Leaked E3 2021 Plans Propose Digital-Focused Show; “Publishing Sources” Assume No Physical Event


Documents from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have reportedly leaked, with plans for a digital-focused or purely digital E3 2021.

VGC reports that according to E3 2021 pitch documents sent to games publishers (that VGC had seen) proposed the event would be live-streamed from June 15th to 17th. The event will also include multiple two-hour keynote sessions, award shows; and smaller streams from publishers, influences, and media partners.

In the lead up to the event, there would be media previews up to a week before, a preview night on June 14th, and demos released on various platforms.  Broadcasts would occur 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST, with re-broadcasts for Europe, China and the Middle East.

An example show would include a 30-minute pre-show by a media partner, then a two hour “exclusive press conference” by a console company, concluded by a Q&A and panel. The remaining broadcast of the day would include third-party publisher presentations, a teaser for the next day, and a “charitable after-party” stream.

Partner companies would also be allowed to remotely stream demos in “thousands” of meetings, with one-to-one assistance from developers. All of these proposals will need to be approved by the ESA’s members; made of the largest developers and publishers.

Several of the above ideas bare comparisons to the events that took place in E3 2020’s stead. The game reveals, trailers, and interviews could be compared to Geoff Keighley’s Summer of Gaming, while the limited time demos may remind some of Steam’s Games Festivals.

One “major games company” spoke anonymously to VGC, and “indicated” they would continue to run their own digital showcase; as oppose to paying the six-figure fee to join E3 2021. “Multiple games publishing sources” also told VGC they were under the assumption that the physical event would not take place at all in 2021.

The ESA issued a statement to VGC, only confirming they would share the details on the show soon and was talking with publishers and developers.

“We can confirm that we are transforming the E3 experience for 2021 and will soon share exact details on how we’re bringing the global video game community together.

We are having great conversations with publishers, developers and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details about their involvement soon.”


E3 2020 was officially cancelled in March 2020, numerous publishers and developers subsequently announcing they would be hosting their own digital events around the time E3 2020 would have happened.

At the time, the ESA also stated they would be “exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020.” This was later scrapped in April 2020 due to “the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” meaning E3 2020 was effectively cancelled twice.

Earlier in March 2020, creative production company iam8bit have announced they would not be involved with E3 2020. Earlier reports also announced that E3 2020 would be a “new and revitalized experience.” 

Sony announced they would be skipping E3 for the second time, along with Geoff Keighley confirming he would be skipping E3 2020 for the first time in 25 years. When asked on Twitter what fueled his decision not to participate, Keighley replied, “A ton of factors, I just don’t really feel comfortable participating given what I know about the show as of today.”

What E3 2020 could have been was shown in September 2019, when details of an alleged planning document for E3 2020 had leaked. Several elements from the leak seemed to be true, based on the details of the “revitalized experience.”

One proposal had eight “experience hubs,” along with traditional booths. This would match up with “large, super fun floor experience” mentioned. The document also proposed celebrity and influencer deals (matching the “surprise guests” statement).

The leaked document also proposed entertainment for those in queues, a digital app operating akin to Disney theme park’s FastPass system, and utilizing major social issues that can generate positive press and also encourage celebrities to join the event. Whether any of this will come to pass in E3 2021 will only be known closer to the event.

Image: ESA

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Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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