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Useful Notes / E3 in the 2020s

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This page covers moments of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) from 2020 to 2029.

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    E3 2020 (cancelled) 
  • E3 did not happen in 2020, as the conference was cancelled for the first time in its 25-year-history due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. When announcing the cancellation in March of that year, the ESA also stated that they hoped to "coordinate an online experience" in its place, but that hope eventually fell through due to numerous disruptions brought about by the pandemic. A few developers and publishers announced that they still planned to make announcements regardless, and the ESA assisted in promoting those announcements. All that said, given the Troubled Production in the run up to the event, the cancellation could be seen as a bit of a mercy:
    • Throughout 2019 and 2020, E3 was plagued with online security issues. In August 2019, they leaked over 2,000 media attendees' personal information, including names, addresses, and phone numbers, due to poor data sanitation, and they accidentally let the public access their website a day before it was set to launch in February 2020. An alleged pitch deck also leaked in September 2019, presenting a new potential "fan, media, and influencer festival" idea for E3 and was met with some derision.
    • As with 2019, Sony announced in January that they were once again electing to skip E3 entirely. Their given reason was that they felt "the vision of E3 2020 is not the right venue for what we are focused on this year." Since this was the year they were to release the PlayStation 5, Sony's absence from the event at a time when they were expected to have the Hollywood Hype Machine at full power was considered the first major sign that the event might be in trouble.
    • In February 2020, Geoff Keighley, host of The Game Awards and generally well-known personality within the gaming community, announced that he would not be attending E3 for the first time since the expo's creation, nor would he produce the E3 Coliseum he had been doing since 2017. His stated reason was that he didn't "feel comfortable" participating this year, and he had his own ideas on how E3 should proceed going forward. In later interviews, he commented that E3's leadership was hesitant to go digital and global, and that contributed to his dropping out of the event.
    • As part of the expo's redesign, game merchandisers iam8bit were brought on as creative directors — but then in early March (not long before the cancellation), they pulled out for undisclosed reasons.
  • In lieu of E3, a few digital events sprang up for the same timeframe. In the same way that multiple companies covered E3's presentations, multiple organizations covered the same events from various publishers:
    • IGN ran their Summer of Gaming, featuring a number of developer presentations bracketed by IGN coverage.
    • GameSpot had Play For All, a combination digital event and charity fundraiser, with over 100 hours of content spread over several weeks.
    • Geoff Keighley, who had originally planned to do nothing, ended up running the Summer Games Fest with iam8bit from May to August. It was, in his words, less of an organized event and more of a Google calendar for the industry, working with the above digital events and other companies to unite everyone in gaming under a single banner.
    • Devolver Digital went ahead with their Devolver Direct. Devolver also released Devolverland Expo, a "marketing simulator" game which has you visiting booths at an abandoned convention center while avoiding killer security drones, armed only with a power glove and a t-shirt cannon. Games shown included Shadow Warrior 3, Weird West, Blightbound, Carrion, Disc Room, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Serious Sam 4 and Olija.

    E3 2021 
  • E3 2021 was held June 12 to 15 (over the weekend — when exhibitors generally held their conferences anyway — rather than mid-week) as a digital-only event officially rebranded for the year as the Electronic Entertainment Experience 2021, as the United States was still in the early stages of widespread COVID vaccination at the time. Though the event still had the backing of industry titans like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Ubisoft, many of the recently missing remained absent - EA, Sony, and Activision-Blizzard did not have a presence. On May 13, a free application was announced to serve as the main online hub for the digital event, featuring dedicated exhibitor booths and areas for fan gatherings.
  • Of note this year was the sheer number of presentations. Even companies who had never shown up at E3 had their own digital exhibitions, including but not limited to companies like Netflix, Verizon and Intellivision. With no physical show or stage presence, it seemed like E3 instead opted to fill the time with whatever company wanted to present.
  • Geoff Keighley again opted not to officially participate in E3 this year, this time running the Summer Game Fest with iam8bit and new partner Amazon Prime Gaming as a sort of rival event. A few big announcements occurred on the Fest's starting date at both the official kickoff livestream and a subsequent presentation by IGN, strategically dated for June 11 - the day before E3 proper began. Some (but not all) of these announcements were the re-debut of FromSoftware and George R. R. Martin's Elden Ring, slated for a January 2022 launch; updated versions of Death Stranding and Doki Doki Literature Club!, with the former being a Director's Cut release for the PS5 with no announced date and the latter adding new content and updated graphics set to release physically and digitally on all then-current consoles and PC later that month on June 30; and finally, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, a Borderlands spinoff in the vein of the Tiny Tina's Assualt on Dragon Keep DLC campaign from Borderlands 2.
  • Ubisoft:
  • Devolver Digital continued their tradition of parodical presentations outside of E3 proper (being part of the Summer Game Fest instead). This one was set in a new "continuity", as it were, that featured the same cast and was centered around the totally real Devolver MaxPass+, a free subscription service that offers all Devolver Digital titles as premium purchases (don't worry, you're already subscribed). Besides that, eight upcoming releases- er, "Devolver MaxPass+ Premium Purchases" were showcased:
    • More details were revealed for Shadow Warrior 3, set to release later in 2021.
    • Trek to Yomi, a 2½D action game inspired by classic samurai films, was announced for a 2022 release.
    • Having been announced the previous month, asynchronous multiplayer temple exploration game Phantom Abyss was dated for a Steam Early Access release on June 22.
    • The rather bluntly-named Wizard With A Gun, a cooperative sandbox survival game, was also announced for release in 2022.
    • Death's Door, an isometric hack-and-slash game about tracking down a stolen soul set to be reaped, was dated for release on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Steam July 20, 2021.
    • Inscryption, a psychological horror game with card and escape room mechanics from Pony Island and The Hex creator Daniel Mullins, was announced and dated for later in 2021.
    • In the vein of Devolver Bootleg and Devolverland Expo, a free-to-play matching puzzle game for mobile phones entitled Devolver Tumble Time was announced for release in 2021.
    • Finally, Demon Throttle, a vertical-scrolling Shoot 'Em Up by the developers of Gato Roboto, was announced for a limited-run physical-only release on Nintendo Switch sometime in 2022, with pre-orders going live that day. And yes, you read that right: this game was only going to get a single, limited physical run, with no digital release planned.
  • Microsoft and Bethesda had a joint presentation this year, with the former having finalized their acquisition of the latter earlier in March 2021. Following its tease as "Project Scarlett" at E3 2019, this was the first proper E3 show for the Xbox Series X|S which was released during the 2020 holiday season.
    • Todd Howard kicked off the showcase with a short trailer for Bethesda's next big single-player RPG, Starfield. Having been planned for release on all ninth-generation consoles before the Microsoft acquisition, it was, unsurprisingly, revealed that the game was now only going to release on Xbox Series and PC, with said release set for November 11, 2022.
    • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, Psychonauts 2, and Age of Empires IV were all finally given release dates: STALKER 2 was dated for April 28, 2022 as a temporary Xbox and PC exclusive, Psychonauts 2 was set for August 25, 2021, and Age of Empires IV for October 28, 2021.
    • Avalanche Studios revealed their next game, the open-world co-op action game Contraband, with a short teaser trailer. No date was provided.
    • A free Pirates of the Caribbean-themed expansion for Sea of Thieves, entitled A Pirate's Life, was revealed, with players getting to team up with Captain Jack Sparrow himself to take on Davy Jones. The expansion was dated for later that month on June 22.
    • A couple big pre-existing releases were revealed to be coming to Xbox Game Pass: Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the final mainline Yakuza game not already on Game Pass, was added that very day, while indie darling Hades was announced for both a Game Pass and physical Xbox release later that year on August 13. Ten additional Bethesda games, including the first three Fallout games and Fallout Tactics, were also added the day of the presentation.
    • DICE showcased some gameplay for Battlefield 2042, the latest game in the long-running FPS franchise. EA had revealed the game earlier that week, dating it for an Xbox, PlayStation, and PC release on October 22, 2021.
    • New content for Fallout 76 was revealed, including the Brotherhood of Steel-centric Steel Reign update, set for release July 7, and the announcement of "Expeditions", repeatable story-based missions that are set outside the game's main setting of Appalachia. The first of these Expeditions, set for release in 2022, was announced to be set in The Pitt from the self-titled Fallout 3 DLC.
    • Having missed its November 2020 release date announced at E3 2019, Halo Infinite was given some time to shine with both a story trailer teasing the game's plot and a look at the game's multiplayer, which was announced to be releasing as a separate free-to-play experience. Both the single-player and multiplayer were slated for a Holiday 2021 release.
    • A Plague Tale: Requiem, the sequel to A Plague Tale: Innocence, was announced with a pre-rendered trailer for a 2022 release on Xbox and PC.
    • A sequel to indie hit Slime Rancher, titled Slime Rancher 2, was announced to be releasing in 2022 as a temporary Xbox and PC exclusive.
    • Obsidian confirmed that a sequel to The Outer Worlds was in development exclusively for Xbox Series consoles and PC with a very tongue-in-cheek CGI trailer.
    • The hotly-anticipated fifth entry in the Forza Horizon series was revealed for Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles, and PC, with Mexico as the game's setting and a new TrackMania/GTA Online-style Level Editor called the Events Lab to be part of the game. It was dated for November 9, 2021.
    • To cap off the presentation, Arkane Studios revealed their next title, a vampire and occult-themed co-op shooter named Redfall, with a CGI trailer. It was slated for Summer 2022, exclusively for Xbox Series consoles and PC.
    • While it isn't a game and didn't pop up until after the usual "end-of-presentation sizzle reel", we'd be remiss not to mention the Xbox Mini Fridge — an Ascended Meme of jokes that the Series X looked like a refrigerator, and something that Microsoft promised to make for real if they won the #BestOfTweets Brand Bracket held by Twitter that March — which was revealed to be available for purchase during the 2021 holiday season.
    • Microsoft also followed up with Xbox Games Showcase: Extended the following Thursday, a three-hour presentation with more details on the games featured.
  • Square Enix's Square Enix Presents:
    • The first announcement was that Square wasn't done with Marvel Comics properties just yet, with Eidos Montreal heading up a Guardians of the Galaxy game, featuring the team lineup from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with Star-Lord as the player character. It was slated for release on October 26, 2021.
    • This was followed up with the announcement of Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster, a remastered collection of the first six games in the series but only for Steam and mobile phones.
    • A 2021 content roadmap for Crystal Dynamics' beleaguered Marvel's Avengers was provided, including a cinematic trailer for the then-upcoming War for Wakanda expansion that added Black Panther to the game. The expansion was dated for August 2021.
    • Babylons Fall, Square Enix and PlatinumGames' live-service co-op action game announced way back at E3 2018 finally resurfaced with both a gameplay trailer and a developer interview.
    • Deck Nine's Life Is Strange: True Colors, announced earlier that year for release on September 10, 2021, was given a showcase. Life Is Strange: Remastered Collection, which contains remastered versions of the first two games and Before the Storm and is included as a part of the Ultimate Edition of True Colors, was also given a trailer and announced for release outside said Ultimate Edition later that same month, on September 30.
    • The last announcement was the reveal of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, a spinoff title from Koei Tecmo's Team Ninja and creative director Tetsuya Nomura, which involves a trio of supposed Warriors of Light aiming to defeat Chaos...who suspiciously appears to be Garland from the very first Final Fantasy game.

    E3 2022 (cancelled) 
  • With the COVID-19 Pandemic still looming large, there was no in-person E3 event in 2022. An official cancellation of the digital event came at the end of March, coincidentally the same day that the Summer Game Fest was announced to return.
  • Sony, while not officially a part of the Summer Game Fest, more-or-less kicked off the month of reveals with a State of Play presentation a few days prior to the start of the Fest on June 2. Among the announcements were reveals for Resident Evil 4 Remake and Final Fantasy XVI, news that Spider-Man (PS4) would be releasing on PC, a release date for Stray, and new footage for Street Fighter 6.
  • On June 6, the 2022 Summer Game Fest began, which for roughly a week acted as the not-quite-E3 for that year, even having a small in-person event for press and influencers to demo select games over the weekend. Two major E3 regulars were among those who had affiliated digital showcases: Devolver Digital's annual antics continued with a "Countdown to Marketing" presented by Mecha-Suda51 on June 9, and Microsoft and their subsidiary Bethesda once again held a joint showcase on June 12 (with an extended cut airing just two days later) with a stern emphasis on titles that would be releasing within the following twelve months. The latter showcase notably featured announcements from Activision Blizzard, who Microsoft was in the process of acquiring at the time. In terms of big no-shows, both EA and Ubisoft announced ahead of time that they were not holding summer showcase events that year.
  • Nintendo:
    • The Pokémon Company released a new trailer for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet on June 1, revealing the games' legendaries.
    • Nintendo forwent having a general Nintendo Direct featuring any first-party content, spreading out new information about Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Bayonetta 3, and Splatoon 3 over the course of the summer via dedicated Directs and social media posts. They would, however, have a Mini Partner Showcase on June 28 that focused on third-party games. While there were some reveals, such as the porting of NieR: Automata to the Switch, the GBA Mega Man Battle Network games getting their own Legacy Collection (or collections for digital buyers), and a full remake of Pac-Man World, the big spotlights were given to previously-known games (Monster Hunter: Rise's Sunbreak expansion and Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, which Ubisoft would further detail in a dedicated showcase the following day) and the porting of three Persona games to the system: Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal, which many predicted following a similar announcement at Microsoft's event. There was also a Treehouse presentation for the Live A Live remake, which released the following month.