Let's be honest, E3 has been slowly declining with each passing year. Major developers dropping out, just running pre-produced videos and even a data breach recently that struck the attendees directly. What E3 needed was some good press and good faith. It appears that it will be getting neither.
Rumors began swirling last night that E3 2020, scheduled for this June in Los Angeles, would be cancelled/postponed due to concerns over the growing threat of the coronavirus. While nothing has been made official, an announcement appears to be coming this morning (Wednesday, March 11th). That didn't stop Devolver Digital from getting ahead of the news.
As hands on as E3 is, this is one of those cancellations that really does make sense. thousands of gamers, all with their hands on the same controllers, it seems like it would be hard to control spread in an environment like that. If/when the announcement is made, one question remains for me: will this be it?
While it could be considered noble to cancel this early, giving everyone plenty of time to get refunds and modify their plans, we are still three months away from the event. A lot can happen in three months. Sure it could get worse, but it could also get better. To me, cancelling three months ahead of time is more like a white flag.
Think about it, Sony is about to make their biggest console announcement in years, and it would not be at E3. Nintendo Direct can be done from anywhere, at any time, and so can the subsequent Treehouse that usually follows. EA just lost their NFL license to 2K, and it doesn't seem like they have much for fans to get excited about that they don't bring out every single year. Microsoft also has some console news, but it also feels like they could easily host their own event like everyone else when things are more safe. So, give me one reason that E3 should continue.
If you're argument is that you could say the same for PAX, Gamescom, etc. to me that doesn't really compare. E3 has always been THE big ticket in the video game industry. Sure, news would drop at other conventions, but E3 was where everyone brought their best effort and made the most noise. In this age of social media, live streaming technology and other platforms, the appeal of E3 seems to be diminishing. If college campuses can close and give their students a virtual learning environment, developers can do the same.
It's not just about the lack of trust, or the lack of a big splash, it's the size and scope of the event. Less developers means less content overall. Imagine if Microsoft holds their own event this year, online or otherwise, only to realize that they don't need E3 anymore. If E3 were to lose one more major content provider, that would be it. You either accept that you're back to being a smaller, grassroots operation or you fold.
I never would have expected something like the coronavirus to be the thing that would be the beginning of the end for E3, yet here we are. The damage has slowly been done over the last few years, but this particular event could be the thing that fans and content providers are already starting to realize. Goodbye E3, you had a good run.
Photo Credit: EAS/E3 Expo