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E3 2020: the year’s biggest gaming expo is cancelled – here’s what you need to know

UPDATE: E3 2020 has been cancelled. After plenty of speculation and rumors, the show's organizer – the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) – officially pulled the plug on March 11, 2020, three months ahead of the scheduled event.

E3 2020 is not happening, as the gaming expo has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears. 

In a statement the show's organizer, the ESA said "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."

"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."

The chatter around the year's biggest gaming show was already in full swing when the cancellation notice came through, even though Sony had already ducked out for the second year running (unrelated to coronavirus).

With two next-gen consoles in the form of the PS5 and Xbox Series X set to launch not long after, there’s plenty of change afoot in the gaming world – and E3 2020 was set to be at the heart of it.

Why is E3 so important? As a place where the likes of Microsoft and Nintendo – both of whom were set to attend this year – tend to announce new hardware and titles, alongside countless third-party publishers showing off their wares to fans, players, and media, E3 tends to hold some massive announcements that shape the conversation around the year’s games for many months after.

However, with E3 2020 now cancelled, it throws up questions marks for the rest of the year regarding console and game launches.

As we investigate the knock-on effect of the E3 2020 cancellation, here's everything we had confirmed, rumored, and likely to be shown off at E3 2020 before it was shut down. 

What exactly is E3, anyway?

The E3 name stands for ‘Electronic Entertainment Expo’, and it’s been running in some form since 1995. Hosted by the Entertainment Software Association, E3 is a three-day convention to celebrate and showcase all things gaming, usually to publicize upcoming games and consoles – with a smattering of panel discussions and keynotes alongside the excitement of the show floor. E3 2020 will be the 26th time the event has happened.

While traditionally only an industry-only event, the ESA has been more willing to allow members of the public into the event, and is increasing the number of available of public tickets from 15,000 (in 2019) to 25,000. There’s also been chatter about an extra day exclusive to industry members, to minimise disruption and queuing times, but unfortunately that won't happen this year.

In short, E3 is crucially important to the video game industry and without it, we're all worse off.

e3 2019

What's the problem with E3 2020?

That said, even before its cancellation, E3 2020 was set to be the most controversial convention yet – with a number of big-name developers, publishers and personalities deciding not to attend this year's event. Sony was the first to say it wouldn't attend back in February, and around the same time big industry names like Geoff Keighley – who hosted the E3 Coliseum showcase for the previous few years – said he too would step away from the event.

That's not to mention the dropout of iam8bit, a creative merchandising company that had apparently been acting as a creative director for this year's show – though the ESA confirmed that "Endeavor’s creative agency 160over90, event innovators Mat+Lo and longtime E3 partners, GES, Dolaher Events and Double Forte" were all still involved in the direction and creation of the show (via GameSpot).

The argument the show's critics made is that, in the age of streaming, these types of opulent showings weren't really necessary – they don't reach as big of an audience as, say, a direct-to-consumer video, and are much more expensive to put on.

That said, having a single week that was agreed upon by the entire industry to show new games made it a showcase event, one that was covered around the world by both industry publications and international mainstream media. It's pros and cons will be debated long after the news of its cancellation has faded, but now at least you have some context for both sides of the argument. 

E3 2020 dates: when is the expo?

The E3 expo lands every year in June, and was supposed to take place from June 9 (Tuesday) to June 11 (Thursday) at the Los Angeles Convention Center (E3’s home since 2009). 

The expo hall was set to open on a Tuesday, but the weekend beforehand would've see the major console-makers and publishers hosting their own press conferences where the majority of announcements will take place – including a rare Warner Bros. keynote that would've updated us on the next game from Rocksteady. 

Some publishers have said they will instead host streaming video events in lieu of a big keynote at E3, but many of those details have yet to be finalized.

PS5 logo

E3 2020 exhibitors: who's going?

At this point, no one. Well, maybe Devolver Digital. Who knows what they'll do. But from the sounds of it, most of the big publishers won't be in LA that week. That's a shame because the E3 website had a confirmed list of exhibitors, which we've listed below, and a few other names had been floating around after the ESA apparently leaked a wider exhibitor list early, including Activision, Amazon Game Studios, Epic Games, THQ Nordic, and Tencent, none of which will likely be there without an event center to hold them.

Sony at E3 2020 – or not?

Sony didn’t make it to E3 2019, and it won’t be doing so in 2020 either. The makers of the PS5 seem content to showcase their wares at other events throughout the year – like the limp logo reveal at CES 2020 – rather than compete for attention at an event also hosting Xbox and Nintendo.

It’s clearly a different strategy to the PS4 console, which had its design formally unveiled at E3 back in 2013. Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier has suggested Sony’s doing this due to disagreements with the ESA, but for whatever reason, PlayStation won’t have a presence – beyond third-party devs and publishers working on PS4 and PS5 games.

Xbox at E3 2020

While we're still awaiting the details from Microsoft, Xbox Chief Phil Spencer tweeted that the show means a lot to the company and pledged that his team will find a way to get information about the next generation of gaming out there.

We expect to hear some new game announcements – particularly exclusives, which are being aggressively courted for the Xbox brand – and possibly more third-party studios brought under the Xbox umbrella wholesale. It’s likely we’ll get more gameplay footage of the upcoming Halo Infinite, and more information on its multiplayer and story, though a playable demo (sadly) may be a bit further off.

E3 2020 nintendo switch

Nintendo at E3 2020

What of Nintendo? The House of Mario could still offer us something around E3, though hopes for a new Switch Pro model have sadly been dashed, meaning we'll have to content ourselves solely with game announcements.

We also got the first trailer for the Zelda BOTW sequel at E3 last year, so we’re hoping to get more of a formal unveiling, perhaps with a title and an idea of when the game is scheduled to release. Metroid Prime 4, too, only got the briefest of teasers last year, so a better understanding of what the game will actually look like, and when we’ll get to wear Samus’ suit again, would be much appreciated.

We fully expect Super Smash Bros Ultimate to continue dominating Nintendo's press channels, possibly with information on new DLC fighters to come down the line.

Nintendo doesn't host a press conference any more, but it could easily release a Nintendo Direct on Tuesday, June 9.

E3 2020 gods and monsters

E3 2020 games: what would've been on show?

In terms of upcoming games, there are a lot of titles with vague 2020 release dates, so it’s very possibly we’ll see more footage, trailers, announcements, or release dates for the likes of Ubisoft’s Gods and Monsters, Little Nightmares 2, No More Heroes III, Bayonetta 3, Super Meat Boy Forever, Everwild, and Hollow Knight: Silksong (which releases the day after E3, on June 12). 

Bethesda always had a decent showing, and will likely resume its Sunday (June 7) press conference, though what it will be showing post-Doom Eternal is anyone's guess. The sci-fi RPG Starfield? Elder Scrolls VI? Given neither were shown off last year, either would be great this time around – both, if we're incredibly lucky.

With Google Stadia – announced just before E3 last year – now available to play, too, we may well see a bigger presence from Google this time around. Maybe some more games aside from Destiny 2 to play?

At this point what these companies will show via video streams is anyone's guess, but we'll continue to disseminate the information as it becomes available.

E3 2020 Starfield

Will we see more of Starfield this year?

E3 2019: what went down last year?

Even without Sony on show, there was still plenty to make 2019 a great year for E3. We had that wonderful Keanu Reeves appearance, and the news he was appearing in Cyberpunk 2077 (as seen above), new specs for the Xbox Series X, and that brilliant BOTW 2 teaser. We also got a full unveiling of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and updates on Apex Legends Season 2 from EA, and the announcement that Dark Souls dev From Software and Game of Throne's George R R Martin were collaborating on the upcoming game Elden Ring.

Square Enix had one of the better press events we've yet to see at E3 2019, packing in tons of new information on Marvel's AvengersFinal Fantasy VII Remake and the remastered version of Final Fantasy 8.

it wasn't all good news, though, with Animal Crossing: Horizons getting delayed, and the long-awaited Dragon Age 4 not getting so much as a mention. Ubisoft also didn't show off a new Splinter Cell game (cowards!) or its much-delayed Beyond Good and Evil 2 – though it did find time for Just Dance 2020, and the announcement trailer for Gods and Monsters.

Here's a slideshow of the 15 best E3 2019 games, and the full list of everything that was announced beneath that:

Nintendo

Microsoft

  • Halo Infinite (release window, coming to Xbox Project Scarlett)
  • Gears 5
  • Blair Witch
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Xbox One and PC)
  • Bleeding Edge
  • Battletoads
  • Age of Empire II: Definitive Edition (PC)
  • Wasteland 3
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC first, Xbox One later)
  • Minecraft Dungeons
  • Spiritfarer (coming to Xbox Game Pass)
  • 12 Minutes (Xbox One and PC)
  • Forza Horizon 4: Lego Speed Champions Expansion
  • Crossfire X
  • Gears Pop!

Take-Two Interactive/2K Games

Electronic Arts and EA Sports

CD Projekt Red

Konami

  • Contra Rogue Corps (Xbox One PS4, PC and Switch)
  • Contra Anniversary Collection

Bethesda

  • Deathloop (Platforms unknown) (Trailer)
  • Doom Eternal (Xbox One PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch)
  • The Elder Scrolls: Blades (debuting on Nintendo Switch; iOS, Android updates)
  • Fallout 76: Nuclear Winter (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC sneak peek)
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo (Platforms unknown)
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PS4, Xbox One and PC)
  • Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (VR)
  • Commander Keen (iOS and Android)

Square Enix

  • Final Fantasy 7 Remake (PS4)
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (PS4, Nintendo Switch and mobile)
  • Final Fantasy 8 Remastered
  • Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers (PC)
  • Circuit Superstars (Square Enix Collective, developer Original Fire)
  • War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
  • Romancing Saga 3
  • Scarlett Grace
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • The Last Remnant Remastered (coming to Nintendo Switch)
  • Trials of Mana: Collection of Mana (coming to Switch)

Ubisoft

  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
  • The Division 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
  • For Honor (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
  • Watch Dogs Legion (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Stadia) (game play available)
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (game update)
  • Roller Champions (PC download available now, other platforms unknown)
  • Gods & Monsters (Xbox One,PlayStation 4, PC, Stadia and Switch)

Sega

  • Panzer Dragoon: Remake (Nintendo Switch)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (Xbox One)
  • SEGA Genesis mini console coming September 2019 with mini games like Mega Man:The Wily Wars, Earthworm Jim, Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2, Ecco the Dolphin and 35 more classic games.

Bandai Namco

  • Tales of Arise
  • Dragonball Z: Kakarot
  • Code Vein
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
  • RAD

Various

  • Elden Ring (via FromSoftware)
  • Dying Light 2 (from Techland)
  • Way to the Woods (Team 17)
  • Dauntless (coming to Nintendo Switch via Phoenix Labs)
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics (En Masse Entertainment)
  • Dead by Daylight (coming to Nintendo Switch via Koch Media)
  • New Super Lucky’s Tale (coming to Nintendo Switch via Playful Corp.)
  • Empire of Sin (John Romero multi-console game)
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Playtonic)
  • Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin (via Edelweiss and XSEED Games)

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