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E3’s 2021 live event has been cancelled, LA city documents claim

VGC previously revealed organiser The ESA has been pushing forward with digital show plans

E3’s physical event for 2021 has been cancelled, according to Los Angeles city documents published this week.

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In a new report published by the Board of Los Angeles Convention and Tourism Development Commission, a sales update lists E3 2021 as a “cancelled live event”.

The document states that the Convention board is working with E3 organiser The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) on broadcast options at the Los Angeles Convention Center and the nearby LA Live complex. The City board also claims it’s “working” on a 2022 and 2023 license for E3.

The cancellation would mark the second year in a row the E3 event has been called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As exclusively revealed by VGC this month, The ESA has been pushing forward with plans for a digital E3 event this summer, but it still requires the backing of major games companies.

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A LA city document lists E3 2021 as cancelled.

According to E3 2021 pitch documents sent to games publishers and seen by VGC, the ESA has outlined its proposals for this year’s event, which would see three days of live-streamed coverage held during the previously announced dates of June 15-17.

The broadcast event would be supplemented by media previews the week before, as well as demos released on consumer platforms, according to the ESA’s proposal.

However, the E3 2021 plans still require the approval of ESA’s membership, which is made up of the industry’s biggest games companies and who have significant influence over the direction of the show.

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The ESA was already facing significant pressure to reinvent E3, with several major publishers including EA, Sony and Activision having abandoned the event in recent years – and that was before 2020’s cancellation, after which many companies such as EA and Ubisoft enjoyed success running their own digital events.

Multiple games publishing sources had told VGC they were working under the assumption that the physical event would not take place this year.

In a statement issued to VGC, the ESA said it would soon share exact details on this year’s E3 show and claimed it was having “great conversations” with developers and publishers, but would not confirm who had signed up for the event.

“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,” an ESA spokesperson said. “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 2021’s live event has been cancelled, LA city documents claim.
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Commenting on VGC’s report, former Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aimé said this month that he believed The ESA needs to act fast if it is to save the historical games event.

Speaking to Gamertag Radio, Fils-Aimé said he saw reports about E3 returning digitally in 2021 and wasn’t enthused. “I have to say that what I read doesn’t sound all that compelling.”

“If I were king for a day, I’ll tell you how I would do it,” he said. “I do think doing this digitally is absolutely right and the reason for that is, there are more than the 60,000 people who would typically attend an E3. There are millions more interested in finding out what’s going on and executing an event digitally is the way to bring that to life, so that’s the right track.

“Having said that, I think that the platform holders need to find a way digitally to enable their fans, their players, to experience the content because that’s the key for E3 right – the ability to be playing The Last of Us Part 3 for the first time, or to play that next Breath of the Wild game for the first time, or to play the next great game coming from the new amalgamation of all the Xbox studios.

“To play for the first time is what’s magical and the platform holders need to figure out how to deliver that experience to their fans during an E3-like digital experience. I think that would be huge.”