While we have for several months heard rumors that Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) will return in one form or another after melting and cancellation in 2020, a leak has clarified what the only online 2021
“E3’s digital show in 2021 is a free event for all attendees,” the expo’s official Twitter account posted Thursday (and apparently not as an April Fool’s joke). “We are excited to fill out all the real news for the event very soon.”
Details of the leaked pitch document, obtained by the Video Games Chronicle, were actually posted by E3’s Twitter account, suggesting that they may very well be accurate. VGC reports that this pitch has been handed over to game publishers by E3 organizer Electronic Software Association to excite potential partners about biz-dev details such as “B2B, B2M and B2C goals” – but also to insist that “E3 2021 is not a personal event that became virtual. “
Although the event, from the sound of it, is just that. According to the leak, the renamed Electronic Entertainment Experience (still “E3”) could include a main session, an award show, a “preview night” and appointments for the regular participants (business representatives, journalists) to meet game producers – only this time all those things would route an official video-based app instead of a crowded conference hall in Los Angeles.
VGC claims that ESA is interested in partnering with Nvidia to leverage the GeForce Now cloud game service to stream exclusive, playable demos to E3’s virtual participants. VGC’s language suggests that no such agreements have been concluded, and that this plan is not part of the leaked pitch document.
However, there is some potential difficulty with this plan, especially given that publishers released their software from GeForce Now shortly after the start of 2020. What makes them believe that the same publishers would be okay with Nvidia getting exclusive streaming hosting rights to their E3 revelations? And how will ESA handle such political negotiations with so many game publishers, including those like Microsoft that already run their own streaming services? VGC does not suggest that ESA has an answer there.
ESA’s tweet seems to reflect at least one proposal from the leaked document: a possible payment wall to access the virtual exhibition.
VGC cites “sources” in claiming that ESA has considered packaging parts of E3 2021 together into a “paid access card”, which may include access to cloud-streamed demos or “extra access” of some kind. However, publishers have apparently pushed back on this part of the plan, and ESA had already expressed a willingness to withdraw from such a proposal in the planning phase.
ESA’s public statement may still offer some room for both extremes: “a free event” with certain aspects held behind paid virtual velvet ropes. (You know, like many of the free games released by ESA members.)
Thanks to the dissolution of E3 in 2020, which was already facing internal unrest before bowing to the reality of a pandemic, exactly how ESA will spin the E3 wheels and get all this organized – especially the track for physical, filmed content in Los Angeles – is still unclear.