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Digital shift sees Xbox rejoin Nintendo, Ubisoft, Capcom at E3 2021

The biggest gaming event of the year is back, but not how you remember it.

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ESA / Thumbsticks

The biggest gaming event of the year is back, but not how you remember it.

E3 is going all digital this year after its cancellation in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to hold such a large scale event, with thousands attending every year. This year, however, fans from around the world will be able to spectate the event in its digital glory between June 12 and 15, 2021.

For many, this will be similar to the YouTube-based viewing available through games press sites, as physical attendance for E3 is often locked behind expensive tickets and press only showings – not to mention that it is based in Los Angeles. However, the change to an all-digital E3 for 2021 has already had an interesting impact on the roster.

Thus far, multiple publishers have been confirmed for the event, including Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games and Koch Media. But what of the big three? There’s no sign of Sony, yet, but Nintendo and Xbox are on board, according to a press release from the ESA. That’s big news because, while Xbox has held a press conference during E3, it has in recent years ditched a presence in the Los Angeles Convention Center for its own Microsoft Theater, just across the street.

With Microsoft back on board, it will be interesting to see if PlayStation – and the other notable E3 dodgers, EA and Activision – will come back into the fold for its online-only event. Nintendo meanwhile has maintained its conference floor presence but has switched the live presser to its familiar online Nintendo Direct format, so time will tell how Nintendo will fit into E3’s digital-only plans.

With many major gaming events cancelled last year, studios began to host their own digital events, with Ubisoft, CD Projekt Red and Square Enix joining Sony, Xbox and Nintendo in the digital presentation space. These events enabled studios to effectively cut out the middle man, whilst avoiding the price tags that come with the prime real estate of E3. However, moving to online-only and segregated events negates the original purpose of E3, which acted as a central hub for industry networking. ESA President Stanley Pierre-Louis stated on the matter:

“We are evolving this year’s E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable centre stage for video games.”

There are no concrete details on what form the event will take, however, it is expected to include press exclusive showings as well as those that will be streamed freely. Regardless, gamers can rejoice at the return of the biggest gaming event of the year, showcasing some of the newest and hottest games between June 12 and 15.


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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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The most passionate casual gamer about, Aaron is a filmmaking graduate, Premiere Pro aficionado, and film and gaming journalist hailing from the windy realms of Scotland. He loves to split his time between writing articles, hosting his film podcast, producing some top-notch video content and building up a backlog of games he’ll probably never complete.