Update: The ESA has now made it official. We’ve included the press release at the end of this article.
If you thought it was strange that the ESA kept digging in its heels over keeping E3 up, when far smaller and less important events were closing down left and right to avoid exacerbating or exposing attendees to the novel coronavirus that’s terrorizing the globe, then today’s revelation that it’s finally been called off will mollify you. GIbiz and Ars Technica point to a cryptic tweet from Devolver Digital as well as unnamed sources who’ve confirmed that the massive games industry lobby is preparing to make the announcement. Here’s Ars:
“One source who spoke to Ars on background said they’d heard the news of E3 2020’s cancellation ‘directly from ESA members’ and that an official, public statement on the matter ‘was supposed to be today [Tuesday, March 10] and slipped.’ Representatives for the ESA did not immediately respond to Ars Technica’s questions about the state of E3 going forward or whether the event’s seismic shift may instead mean a delay, a move to a completely different venue, or a wholly virtualized, live-streamed event.”
Last week, the company in charge of the convention’s creative direction resigned, which seemed to herald the move whether ESA felt it could afford to make it or not. Thus far, however, neither the organization nor the official E3 accounts have made the formal statement; the last update was from March 4th when the ESA said it was still monitoring the situation in LA. (We’ll update when they do.)
Meanwhile, we’ve seen closures of several other gaming events just in the last few days, adding to all the others in previous weeks: The SMITE Pro League Season Kickoff has been delayed at least three weeks, while Niantic has postponed Pokemon Go’s Safari Zone St. Louis, granting players refunds, and suggesting the event will be back in the next year.
News reports as of this morning suggest the virus has infected over 115,000 people, 1000 out those in the US, with 4200 deaths globally and little respite in sight.
More on the impact of the virus on gaming:
“WASHINGTON – MARCH 11, 2020 – After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles. Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today. Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds. We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020. Updates will be shared on E3expo.com. We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining E3 this year. We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry.”
E3 has always been an important moment for Team Xbox. Given this decision, this year we'll celebrate the next generation of gaming with the @Xbox community and all who love to play via an Xbox digital event. Details on timing and more in the coming weeks https://t.co/xckMKBPf9h
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) March 11, 2020
The World Health Organization has officially declared this a pandemic as of today.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 11, 2020