The coronavirus has been spreading around the world and inciting fear and anxiety in everyone who keeps up with the news of the pandemic, so while it's understandable that many video game players were looking forward to some escapism with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, this year's E3 has been called on account of COVID-19. Yes, the latest major gathering of people to be cancelled because of the coronavirus is E3. Jason Schreier at Kotaku has the story.
“After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry—our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners—we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles,” the Entertainment Software Association, the video game lobbyist group that runs the trade show, said in a statement to press this morning.
The ESA added that it will be looking “to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020.” Traditionally, E3 has two parts. During the first few days of the show, from Saturday through Monday, major video game publishers like Microsoft and Ubisoft hold press conferences to showcase trailers announce their latest games, while from Tuesday through Thursday, the show floor opens for business deals and video game demos. The first part will be far easier to replicate than the second. Microsoft has already announced an Xbox digital event for this year, as has Ubisoft.
While E3 will be missed, there is honestly just too much money tied up in the business around video games to expect that everyone will just quietly go home and sit in the dark (although, seriously, during this pandemic you really should just go home! Avoid large gatherings! Wash your hands!). Most of the action will shift into the online space where a number of game publishers have been thriving for years. Nintendo hasn't done a traditional live press conference in a while, for instance; expect the other big industry names to follow that example now. As for the show floor and the meeting opportunities that come with it, some of that can be replicated with telecommuting, but so much of the action at E3 happens through serendipity and random chance. How many stories have we heard over the years about a game that comes about because Famous Developer A bumps into Major Talent B on the show floor, get to talking, and decide to work on a project together? That won't be happening this year. So while I mourn the lost opportunities for creative people to mix and mingle, I'd rather that they all stay healthy so they can come up with the next great idea next time around.