Update 5/10: E3 organizers announced on Wednesday that the gaming event is officially canceled. “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,” the organizers wrote in a statement.
The original post is below:
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2020 in Los Angeles is canceled, Ars Technica reported on Tuesday evening, citing multiple sources who said that the organizers at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) will soon make a public announcement.
E3 2020, the massive video game trade and announcement event, was slated to take place from June 9 to June 11 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. But those plans had become increasingly uncertain as numerous tech and consumer electronics conferences like Facebook’s F8 developers’ conference, Google’s I/O conference, the Game Developers Conference, the Mobile World Conference, and South by Southwest announced shutdowns for 2020 due to concerns about the novel coronavirus outbreak rapidly spreading across the country. Ars Technica didn’t cite any specific reason in the report, but the outbreak is the likeliest reason.
According to Ars Technica, one of the sources said that they had heard “directly from ESA members” that the association planned to make an announcement on March 10, but that the matter had “slipped.” Even if an official decision hasn’t been made yet, it’s very hard to see how E3 2020 could move forward.
The ESA had continued to say as late as March 4 that it was continuing to “plan for a safe and successful E3 show” in spite of the outbreak, which a World Health Organization report on Tuesday said has resulted in nearly 114,000 confirmed cases globally and over 4,000 deaths. Some 973 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have been reported in the U.S. as well as at least 30 deaths. That number is certain to grow. (Highlighting the risks, a single Biogen conference in Boston on Feb. 26 that later had three attendees test positive for COVID-19 has been tied to at least 70 infections.) In a sign that Americans should brace for widespread disruption, tech giant Google officially asked over 100,000 employees and a similarly-sized army of contractors to work from home for the next month on Tuesday.
Other factors that Ars Technica noted could have contributed to the reported cancellation include the decision of iam8bit, a gaming and merch company contracted as E3 2020's creative director, to pull out last week, which followed prominent participant Geoff Keighley’s own decision to not attend in January 2020. There have also been poor showings from industry giants in recent years, Ars Technica wrote: Activision-Blizzard and Nintendo have scaled back their involvement, while EA and Sony have become no-shows (EA since 2016, and Sony since last year).
It’s not clear what the reported cancellation would entail, with Ars Technica noting that alternatives could include rescheduling, a move to a venue in another city, or perhaps simply transitioning to a virtual event held via live streams from developers.
Gizmodo has reached out to the ESA for comment, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.