The highest profile trade show in the video game industry calendar has been cancelled over the spread of Corvid-19.
The Entertainment Software Association, the US video game industry’s lobby group and organiser of the event, says the decision to close E3 was made in “careful consultation with our member companies”, who include Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, Activision Blizzard and Bandai Namco.
“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,” the ESA says in a statement.
“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.”
The ESA says it will not abandon its traditional June show window entirely, exploring ways for exhibitors to reach consumers through “an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020”.
“We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry,” it adds.
But some analysts and industry insiders believe this could be the death knell for E3, which for more than 20 years has been the most influential showcase for the video game industry.
In recent years, the show has struggled with falling visitor and exhibitor numbers. Some of the ESA's biggest members, including Sony and Nintendo, have skipped years or pulled out from the show entirely, instead choosing to share updates and news through in-house, direct-to-consumer live-streams. Microsoft, which still has a showfloor presence, conducts its big media event from an off-site location.
The show has also been mired in controversy in the past 12 months personal information of hundreds of attendees was left unsecured on its website. The information was subsequently leaked, leading to harassment – and in extreme cases, death threats – of attendees over text message, email and at their homes.