LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 12: A gamer plays Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield at E3 2019 at the Los Ange...

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E3 is back as a digital-only event in 2021. Here’s what you need to know.


E3 2021 schedule, dates, app, and who's participating in the digital event

E3 returns after a year off and big names like Microsoft, Ubisoft, Gearbox, and WB Games are already backing it. This is everything we know about the event.

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E3 2019 was already rough due to the absence of PlayStation, but the iconic and long-running June video game expo had to take 2020 off because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Geoff Keighley’s unaffiliated Summer Game Fest took E3’s place and featured a variety of digital events from several video game publishers.

While a year without an E3 felt quite odd, the Entertainment Software Association confirmed in April 2021 that E3 2021 would finally return in June. This is everything we know about the event so far, including dates, price, which major publishers are attending, and how it relates to Summer Game Fest.

When are the E3 2021 dates?

The ESA revealed that E3 2021 will run from June 12 until June 15. In other words, the show will be spread across four days from Saturday to Tuesday. We can expect a flurry of announcements from video game publishers and events for fans during those days. The name also means something slightly different this year: It stands for Electronic Entertainment Experience instead of Electronic Entertainment Expo.

“We are evolving this year’s E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games,” ESA President and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis explained in a press release.

Developers and publishers from around the video game industry use E3 to showcase new games each year.

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The ESA won’t be the only one livestreaming the event either. The ESA has confirmed that IGN, PC Gamer, GamesRadar, GameSpot, Polygon, and Game Bonfire are all media partners for the event. As such, they’ll have their own officially endorsed E3 broadcasts and coverage.

What is the E3 2021 app?

As E3 is a digital-only event this year, the ESA opted to create an app with Game Cloud Network, Revyrie, and HCL Technologies. The app and online portal for E3 will be released later this month. They will also be free, so fans don’t have to buy any expensive tickets this year.

Within the app, users will be able to visit Exhibitor Booths that will contain videos, articles, and events for every participating publisher’s games or products. Players can discuss these announcements in the forums and online lounges within the app.

Some booths will also apparently have some gamified elements for users that interact with their games, so the app will also have leaderboards to show who is doing the best. Most importantly though, you’ll be able to watch the main E3 live broadcast right from the app for press conferences, panels, and other livestreamed content.

It’s certainly an odd approach to a video game event and unlike anything E3 has done before. It remains to be seen if this new strategy will work out, or if the app will be rife with issues during its first year.

Which game developers and publishers will be at E3 2021?

While a year of independent events could have caused most publishers to abandon E3 altogether, quite a few are still clearly on board. The following nine companies have confirmed that they are attending E3 2021 (we’ve also listed games in development at game studio):

  1. Nintendo (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Splatoon 3)
  2. Xbox (Halo Infinite, Psychonauts 2)
  3. Capcom (Monster Hunter Stories 2, Pragmata)
  4. Ubisoft (Far Cry 6, Riders Republic)
  5. Take-Two Interactive (Kerbal Space Progam 2, NBA 2K22)
  6. Warner Bros. Games (Hogwarts Legacy, Gotham Knights)
  7. Koch Media (Chorus, Payday 3)
  8. Square Enix (Final Fantasy XVI, Forspoken)
  9. Sega (Endless Dungeon, Total War: Warhammer 3)
  10. Bandai Namco Entertainment (Tales of Arise, Elden Ring)
  11. XSEED Games (Rune Factory 5, Shadowverse: Champions Battle)
  12. Gearbox Entertainment (Tribes of Midgard, Homeworld 3)
  13. Freedom Games (Coromon, One Lonely Outpost )
  14. Devious Eye Entertainment (Awoken: Chapter One of Reverie)
  15. Turtle Beach
  16. Verizon
  17. Binge.com

The ESA promises that more developers and publishers will join E3 2021 in the future. These are just the earliest ones to confirm their involvement. It seems like publishers that avoid E3 in recent years, such as EA and PlayStation, won’t attend the conference this year.

As for what to expect from these publishers, the ESA is teasing that there will be lots of press conferences across a four-day livestream. We expect Microsoft and Nintendo to hold their typical E3 events and will almost definitely hear about more showcases as we approach E3 2021.

Is E3 2021 free?

Some reports emerged ahead of the showcase’s announcement saying that E3 2021 might have a paid component. While those reports were concerning, it appears that fans don’t have to worry about paying for access to a digital-only event. The ESA confirmed that the event would be free to access, so you shouldn’t worry about paying to view a livestream.

The press release confirming the event reiterated that it would be free to the public. As of April 2021, there is no paid competent of this year’s E3. We’ll update this post if that changes and as more information about the event emerges.

Is E3 2021 related to Summer Game Fest?

As Geoff Keighley used to host parts of E3, you might think E3 2021 is related to Summer Game Fest and the June 2021 Day of Devs presentation. While Keighley will likely relay E3 announcements on his Twitter and is setting his showcase close to E3, the events aren’t officially affiliated in any way.

This shows that while E3 is returning this year, it certainly won’t be the only source for both indie and AAA news this summer. Which is to say that things possibly won’t ever be like they used to.

E3 returns on June 12, 2021.

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