Like most things, gaming’s biggest annual event will be a lot different this year. E3 2021 looks to resume the game industry’s big gathering after last year’s edition found itself canceled outright due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And like a lot of big events this year — whether award shows like the Grammys or trade events like CES — E3 is going virtual this time around.
E3 is usually when you can find out the biggest news and updates about your favorite gaming franchises in addition to upcoming titles. Though some believe E3 could completely disappear in the next few years, the ESA, which organizes the event, wants to press on despite the pandemic. But as you might imagine, a lot of E3 2021 details remain up in the air.
Here’s everything we know about E3 2021 at present and what to expect from it when June rolls around.
E3 2021: What it is
E3 is a video game-centric exposition that brings together small and large developers and publishers in the name of showcasing new video games, consoles, tech, and a variety of other interesting things happening in the gaming world. Inaugurated in 1995, E3 started out in California at the Los Angeles Convention Center before moving to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Due to low attendance, the show moved back to Los Angeles, where it’s remained ever since.
The last official E3 took place in 2019, as the 2020 edition was scrapped amid the coronavirus pandemic, when it wss no longer safe to gather thousands of people in one convention hall. The cancellation came too late to schedule a virtual alternative, and heavy hitters like Microsoft and Sony ended up streaming their own events to update buyers on specifics for both the PS5 and Xbox Series X launches.
In fact, many developers and publishers have shifted to their own personal presentations in the form of self-contained videos like Nintendo’s “Direct” series, attracting record numbers of participants and viewers while controlling the messaging they want to share with the masses. Sony was actually ahead of the crowd on this front, opting out of a presence at E3 2019 to host its own press event.
This, as well as many other factors —COVID-19 included — are leading some in the industry to question whether there’s still a need for a traditional E3 meetup when most of the information can simply be disseminated virtually. However, many members of the industry use E3 for camaraderie, to see what fans are saying, and to have hands-on access to some of the biggest games coming down the pipeline.
The future of E3 as a physical event is uncertain, but there’s a lot at stake if it ceases to exist the way we knew it for the past quarter of a century. Unfortunately, right now the only way to know what will happen for sure is to wait and see.
E3 2021: Scheduled dates
E3 2021 is set to take place from Tuesday, June 15 to Thursday, June 17. The show typically takes place near the middle of the week, so this timing isn’t anything new. These are the same dates that E3 set up ahead of 2021 when 2020’s show was canceled.
Previously, a look at pitch documents for E3 2021 indicated that there might even be a preview night on Monday, June 14. This would include a few smaller streams ahead of the show, but nothing concrete has been confirmed just yet.
Right now, the ESA has yet to confirm a new starting point for the event, though it might be a good idea to go ahead and keep those dates open in your calendar just in case. There are still a few months to go and it’s unclear what final direction E3 will go in this year, though a physical event is still very much out of the question.
E3 2021: What to expect
Though E3’s general focus rarely changes year after year, 2021’s concept is still very much up in the air. The ESA has planned for game demos and publishers to join the presentation to share information about new games.
There’s no list of confirmed E3 2021 participants at this point, but some of the usual mainstay events that happen in conjunction with the trade show are schedule to return. That includes June’s PC Gaming Show as well as the Future Games Show’s Spring Showcase. (Future is the publisher of Tom’s Guide.)
In terms of what games developers could bring to the table, we could potentially expect updates on the likes of these titles:
Those cover some of the titles we’ve heard about in the past, but at a proper E3, there are always plenty of new games unveiled as well. Since it’s still up in the air which developers will participate and what the main stage of E3 2021 will look like, we can only speculate which titles will appear.
For now, E3 2021 continues to be shrouded in mystery. As the months wear on, we’ll hear more about what to expect from the show.