Shack Chat: How do you feel about E3 2020 being canceled?

It hasn't been an easy week for anyone in gaming. This week we take on the question weighing most heavily regarding the cancelation of the highly-anticipated gaming event, E3 2020.

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E3 2020 has been canceled. It's something a lot of folks in the gaming industry have had to come to terms with, but it's still not easy. For many, E3 is more than a special time of year. For the games industry, it had a reputation as the must-have event. But COVID-19 has struck it down like so many other events in 2020. E3 has gone on, rain or shine, for over 20 years. So... how do we feel about it being canceled? That's the question we take on here in this week's Shack Chat. 


Starting to train for a comeback - Asif Khan, Official Judge of E3 2018-19

E3 2020 was set to be our biggest presence ever on the showfloor with an esports event and an interview stage. Shacknews has been an exhibitor at E3 since 2016, when we celebrated our 20th anniversary. We also held our first-ever Shacknews Electronic Sports competition in 2018 when we crowned MegaMoose64 the winner of our Shacknews World Championship. In our four years as exhibitors, we had gone from an understated booth in South Hall of the LA Convention Center to a monstrous booth in West Hall last year. E3 has given me the opportunity to talk to amazing developers and hone my skills as an interviewer on our livestreams. Shacknews was one of the most watched E3 livestream channels in 2019, and we had spent the past six months laying the groundwork for 2020 to truly be a breakout year for us at the event.

To say that this is a gut punch for Shacknews is an understatement. We have lost a huge amount of revenue from the recent cancellations of events, and E3 would have been the nail in the coffin if the company had liquidity concerns. We can debate about the relevance of live trade show events, but it is undeniable that our traffic at the website, on Twitch and YouTube will be adversely impacted by E3 2020’s cancellation.

I got into this stupid industry for a chance to attend E3 2000, and it is hard to not be sad about E3 2020’s cancellation. Public safety is certainly a priority, but I also don’t think the recent string of event cancellations is good for anyone involved in covering the games industry as press or the folks who help execute events. The ripple effect of E3 2020’s cancellation will be felt for years.

E3? Are you serious? - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor

E3? You're talking about E3? Are you kidding me? E3? I just hope to get out of this thing alive. E3?

I take my father to dialysis every Thursday and now I'm afraid to even get near him out of fear of having this stupid virus and not even knowing it. I don't want to think about E3 or E4 or however many E's you want to talk about. This is serious. It's deadly serious, especially if you have elderly loved ones. And that's before getting into the permanent damage it can leave for young people. Oh, and don't get me started on what happens if the economy takes a nosedive and I can't afford to live day-to-day.

E3… get outta here with that.

Mom says It’s just going to live on a farm upstate- Blake Morse, Still in denial

Losing a loved one is tough. Even when you’ve been estranged and haven’t talked for a while due to some argument or insult you suffered at their hands in the past. Still, when someone dies, any opportunity for a sense of closure flies out the window with it. Sometimes it’s just better to let that death-bed moment happen and say all the things you want to say while there’s still time. In some ways I feel like I got that from the way we closed out E3 last year and in other ways I don’t think it will ever be enough.

Attending my first E3 was a monumental moment for me. It was the moment I felt I’d become a real pro in this industry and I’d be shocked if it didn’t have a similar effect on some of my colleagues as well. As much as it is one of the hardest, most exhausting, work weeks of the year, it’s also a chance to see friends and associates that I don’t get a chance to interact with outside of emails and a few phone calls the rest of the time. I’ve also had some crazy, once-in-a-lifetime moments thanks to the opulence of publishers - especially Activision who threw one of the most decadent events I’ve ever seen at the Staples Center that included performances by Eminem with Rihanna, Jane’s Addiction, Brian May of Queen, Tony Hawk, and Deadmaus just to name a few.

With all that said, catching lightning in a bottle is hard enough to do just once, so there’s no point in trying to do it every year. I’ve had my E3 experiences and I treasure each one for different reasons, but I’ve been there and done that. I just feel bad for the folks who dreamed of having one of their own who may never get the opportunity.

Badly - Bill Lavoy, Managing Editor

via GIPHY

It’s easy to look at E3 and how it’s struggled in recent years and shrug your shoulders, but the truth is canceling this event hurts a lot of people. It hurts businesses around the venue. It hurts staff that run the event. It hurts websites that cover games and need that brand exposure. It hurts smaller developers and publishers that depend on that same exposure to keep their heads above water. The impact of canceling E3 (as well as many other events) is not small.

I get it, though. I’m not arguing it shouldn’t have been canceled. When school boards are telling students to stay home for two extra weeks after March Break, the situation is getting serious. I just hope we can look at E3 (and other canceled events and leagues) and take a moment to realize that this isn’t just a fun thing with nothing riding on it. There was a lot riding on it for a lot of people, and this is nothing short of a gut punch for them.

Indifference - Chris Jarrard, E3 Trailer Connoisseur

I expected E3 to be canceled once GDC was shuttered, so the news didn’t really come as a surprise to me. The show was likely to be nothing more than a shadow of its former glory anyway. The absence of Sony at last year’s E3 felt like a sign of things to come and now that YouTube exists and is accessible by everyone, the only thing you miss by being absent from the actual stage presentations (from the press/fan side of things) is the roar of the audience and the chance to get sick.

The COVID-19 scare also gives the ESA a chance to kill off the show for a good reason and save some face. If it was forced to kill the show or organize a massive scale reduction due to lack of interest, the optics would be worse than the situation they find themselves in now. In the long run, this will likely be a win-win situation.

I empathize - Sam Chandler, Guides Editor

First and foremost, event organizers need to consider people’s health and wellbeing. After last year’s fiasco of doxxing attendees and journalists, it’s good to see the ESA stepping up and doing something for the health of its patrons. Hopefully this year off will give the ESA time to tighten security and ensure it doesn’t make available everyone’s home address.

On the other hand, it’s definitely disappointing that this pillar of the industry isn’t happening this year. While people have claimed E3 is dying in the past, I don’t think that would be a good thing for the industry in the slightest. Sure, companies would save bucket loads by switching to a digital-only event, but part of building a fan base is allowing them to come together to celebrate a passion. It’s why Minecon, RTX, and other events are so important. There’s value to be found in providing an environment for your fans and players to celebrate you and your product or service.

Beyond the more outward facing benefits, there are also positives for those in journalism. It’s often the one time in the year where writers from all over the world converge, offering people a chance to catch up with friends, and for people to make new connections.

Speaking personally, it was a life-long dream of mine to attend E3, and I was finally able to in 2018. It’s a highlight of my career, as I got to meet some of the incredible people I get to work with here at Shacknews.

I hope that this year off allows E3 to grow into something bigger and better in 2021. And while the physical event won’t take place, I’m still excited about the live streams on the way.

Devastated - Donovan Erskine, Industry Rookie

Going to E3 had always been a dream of mine, and was a driving factor for me trying to get into the industry. Getting to attend the show with Shacknews the past three years has been the time of my life. Of course, I was extremely excited to go back for 2020, and was clinging to a thread of hope that the show would go on. No longer having it is an immense letdown. I feel even worse for those who depended on E3 for income and to get their projects moving forward. Ultimately, it was the right decision. I’m in the ESA’s corner, hoping that they come back better with a fresh and revamped show for 2021.

I’m not pleased - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

I’m not happy with the news at all. I never get to go and rarely have time to make trips so it really bums me out that it’s not even on the table. I decide I'm not going to stay home anymore and miss it and this coronavirus outbreak has to come in and ruin everything. At this point, our likelihood of contracting the virus feels pretty high and like an inevitability, and canceling all the events in the world doesn’t seem like the most reliable way to stop the spread of a virus when people won’t even follow their own quarantine advice that they’ve been given by doctors. That said, I enjoy attending E3 and look forward to it as an event every year, so I hope that there's still a chance of it returning next year. I'll keep going back as long as there is one. Plus, even with E3 cancelled, there’s still going to be a marathon of streams and reveals all day long over the span of a few days without the fun of actually seeing the games in person. Hooray.

Well that’s a bummer - Josh Hawkins, Guides Guy

As someone who has attended E3 multiple times, it’s not really all it’s cut out to be. However, for me at least, E3 is about more than just going somewhere and getting a lot of hands-on time with games. Sure, that’s a great part of it, don’t get me wrong. But the real bread and butter for me is the time that I get to actually spend with the people I work with.

Having spent the past 5 years or so working remotely, it’s nice to get to sit down to dinner with your coworkers and talk about the day. There’s just something about it that feels good. On the other hand, getting to see all the new stuff is a lot of fun, too. Hopefully the show’s return in 2021 will be a big step forward, and we can continue onward into a brighter future for E3. I’m sad that I won’t get to go and experience the new titles hands-on, but I’m even more saddened that I won’t get to reconnect with good pals that I haven’t seen in a few years -- and that I won’t get to share a beer with those I haven’t met yet.

Throw 2020 away. 2021, Please - TJ Denzer, Coronavirus News Meister

via Gfycat

It’s quite the turn of events that after all of talk I’ve heard about E3 dying over the course of many, many years, it wasn’t even E3’s fault it was canceled this year, but rather that of a global pandemic that entirely forced the hand of the ESA and every publisher involved. Let’s be fair. If the coronavirus was not a thing, E3 would still be happening. It wouldn’t even be a debate. Would it be good? Who knows? All I know is that I’ve been doing enough news to see and hopefully convey that COVID-19 is ruining everything this year. GDC, postponed. SXSW, canceled. EVE Fanfest, canceled. IEM Katowice, no audience in house (announced the day before the event no less!). Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, League of Legends LCS, Rocket League World Championship, all canceled, postponed, or reformatted?

Coronavirus is the “No Fun Allowed” meme alive and rabid. It’s the “well, actually” of event certainty. Worst of all, it’s too easy to give away and dangerous to the already weakened.

E3 is not entirely my jam. I have been there a few times and I love it for work, and I love interacting with all the PR, my colleagues, and the experiences involved. All of that said, the ESA needs to live up to its promise and make E3 2021 a reimagined product we can all love again. I’ve seen what a good show looks like. It’s gamescom, but until gamescom comes to the United States (it won’t), I need E3 to take notes from gamescom’s press-only days, public days, and clear separation of business and interview areas from the show floor throughout the entire show. Does E3’s continued existence depend on emulating gamescom? No, I don’t think so, but it could absolutely not hurt to get a few pointers from an organization doing it so plainly right.

So give me next year. Let me see what 2021 and E3 have in store for us. But most importantly, let coronavirus die here and now and be buried forever more, ruiner of 2020 good times.

Mixed Emotions- David L. Craddock, Long Reads Editor

Pragmatically, rumors of E3's death have been greatly exaggerated. The ESA confirmed that it will take this off year to rejuvenate the show for a big return in 2021. I'll give the organization credit for two decisions: doing the responsible thing and calling off a show that gathers tens of thousands of people from all over the globe, which is a problem at the moment; and mustering the passion and enthusiasm to roll up their sleeves and attempt to return better than ever next year.

The key word there is "attempt." I'm sure E3's return next year will be exciting. I'm just not sure it will matter. E3 has been on the ropes for a long time.

E3 costs an exorbitant amount of money to attend, as an exhibitor, or as the manager of an outlet who has to pay their staff's airfare, room, and board, and other expenses accrued over the week. Imagine attending as an independent contractor and having to pay those costs out of your own pocket. For years, I've heard developers, journalists, and other attendees ask why they bother forking out so much money to attend a show that can be covered just as easily at home. Nintendo saw the writing on the wall years ago and has fashioned its popular Direct videos in lieu of a press conference. The rest of the industry finally caught up.

All this is not to say that E3's cancellation this year--or permanently--doesn't hurt anyone. Many outlets depend on E3 to promote their brand based on what the content developers have to show. From 2016 through last year, Shacknews welcomed developers onto a stage where we hosted conversations that pierced the veil of secrecy that most E3 interviews put firmly in place. We had awesome coverage planned for this year; now, it won't happen.

Thus, my mixed emotions. The pragmatist in me saw this coming years ago. The journalist in me will miss the opportunity to see friends I only get to catch up with at this one, specific event every year, as well as the opportunity to do one of my favorite things in the world: talk to people who make video games, about the video games they're so excited to make.

Sucks, but it was dying anyway - Greg Burke, Maker of Videos

via GIPHY

I haven’t been to as many E3’s as Asif, but I’ve been going since 2009. When the ESA made it public it was a completely different experience. Running around trying to avoid droves of unaccompanied, underage kids and large families was a pain. E3 became a “Do you have any Free Stuff?” convention for everyone who bought tickets. It didn’t even matter what the swag was. It could've been a turd in a paper bag. People would take it. Even though E3 2020 was looking to focus more on d-bags like Dr.DisRespect, there were also going to be game devs there and interview opportunities as well as a chance to have a booth and promote our site. I will say having a booth at E3 with your content playing on it is an amazing feeling, you feel like you’re doing good work and making it.

The ESA should not have canceled it. I feel it’s pointless to try at this point to contain this virus, It’s too late to stop the spread of it. A few people have told me that it’s not really about public safety or health, but insurance rates skyrocketing is the reason big events like E3 and SDCC get canceled. However, I do feel with conventions in 2020 being a complete wash, this will be a pivotal point for large companies like Nintendo, Microsoft and others to realize the insane amount of money wasted in these public conventions and most of them will go full digital or have smaller press only events moving forward. Only time will tell.

This one hurts- Steve Tyminski

There are a few things I look forward to every year; the Mets home opener, the March Madness College Basketball tourney, and the Electronics Entertainment Expo. The Coronavirus has made the NCAA cancel March Madness this year and move the Mets start of the season a few weeks later than originally scheduled. But E3 getting cancelled couldn’t happen could it?

The Electronics Entertainment Expo will always hold a special place in my heart and it hurts that I won’t be attending this year. I started my own blog years ago just to get an opportunity to attend E3 someday. Eight years ago, I was able to attend my first E3 and it was quite a few firsts for me at the time. It was the first time I flew on an airplane; it was the first time I’d been to Los Angeles as well as Universal Studios.

Getting to attend E3 feels like a right-of-passage for the gaming industry. That’s why it hurts that this year - a year that could make or break the show - it gets cancelled. It also hurts, as this is the only time of the year that people in the industry can meet up and hang out. I know there are a few people I used to work with that I won’t get to see this year. The same can be said for the Shack Staff, as E3 week is always a get-together week to shoot the breeze.

It will be interesting to see what happened to the Electronics Entertainment Expo moving forward. It was on life support prior to this and we’ve all heard that “E3 is dying” for years. However, this year could be the final nail in the E3 coffin.

Mixed Feelings - Jan Ole Peek, Grumpy Old Gamer

The cancellation of E3 this year didn’t surprise anyone. Given the circumstances, it’s without a doubt the right thing to do. And while much has been made of the demise of the entirety of E3, and this cancellation is seen by many as the final nail in its coffin, I think E3 still has a place in our future.

I was fortunate enough to attend E3 in person in 2018, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. True, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and if you’re a fan of video games, E3 is mostly a lot of standing in sweaty lineups for a few minutes of playtime. But there is something special about that nonetheless.

Attending E3 with a job to do, the entire event turns into a hectic time of running from appointment to appointment. It’s a very different experience. These meetings are still an important event for many in the industry, especially those working for smaller outlets or indie developers. I do not doubt that the big developers will fill the gap left by E3 with their online digital showcases, but those smaller folks will likely feel the hole left by E3’s cancellation this year.

For the casual gamer, not having a jam-packed week of trailer releases and announcements, and instead getting to spread that goodness out over a longer period, may be a good thing. I have no doubt that we’ll still get the same great coverage of all the upcoming games and hardware that excites us. We may just have to work a bit harder to find it. I have no doubt that E3 will return, but I also believe that this cancellation will lead to more online events resulting in more direct access for all the video games fans out there, and that’s nothing but positive.


And that's our thoughts on the cancelation of E3 2020. Can 2021 turn it around? Many of us hope so. Is E3 dying for good? Many seem to think so. What are your feelings on E3 2020's cancelation? Let us know in the Shacknews Chatty comment section below.

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