The rumor that E3 2020 was going to be cancelled have been flying around the web for two days. The conference was to have taken place June 9-11, 2020 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. All the articles published (even one by Forbes, of all people) refered back to a piece on Ars Technica, which in turn cited as its source for the news a single tweet from ESA member Devolver Digital, which read, “Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all.”
The other shoe has finally dropped, and now we can report that the cancellation of E3 for 2020 is not rumor, but fact. The official statement from the E3 Expo web site reads:
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 ESA statement reads. “Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today. Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds.
Shortly after the ESA’s statement, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer offered an assurance on Twitter that fans should expect an “Xbox digital event” in the wake of E3’s cancellation, with “details on timing and more in the coming weeks.” We expect other major studios that had planned to attend E3 2020 to follow with announcements of their own.
E3 is a massive event, drawing between 60 and 70 thousand attendees in the game industry from all over the world, including some of the biggest publishers in the world. Its influence has been sputtering over the past few years, with Activision-Blizzard becoming an unreliable attendee starting in 2016. Electronic Arts stopped going in 2016 as well, opting for its own standalone event EA Play that has run alongside E3 every year since. Nintendo hasn’t hosted an E3 keynote for a while now either – and last year Sony decided to sit out E3, and had no plans to attend this year either, particularly noteworthy since they have a big launch planned for its new Playstation 5 console later this year.
The COVID-19 cancellation is just another body blow to the already faltering event. Other events already cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic include the popular music festivals Coachella in California, and SXSW in Texas.
No major comics or sci-fi conventions have announced cancellations or postponements yet, including Wondercon in Anaheim, California on April 10-12, or San Diego Comic-Con July 23-26 (though Emerald City Comic Con saw DC Comics, Dark Horse Entertainment and Penguin Random House pull out at the last minute over coronavirus concerns). We have a sinking feeling that both of these large conventions will be cancelled, and the ramifications to geek culture are enormous.
If you hear of an upcoming convention cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, let us know, and we’ll amend this article to list them.
The following additional conventions and conferences have been cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak:
- Nanocon, Washington State, March 28, rescheduled to May 1
- Swancon 45, Australia’s longest running SF&F convention, cancelled for 2020
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