E3 2020 is cancelled

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With COVID-19 spreading, the ESA have decided to cancel E3, which was scheduled for June 9-11.

I am hoping that it’ll return, because I think that what makes E3 so special is the sheer amount of hype that surrounds it. While some continue to disappoint (I am looking at you, Bethesda), some companies (and mostly Nintendo) continue to bring their absolute summit of content to put out. Last year’s Nintendo presentation left us completely gagged. I watched reaction video after reaction video on it, and after a very lukewarm E3 prior to Nintendo, these reactions were absolutely priceless compared to the outright anger at Bethesda and other companies last year.

But last year, we saw Sony completely pull out of E3. What had been a convention staple for many years had been completely broken, but was expected due to Nintendo’s lack of participation as well. Companies are beginning to follow suit, especially with Nintendo’s continued success of being its own thing. It was a rather surprising coincidence that COVID-19 had spread so quickly even if it is now getting closer to being contained, because if Nintendo hadn’t promised it was coming, what would E3 have been good for?

Photo//James Martin/CNET

For years and years E3 had always been guaranteed. You could have a tornado tear through the middle of the convention center and a drought ravage the water supply and there would still be an E3. It has been the same since the first E3 in 1995, and yet, for the first time, they cancelled this seemingly ingrained convention. 

What makes this unsurprising, however, is the previously aforementioned lack of participation by companies recently. EA has their EA Play Convention on the Monday before E3, and Nintendo does a Direct presentation completely divorced from E3 despite being released around the same time. Sony doesn’t do a presentation or show up regardless of having a console to release this year. Ubisoft and Microsoft would have been the biggest companies to debut at the convention this year, and while we both know the motivation of Microsoft here for their Series X machine launching this year, Ubisoft, like many other companies that participate there, don’t have any successful or new IP’s to show off this year, or at least ones that we know of.

I think with E3’s absence this year, I am scared for the smaller developers that used to get a chance to show off as well as the exact dates we can find these presentations, especially since Nintendo, among others, has had the longest time without a Nintendo Direct. With E3’s cancellation, I believe that this is giving Nintendo another ridiculous reason to not release a presentation.

With the rumored release of a ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ sequel this year (which I highly doubt will happen), we aren’t getting the solid six to eight month time frame Nintendo usually gives for their AAA titles and their releases to the public. Everything is skewed, and with the rumors that have been floating around that Nintendo has been purposefully pushing off their Direct presentation and even finished releasable games because of the onset of COVID-19, it is concerning with really the only title we are going to have for an unknown amount of time being ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ which, despite being popular, is still one of Nintendo’s more niche IP’s. 

This calls into question the relevancy of E3. Is E3 going to be able to rise up again after cancelling this year? It’s a guessing game now, as companies are making their presentations online this year. With our current technology of livestreams, we don’t actually need to have an E3, but it’s a chance for developers (and most ideally, indie developers) to show their A game. With no E3 and especially with the controversy with their advertising of games as well as the ESRB controversies, E3 might become ejected from our train of hype.