E3 2020 will still go ahead despite increased fears over the spread of the novel coronavirus, the organisers have announced.
Fears over the outbreak’s continued spread has resulted in the cancellation, postponement or closure of conventions worldwide. The Game Developers Conference postponed their annual industry event later this month after a string of high-profile platform holders and brands, including Sony, EA, Google and Facebook, announced they would no longer attend or imposed travel bans on their staff. Mobile World Congress, the biggest trade show for consumer mobile in the world, was cancelled, and while the consumer-facing PAX East in Boston went ahead, several developers and studios, including those from Capcom and CD Projekt Red, cancelled their appearances.
Major shows in the second half of the year are still weighing up their options. Nvidia today recently announced that the five-day long GPU Technology Conference, which is held in San Jose every year, would be an online-only event instead. “We will still share our announcements,” Nvidia said in a blog post. “This decision to move the event online instead of at the San Jose Convention Center reflects our top priority: the health and safety of our employees, our partners and our customers.”
E3 2020, however, is still going ahead. Organisers ESA said they were monitoring the “situation very closely” in a statement to Vice.
“We will continue to be vigilant, as our first priority is the health, wellness and safety of all of our exhibitors and attendees,” the association said. “Given what we know at this time, we are moving ahead full speed with E3 2020 planning. Exhibit and registration sales are on track for an exciting show in June.”
E3 was already set to be a massively important show in 2020 because it’s a transitional year. But it’ll also be the first year with the show’s reorganised format and focus on “exclusive/appointment only activations for select attendees”. The direction resulted in host and The Game Awards organiser Geoff Keighley to pull out of the show, although Keighley confirmed on Twitter that he would continue to host a Game Critics Week separate to E3.
Someone like Geoff Keighley won't have the same financial impact for E3 as, say, Sony refusing to buy booth space. But when it comes to the broader narrative about where E3 is headed, it's not a good look.Read more
But even the ESA’s confidence might not be enough if fans, who pay $245 to over $1400 for tickets, don’t show. Major publishers have already started adjusting to events of their own, accruing the revenue and attention of fans all for themselves. That problem for the ESA will only get worse if many major companies don’t lift their bans on work travel in time for E3, especially with the virus’s worldwide spread increasing and the prospect of a reliable vaccine at least a year away.