E3 2021: Expectations for a COVID-era E3
Updated: Jun 20, 2021
We're all tired of hearing it, but 2020 was somethin' else wasn't it? We all learned how ludicrous it is that some of our jobs were in offices for as long as they were, gaming livestream showcases happened just about every weekend for almost nine months, and events were forever changed.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 as it's known in NERD circles) was one of them.
Coming off of a terrible 2019 data leak, 2020 saw E3 cancelled and replaced by alternatives like the Summer Games Fest and special publisher showcases.
It drastically changed the landscape for gaming news delivery and raised important questions about what E3 needs to be in this new era... but that's for another article. Today, we're examining how expectations should be set for E3 2021, doing a little predicting, and trying to bring some hype back into this mundane modern world.
After the event took a gap year in 2020, no one was really sure what E3 would look like in 2021. Some sort of digital event felt like the obvious option, as the only reason they couldn't cobble something together last year was the, yanno, sudden global pandemic and all that. It really started to hit the U.S. in March... E3 takes place in June. There was no helping it.
Publishers of all sizes pledged to provide updates via their own specialized livestreams, Geoff Keighley scrambled to organize a few special events under a newly established Summer Game Fest banner, and E3 as we know it moved aside to watch it all happen.
A year later, the light at the end of the tunnel feels brighter than ever (while simultaneously completely beyond reach) and E3 is ready to come out of hibernation. E3's return is the best sign that nature truly is healing.
So what can we expect?
E3 is promising "an all-virtual event that will engage everyone, everywhere." With three full days of partnered livestreams, over 25 different distribution channels for their livestream content, and an app where folks can visit "booths" and create avatars and hang out it's looking to have lofty ambitions all around.
Of course, these plans aren't without controversy. The app only went live a few days ago for members of the press and they found themselves faced with a number of head-scratching problems. First, there was the horrifying avatar creation tool. I feel like I can let the thing speak for itself here. Just a strange, strange attempt at some level of... let's say community engagement? Of course there were bugs all over the place as well. Incomplete tests on the weird gamified point and achievement system. Generic gaming wallpapers snatched from desktopbackground.org.
It's all... a bit strange.
But even with all of that, against my better judgment and 100% not as a result of any of E3's direct efforts, I think this year is going to be incredibly special.
E3 is the gathering point for the entire gaming industry. It's an event that brings everyone together all in the name of one simple thing: sick ass video games. Once a year, gamers™ know that their favorite publishers and developers will be showcasing what's coming just over the horizon. What kinds of new magic they've worked on, the latest tech, and the better gaming experiences for all that will manifest as a result.
And despite everything the event has gone through and all the mistakes the Electronic Software Association (ESA) has made in running the thing — I think developers know what E3 represents for this community.
They know this massive marketing fest is exciting. And they know we need something to cheer for after the bullshit we've recently endured.
What are we cheering for here at VGG?
Nintendo has always brought the big guns to E3 and this year, they've got some powerful and exciting bullets in the chamber. (Metroid Prime 4, Breath of the Wild 2, Bayonetta 3, and Super Mario RPG Remake... a boy can dream okay?)
Xbox is hosting their biggest event since acquiring Bethesda and we're all expecting gameplay from their highly anticipated sci-fi RPG, Starfield. And yanno, Halo's grand re-reveal after its lackluster initial showing.
PlayStation, while not hosting their own event, frequently finds ways to sneak into other showcases and blow fans out of the water.
And that's just some of what we know to expect. Kicking off everything in just a couple of hours is the master of surprises Geoff Keighley with the Summer Game Fest Kick Off Live featuring 30+ game reveals and updates. The Guerilla Collective and Wholesome Games Direct will bring the fire of indie releases, some of which will no doubt be someone's favorite game of all time. And so goddamn much more, because all told, the next five days will be host to over 32 separate livestreamed events.
This time of year is the best and it'll always mean so much to me. And while I think it's good to keep your expectations in check, let yourself hope a little between today and June 15. Because video games are good, video games are fun, and it's okay to let go and get hype with a group of nerds sometimes.
Keep tuned into VGG for a ton of E3 coverage and consider stopping by our stream at twitch.tv/Naetoid for a few livestreamed reactions wherever we can fit them. You can also find a full schedule for everything coming this week in a handy little image below.
See you on the other side.