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E3 2021: Origins, biggest announcements, and online format of 2021 event

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, popularly known as E3, is the largest annual business conference for the gaming industry. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) oversees the arrangements and presentations for this premier event.

E3 serves as a noble opportunity for numerous video game developers and publishers, and gaming hardware and accessories companies, to showcase and promote their upcoming products and projects to retailers, members of the press, and gaming enthusiasts around the world.

Usually, the E3 convention takes place in June at the Los Angeles Convention Center in the United States. During the event and in the days leading up to it, well-known publishers and hardware manufacturers typically organize press conferences to outline their announcements of new games and product releases.

Origin and history of E3

Before E3 came into existence, game publishers would attend other business exhibitions to showcase their new or upcoming products. This included shows like the European Computer Trade Show and the Consumer Electronics Show.

The first-ever E3 conference took place from May 11 to May 13, 1995, under the Interactive Digital Software Association (ISDA) supervision. This same trade association eventually became the ESA. The event was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It would go on to become the convention's customary location in the years to come.

Previously, E3 used to be an industry-only event. This meant attendees would have to verify a professional association with the gaming industry. However, with live streaming becoming a thing, the organizers decided to broadcast many of the press conferences to the wider public. This helped expand on the overall outreach and perceptibility of the event.

Ultimately, E3 became accessible to the broader public since 2017. That year, ESA issued 15,000 purchasable passes for the common public willing to attend the gaming exposition event.

Some of the biggest announcements of E3 2019

The last E3 gathering to take place was that of E3 2019, held from June 11 to June 13. A majority of the announcements focused on new and upcoming games scheduled for release later that year or early next year. Even without Sony's presence at the event for the first time, it was still an incredible show.

One of the most discussed topics was the breathtaking Keanu Reeves appearance as we learned that he was featuring in Cyberpunk 2077. Though EA didn't directly participate, they presented a full revelation of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and other titles like Madden NFL 20 and FIFA 20. We also learned about Japanese developer From Software's collaboration with American novelist George R R Martin for the upcoming game Elden Ring.

Square Enix provided lots of new details regarding Marvel's Avengers, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and many other titles. The titles featured by Nintendo included the likes of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Meanwhile, Microsoft announced its plans for its next-gen consoles with Xbox Series X.

Bethesda featured several games like Fallout 76, Doom Eternal, as well as the upcoming one in Deathloop. The press conference from Ubisoft outlined titles such as Watch Dogs: Legion, and Gods and Monsters, among several others. Developer Digital did the same with their press broadcast, showcasing games like Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout.

Cancellation of 2020 event and the digital format of the 2021 event

Originally scheduled to take place from June 9-11, ESA had to cancel E3 2020. This was due to obvious concerns from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This made it the first time since the launch of the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 1995 that it was withheld from happening.

E3 2021 will become the 26th such gaming expo and will take place from June 12 to June 15, 2021. The ESA initially had hoped for holding an in-person event. But they had to change their plans because of the ongoing pandemic situation. As a result, they settled for an entirely digital format for the 2021 event.

E3 2021 will be completely hosted online and will be free for all to attend. For hosting the virtual event, the ESA came up with a mobile app and online portal for the public. Members of the media and press will receive access to the app and portal about a week before the event. On the other hand, the common public will gain access to it on the start date of the event.