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E3 2021: gaming’s biggest expo goes digital

All signs point to a 2021 return for E3, only in a digital, COVID-safe format. Expect more PogChamp emotes and less awkward Q&As.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a spanner in the works for a lot of large events. Festivals, live music, and even Bunnings’ sausage sizzle were prohibited from going ahead. Another casualty from this worldwide disaster was E3, a gaming expo where the industry’s top professionals showcase what they’ve been working on. It was unfortunately canned last year over its potential for being a super spreader event.

This year it looks like E3 is back, but on a smaller, digital scale. A pitch obtained and reported on by VGC shows that publishers outlined a three-day live-streamed event spanning June 15-17th. So, what should you expect?

Birds Eye view E3.
Image: Wired

E3 pitch documents suggest that there would be an award show, publisher keynotes, smaller developer streams featuring influencers, and most importantly, playable demos available across multiple platforms.

Nothing, however, is set in stone. For E3 to go ahead they must secure funding from partnered companies such as Electronic Arts, Sony, and Microsoft. The bill isn’t cheap either. Sources are reporting that it could cost partners upwards of six figures to join the program.

Last year many companies saw wild results from their independent E3 alternative streams, which may dissuade them against cashing out on a digital-only E3. Microsoft, for example, opted to do a month-long drip-feed of their news as opposed to their usual E3 blowout.

I personally preferred this method as it rationed out that precious content. It also didn’t force companies to hand over a mammoth sign up fee.

If all goes to plan, E3 2021 will take place from June 15th through to June 17th.