2021 will be a monumental year for E3. The Electronic Entertainment Expo will be all-digital for the first time ever, a decision that was made in response to the worldwide pandemic. This big change is an exciting one, but also one that comes with a bit of trepidation–as many changes do. But especially if the 2021 Digital E3 event is successful, fans could be seeing the expo utilize digital functionality moving forward; specifically in a hybrid nature with a return of the in-person E3, as well.
The cancellation 0f E3 2020 was one of the biggest happenings in the world of gaming last year. Because the pandemic began so close to June, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) did not have enough time to regroup and come up with a backup plan. This year the event is all digital, but according to ESA President Stanley Pierre-Louis, the expo could be hybrid moving forward.
While speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Pierre-Louis said that the ESA is hoping to host E3 2022 in-person next year. However, some of the fresh ideas that have come with this all-digital E3 in 2021 have opened the doors to combining digital and physical in a more tangible way next year and beyond.
Pierre-Louis said his focus is on E3 2021. However, what he is looking to do is learn from 2021 and see what he, the ESA, and members of the industry will be able to take with them in future years. The gaming industry is going all-digital in 2021, but if and when it returns to a physical form–and that seems to be the plan with E3–the digital thumbprints will likely remain.
The digital E3 event will be very different from previous years. There will be obvious cons, such as the idea that the show floor is not available to the public where countless eager fans would check out upcoming titles. However, the new structure allows the messaging to be directed right to the fanbase in an interesting way.
There are many ideas that have come out of a digital E3. E3 2021 has its own dedicated app and online portal this year, for example. Pierre-Louis also talked a lot about the idea that streaming in gaming and those avenues are continuing to push the medium forward. There were reports that E3 2021 could have demos that would be pushed out to fans to play at home, almost as if they were walking through a physical show floor. Even if that idea is not yet ready in 2021, it is very plausible that this concept is the type of thing that could be implemented in a hybrid E3 approach in the future.