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Steam Next Fest wants to compete with E3

Steam's semi-regular Game Festival has been rebranded as Steam Next, with the next showcase of game trailers, developer livestreams and countless free demos set to kick off June 16th through 22nd. These dates happen to coincide with when a year's E3 would usually be expected, and indeed E3 2021 was at one point slated to run from June 15-17 as a digital event (though it appears to have been cancelled).

Valve made the announcement in a new event page for the Steam Next Fest, though has little more to say at this time. Rather, the company pointed to last February's Steam Games Festival as a sign of what to expect from this summer's show.

We already knew that another Steam Festival would be coming this June—and besides the name, this announcement doesn't change our expectations. The format seeming to be working, with the last Steam Game Festival featuring over 500 playable demos, including the likes of Skatebird, Warhammer 40,000: Dakka Squadron and Minute Of Islands. Like Morgan said: game demos are back, baby.

With Covid-19 still looming over us, Steam won't be the only digital show taking place this summer. It's still unclear whether E3 will return as an entirely-online event this Summer, though GDC will be running digital events throughout the year. It seems an obvious move for Valve to use some of that traditional summer spotlight to highlight its own platform and the developers on it: but this sure looks like another serious problem for E3, which has never faced this kind of direct competition for eyeballs before.

Natalie Clayton

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time—and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and having herself developed critically acclaimed small games like Can Androids Pray, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She's also played for a competitive Splatoon team, and unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.