Thanks to an extremely short tweet from publisher Devolver Digital, it appears that this year’s E3 will be canceled soon. If canceled it would be the first time in the expo’s 24-year history. While a cancellation would not be completely unexpected, March has already seen several other events, conventions, and tournaments being canceled over concerns for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak.
Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) March 11, 2020
The tweet recommended that attendees to E3 should cancel their flights and hotels now. This heads-up could also mean that Devolver Digital is pulling from the show and is waiting to make an official announcement.
Multiple sources have seemed to confirm the cancellation of E3 though. Jason Schreier, news editor at Kotaku, backed up the statement saying that he had “heard from two people that E3 cancellation will be announced tomorrow AM (both secondhand), and one person w/ ESA ties who insists that it won’t be.”
Been hearing secondhand whispers tonight from several devs/pubs that E3 is cancelled, although I've also heard from a couple of people in positions to know that the ESA hasn't officially made a decision yet and is still consulting with pubs. Either way, it's only a matter of time https://t.co/Od0MDj3ZXv
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) March 11, 2020
The cancellation if true would be the latest in a long list of events canceled over concerns of the coronavirus. California has already declared a state of emergency as more residents are testing positive for the coronavirus. 2019’s show saw more than 66,000 attendees, and while that’s down slightly from the year before, it is still a huge gathering in the gaming community. With outside pressures from having so many prominent industry professionals in one place and the need to protect all attendees, rumors were already circulating that this year’s E3 might be rescheduled, if not outright canceled.
E3 is aware of the risk that the coronavirus presents and has been monitoring the situation as it develops. From E3, “The health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, partners, and staff is our top priority. While the ESA continues to plan for a safe and successful E3 show June 9-11, 2020 — we are monitoring and evaluating the situation daily. ”
The future of E3
With more and more of the gaming industry turning to digital distribution methods, this could convince more publishers to move to prerecorded or live-streamed events. Sony and Nintendo have both pulled out of the official E3 schedule. Nintendo has instead chosen to do more regular Nintendo Direct events. Sony did not attend 2019’s E3 either; instead, they focused on doing smaller, consumer-focused events worldwide.
As of this writing, E3 has not yet made any official comment on whether or not the expo will be continuing. We will provide updates as more information becomes available.