E3 organizer The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is pushing ahead with plans for a digital event this summer, but it still requires support from major gaming companies.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has historically been at the center of the gaming industry’s calendar, with companies often saving their biggest announcements for the annual Los Angeles event.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, plans for a physical E3 in 2020 were canceled. When a proposed virtual show in 2020 failed to materialize, ESA promised that a “reimagined” E3 would take place in June 2021.
In accordance with E3 2021 pitch documents sent to game publishers and seen by VGC, ESA has now outlined its proposals for this year̵
ESA’s intention is to hold several two-hour main sessions from gaming partners, an award exhibition, a preview evening on June 14 and other smaller streams from game publishers, influencers and media partners.
The broadcast event will be supplemented with a preview of the media the week before, as well as demos released on consumer platforms, in accordance with ESA’s proposal.
ESA also says it will allow partner companies to stream playable game demos externally to the media over “thousands” of scheduled meetings, with one-on-one assistance from developers. Many companies have used similar streaming solutions on demand during the pandemic to allow the media to remotely play their games for preview.
However, the E3 2021 plans still require the approval of ESA’s membership, which consists of the industry’s largest gaming companies and which has significant influence over the show’s performance.
ESA was already facing significant pressure to reinvent E3, with several major publishers, including EA, Sony and Activision, leaving the event in recent years – and that was before the cancellation in 2020, after which many companies such as EA and Ubisoft had success with to run their own digital events.
E3’s longtime partner Geoff Keighley, who left the show last year due to disagreement over its direction, also launched the successful Summer Game Fest in 2020. Keighley confirmed to VGC via private message that the event would return this year and said he would not again. be involved in E3.
It is unclear how many publishers have signed up for E3 2021’s digital event, although at least one major gaming company VGC spoke to indicated that it would continue to run its own separate digital showcase, instead of paying the required six figures. to join the E3 2021s. route.
However, ESA – which is funded by and serves the interests of gaming publishers – will argue that a unified digital gaming event will capture the world’s attention more effectively than a series of smaller shows.
In a statement to VGC, ESA said they would soon share exact details about this year’s E3 show, claiming they had “good conversations” with developers and publishers, but would not confirm who had signed up for the event.
“We can confirm that we are transforming the E3 experience for 2021 and will soon share accurate details on how we bring together the global video game community,” said a spokesman for ESA.
“We have good conversations with publishers, developers and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details of their engagement soon.”
While the body has not officially canceled plans for a physical E3 event, it is understood that the digital show is now the focus of E3 2021, due to ongoing restrictions on the coronavirus pandemic.
Several publishing sources for games told VGC that they worked under the assumption that the physical event would not take place this year.
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According to ESA’s E3 2021 proposal, a typical show day will see the live broadcast schedule from 10.00 to 22.00 EST, with regional reruns scheduled around Europe, China and the Middle East.
An example of a schedule sent to publishers is similar to a typical show day for previous E3 events: It starts with a 30-minute pre-show run by a media partner, followed by a 2-hour “exclusive press conference” by a console platform holder , followed by a question and answer and panel response.
The rest of the day will consist of third-party publicist presentations of varying lengths, with the day ending with a summary and teaser for the following. ESA’s notes also mention a “charitable afterparty” stream.
Leaked documents for the E3 2020 event – which was eventually canceled due to the pandemic – showed plans for a “fan, media and influencer festival”, including a redesigned show floor with “experience hubs”, in addition to traditional function rooms.
Right after the last physical E3 event in 2019, ESA upset participants after it leaked a list of personal information belonging to over 2,000 members of the media, including home addresses and phone numbers.
Following the leak, ESA said it was regaining the trust of its media partners as a “top priority”.