It was on the cards for weeks and the state of emergency in Los Angeles made it worse. Now, the inevitable has arrived: due to concerns over the coronavirus, the organisers of E3 2020 are on the verge of officially cancelling the show.
Update 5:40pm: Bloomberg is now corroborating the story as well, adding that partners have been told that the ESA is “exploring options” for an online show instead:
The cancellation is planned to be announced at 9:30 am Los Angeles time on March 11 by the Entertainment Software Association, according to a person familiar with the matter. The ESA, which organizes the show commonly known as E3, wrote in a private memo to partners on Tuesday that it is “exploring options for an online E3 event this summer.”
Sources began reaching out to journalists worldwide about the cancellation, at Kotaku and other outlets, and the stampede was fuelled by a fairly direct tweet from Devolver Digital, which was as blunt as you could be. Devolver Digital declined to comment further when contacted by Kotaku Australia, but it’s not hard to see what was going on.
Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) March 11, 2020
Been hearing secondhand whispers tonight from several devs/pubs that E3 is cancelled, although I've also heard from a couple of people in positions to know that the ESA hasn't officially made a decision yet and is still consulting with pubs. Either way, it's only a matter of time https://t.co/Od0MDj3ZXv
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) March 11, 2020
My day started with investigating some E3 stuff. Ended with multiple (and I mean MULTIPLE) sources coming my way.
E3 cancelation announcement scheduled for tmw AM. I don’t think it will hold the night. Many of us have been engaged by sources this evening.
Cancel your plans.
— Mike Futter (@Futterish) March 11, 2020
The first independent sourcing of the story was published over at Ars Technica, with multiple sources telling the site that an official announcement on the cancellation was due to go out today Australian time, or March 10 internationally. The ESA declined to comment on word of the cancellation, nor did they confirm that the event was still going ahead as planned.
Part of the reason for the delay, according to former Kotaku alumni Patrick Klepek, was that the ESA was vetting their statement with their members (which includes major games publishers like Microsoft).
I’ve heard the ESA have been vetting a statement about E3’s status with various publishers and vendors, following an emergency meeting to discuss the event’s status/future. https://t.co/e0dDleEac2
— Patrick Klepek (@patrickklepek) March 11, 2020
Australian publishers contacted by Kotaku Australia weren’t able to individually confirm whether they’d been told of E3 being cancelled. It’s likely that they wouldn’t be first to know anyway: E3 plans are generally organised by teams based out of the United States, with the involvement for many Australian publishers largely supporting plans of their US headquarters or compatriots.
Until then, we’re left with this update from a website dedicated to tracking all the events affected by the coronavirus.
Question is: if E3 doesn’t run as normal this year, will the ESA try and postpone the event until later in the year – or do they opt for an online-only, livestreamed briefing? And if that’s the route the ESA goes, what does that mean for E3 next year?
We’ll update this post as more news comes to light.