Gaming’s Biggest Yearly Event, E3, Has Been Cancelled Because of Coronavirus

The ongoing novel coronavirus is continuing to impact the ability to hold large public events.
March 11, 2020, 3:41pm
A photo from E3 2019.
An "End of The Line" sign is held as people wait in long lines to preview games at E3, on June 12, 2019. Image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Every year, the biggest announcements in video games happen in Los Angeles at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3. This year was set to be especially important, with both Sony and Microsoft set to launch new pieces of gaming hardware later in 2020.

However, this year’s event has been cancelled, due to ongoing concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus. The event’s organizers, the Entertainment Software Association, released a statement to Variety this morning:

“After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020.

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. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today.”

It's unclear what happens next. A big part of E3 are the event's massive and highly publicized press conferences, where the major hardware companies—Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony—and some of the biggest publishers—Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Bethesda, Square Enix, others—show off their most high-profile games for the first time.

E3 has said it's looking into some kind of "digital" event that could still happen, and said the formal event will come back next year. Microsoft and Ubisoft have already committed to such an event:

Last year, the event's organizers leaked the personal information of more than 2,000 attendees.

A few weeks back, the gaming industry's largest professional gathering, the Game Developers Conference, was also cancelled. Numerous esports events and other public gatherings have also been impacted by the coronavirus. It's impact has been felt far beyond games, with large events like South By Southwest also being cancelled.

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