E3 2021 officially unveiled as a digital event


Last year, along with many other fun things, E3 was cancelled. This year's E3 will be a free online event, and it's facing more competition than ever before. Initially scheduled to run over June 15 to 17, certain competitors took aim at those dates: Valve rebranded the semi-regular Steam games festival to Steam Next, and it's running from June 16 to 22.

The Entertainment Software Association has now announced its final plans for this year's event, and a change in date. E3 2021 will run from June 12 to June 15, and has "early commitments from Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games and Koch Media." That is a fairly decent lineup of big-hitters, though whether anyone brings their AAA game remains to be seen. 

Notable by their absence are Activision-Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Sony, though bigger publishers skipping out was an E3 trend well before the pandemic. Xbox head Phil Spencer, at least, was happy about the news.

This press release emphasises that all of E3 will be free (this follows reports that the ESA had been considering charging for access). Stanley Pierre-Louis, president & CEO of the ESA, adds "We are evolving this year’s E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games."

The press release ends on an optimistic note: "The ESA looks forward to coming back together to celebrate E3 2022 in person." I never thought I'd miss those sweaty halls and terrifically over-priced hot dogs but, y'know, I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder of anything.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."