- The coronavirus outbreak is already wreaking havoc on gaming conferences such as GDC 2020.
- Fears are growing that the virus could put a halt to the industry’s biggest event of the year, E3 2020.
- If this year’s E3 is canceled, the knock-on effect could potentially bring the beleaguered expo to a permanent end.
Though only just beginning to spiral in the United States, the coronavirus outbreak has already left an indelible mark on the gaming industry calendar. Major companies are pulling out of events, and GDC 2020 was even postponed. The same thing could end up happening to the year’s most prestigious trade show, E3 2020.
E3 already faced flagging interest, and the headwinds will only rage harder as the spread of the virus prompts more companies to cancel their involvement.
But if this year’s expo is canceled, it’s possible we’ll never see another E3 ever again.
Why Coronavirus Could Kill E3 for Good
According to GamesIndustry.Biz, the operators of E3 were originally moving ahead as planned in defiance of the coronavirus outbreak.
But a recent update indicates that ESA’s stance is shifting quickly now that Los Angeles County – where the event is held – and the state of California have declared a state of emergency. ESA says they’re “actively assessing the situation.”
Without a doubt, E3 2020 will be canceled if the coronavirus continues to spread. When that happens, expect the event to be replaced by live streams from each of the would-be conference presenters.
The response to those live streams could sound the death-knell for E3 for one simple reason. Live streams are much, much cheaper than presenting at a huge trade show like E3.
Assuming they don’t incur a dramatic loss in sales, publishers will realize how little E3 matters in this day and age. They may be prompted to follow Sony’s example and just stop attending altogether.
Does Anyone Actually Care If E3 Lives or Dies?
Even if coronavirus puts an end to E3 2020, it might not put a complete end to annual industry trade shows.
The economic impact of the outbreak will likely skew sales figures, making it difficult to gauge the net benefits of attending E3.
And if revenues fall, publishers may look at the loss of sales and question whether the cancellation of E3 did actually have a negative impact. That being the case, we might yet see a resurgence at the event in 2021.
Whether you cheer or jeer at either outcome is very much a matter of personal opinion. The fan-centric portion of the event – the press conferences – could very easily exist without the main show.
But despite ESA’s best attempts to destroy its brand loyalty, many gamers still have a soft spot for the traditional E3 floor shows.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.