The world’s biggest gaming showcase, E3, is going all-virtual for the first time in its history, with organizers revealing today how they plan to keep enthusiasts interested without the sights and sounds of the show floor. The virtual E3 will run from June 12th to June 15th. The showcase will include an online portal with access to virtual exhibitor booths with video content and articles, live streams, and social elements like forums, customizable user profiles, leaderboards, and “lounges.” Registration is free and opens later this month.
This will be the second year in a row that E3 has not taken place in person in Los Angeles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the show’s cancellation was announced in March, and the show’s organizers, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), did not present an official online version of the event. In its place, a collection of digital events emerged, collectively called the Summer Game Fest. This year, however, the ESA is coordinating a centralized virtual E3 event, while the Summer Game Fest is also returning.
Along with its virtual show floor, the E3 app and portal will host video streams with interactive elements like viewer polls and featured tweets. Broadcasts will include press conferences, industry panels, and game showcases. In addition to the official app and portal, streams will also be available via the official E3 Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook pages.
As well as the public show, there’ll also be a “media access week” running from June 7th in which the ESA says media will be able to use the online portal and app to connect directly with E3 exhibitors. Today’s press release doesn’t detail exactly who these exhibitors are, but last month the ESA announced that E3’s lineup would include Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, and Warner Bros. Games. Sony and EA were absent from the list. The PlayStation manufacturer skipped E3 2019 and announced it would not be attending E3 2020 prior to its cancellation. Meanwhile, EA will host its own EA Play Live event the following month in July. Despite being on the ESA’s original list, Konami later announced in a tweet that it would not be participating at this year’s E3.
E3 has evolved a lot over its history. Although certain aspects like the big publisher press conferences have been publicly viewable for years, until recently, the in-person show itself was an industry and media-only affair. It was only in 2017 that the ESA officially opened its doors to the public with tickets priced at $250. This year’s format is dropping the high price of attending in person, though it’s unclear how much of the magic of the show floor can be recreated in virtual booths.