ESA Announces the Dates for a “Reimagined” E3 2021, But There’s No Reimagining Its Troubled History

There's no excitement, and it isn't because of the Coronavirus.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has announced the dates for E3 2021, which will take place on June 15-17, 2021. The announcement was made earlier this week to the company’s partners, reports.

The ESA canceled E3 2020 in early March after it became clear COVID-19 would pose a serious threat to public safety and health. The event would’ve taken place earlier in June, scheduled for June 9-11.

“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,” said the ESA in its 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.”

They added exhibitors and attendees would be receiving information about receiving full refunds. Before the standard corporate sign-off, the ESA mentioned that it was, “exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020.” No word has been said on this yet. While there is still time, many are wondering if that idea has been scrapped and E3 is skipping out on 2020 entirely. If so, honestly? Big mood.

The ESA went as far as calling E3 2021 a “reimagined event.” One has to wonder what it means by that, since E3 has been in the spotlight for negative press for quite some time now, and there’s no reimagining or erasing its recent troubled history.

The biggest scandal E3 has had was undoubtedly in August 2019, when E3 leaked a spreadsheet containing the contact information of over 2,000 journalists and content creators. The spreadsheet was published and publicly accessible on the E3 website. Naturally, while the ESA eventually removed the link to the file, the information — which made the harassment of many journalists easier than ever before — still circulated online. The list included publications, names, email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses.

E3 2020

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The ESA provided an update on their cybersecurity in January 2020, stating that they had, “upgraded our media registration process, which received a lot of attention this past summer.” (It was the enormous leak of personal information. It was not just any sort of vague attention. It was specifically the leak.) The ESA went on to tell the industry that, “earning back your trust and support is our top priority,” but that has still not come to fruition. It’s questionable at best as to whether it will ever accomplish this after recklessly endangering the safety of thousands of workers in this industry.

There’s also the fact that it’s hard to feel like we’ll be missing much from losing out on E3 2020. There would have likely been some reveals on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, but these reveals can still happen with ease. Sony had even confirmed that it would skip out on the convention despite gearing up for the PlayStation 5’s marketing cycle; it was the second time it had skipped the event, too.

With Twitter and Twitch, as well as companies creating their own media events like Nintendo’s widely-anticipated Directs and PlayStation’s various presentations, E3’s relevancy has been dwindling in the last few years. Additionally, IGN recently announced it would host its new “Summer of Gaming” event, a digital event beginning in June to bring in the latest news. “IGN will be collaborating with a number of partners for the Summer of Gaming, including 2K, Square Enix, SEGA, Bandai Namco, Amazon, Google Stadia, Twitter, Devolver Digital, THQ Nordic, and more,” read a statement posted earlier this week. Expect more details in the coming weeks. The event will include live broadcasts and on-demand programming featuring IGN’s editorial coverage of the work of game developers from around the world.”

More than ever, it’s easier for companies to reach their consumers and readers and spread information in a controlled manner — without needing to organize the physical attendance of a large event to boot.

It’s not just (more than rightly) distrusting journalists and relatively faceless companies, either. Geoff Keighley, showrunner of The Game Awards and a major contributor to E3, went as far as to say he would not be participating in what would have been this year’s E3 for the first time in 25 years. “Based on what’s been communicated to me about the show, I just don’t feel comfortable participating,” Keighley told The Washington Post. “It’s no secret that E3 needs to evolve and I have lots of ideas around that, but have decided to take a wait-and-see approach. I’m looking forward to learning more about the ESA’s vision for the show beyond what was in the blog post last week.”

It would have been lovely to see the ESA provide significantly more information into the steps it has taken to protect journalists and content creators by now. With the unfortunate timing of COVID-19, it’s hard to see the show coming back from all of this. But we’ll just have to see in the “reimagined” event coming in 2021.