May 12, 2021 - Technology

Gaming's big summer events will continue virtually

Lanyard with a yellow badge that has a question mark on it

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

By 2022, two years of online events will have proven that game developers have more options than ever to reach their audiences without ever leaving home.

The big picture: Gaming's biggest annual showcase, E3, returns as a digital experience in a month, but companies are steadily finding new ways to communicate directly with their audiences, without the need to center it on a flashy in-person show in the middle of June.

  • Two weeks ago, Konami announced that it would not be ready to present “due to timing” and would be withdrawing.
  • "We want to reassure our fans that we are in deep development on a number of key projects," the company said on Twitter, promising news in the coming months.
  • Sony will also skip E3, keeping with the pattern it established over the past few years.

Instead, we're in for a lot of livestreams, scattered across the entire summer:

  • E3 2021, June 12–15
  • Geoff Keighley's seasonal event, Summer Game Fest, is returning this year in June.
  • EA Play Live is skipping E3's grip entirely and will take place July 22.
  • GDC 2021 will hold a more traditional event, including the IGF awards, online July 19–23.
  • QuakeCon, Aug. 19–21, is digital only.
  • GamesCom, Aug. 25–27, initially announced as a "hybrid" digital and in-person event, will be digital only as of this week.
  • Xbox is also expected to hold a summer event with Bethesda.

Flashback: The ESA plans to return to an in-person E3 in 2022, but E3 2019 drew in only 66,100 attendees, compared to 2018's reported 69,200.

  • Companies like Nintendo, which opts for mini-press conferences as Nintendo Directs, rather than a single yearly rundown, already figured out that doing news in shorter doses drums excitement.
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