Responding to rumors, the ESA announced on Thursday that E3 2021 will go ahead as a digital show, at least in part. It will be free for all attendees, the group added, clarifying rumors that it might charge for attendance.
The wording of the ESA’s tweet doesn’t make it clear if E3 2021 will be an all-digital show or if it will have some physical presence as well. We won’t have to wait very long to learn more about what’s in store. The ESA said the first details will be announced “very soon.”
A spokesperson for the ESA told GameSpot, “We’ve been hard at work to deliver a free experience for everyone interested in E3 2021, and we’re excited to share further details soon.”
E3’s 2021 digital show is a free event for all attendees. We’re excited to fill you in on all the real news for the event very soon. https://t.co/HzTzaQEosx
— E3 (@E3) April 1, 2021
This information comes after pitch documents for a new, all-digital E3 showcase leaked earlier this year and pointed to significant changes for the event as it shifted away from a physical show to a digital one in the wake of the pandemic. We still don’t know more about the nature and structure of E3 2021 as it relates to an online vs. physical setup.
There is also no official word yet on when E3 2021 could take place, or what fans can expect in terms of programming and content.
Although E3 2021 will go ahead, it won’t be the only show in town this summer. Microsoft, and its new subsidiary Bethesda, are planning their own showcases outside of E3. It’s also expected that other publishers will do the same with their own standalone events at different points throughout the year.
E3 was once the biggest show in video games in terms of profile and prominence, though Gamescom is much larger when it comes to total attendance in pre-pandemic years. E3 has been on the outs for years now, as major publishers like PlayStation, EA, and others jumped ship to host their own events outside of E3 and away from the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The ESA itself, which organizes E3 every year, has faced increased scrutiny and criticism of late as well. Its former CEO, Michael Gallagher, was criticized for his ties to President Trump, while that half of the group’s leadership either quit or were fired in 2019.