Following the cancellation of E3 2020, the annual game expo is back with a bang for 2021 in a new online-only format. As confirmed by the ESA, E3 2021 is set to kick off in mid-June and is set to feature announcements from publishers including Microsoft, Nintendo and Take-Two Interactive, so expect a busy four-day event.
Here’s all you need to know about E3 2021, from dates, pricing and how you can tune in, alongside all the confirmed publishers, streams and the games we expect to see at the show.
When is E3 2021?
As confirmed by the ESA, E3 2021 is set to run between 12 and 15 June 2021. That’s slightly later than plans for last year, with E3 2020 scheduled to run between 9 and 11 June before it was cancelled entirely amidst the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Of course, that’s still an issue right now and it’ll likely continue for some time, which is why the ESA decided to shift to an online-only focus for E3 2021.
The show will mainly be accessible via a new E3 app and online portal - more below - with Stanley Pierre-Louis, president of the ESA, teasing “major reveals and insider opportunities that make [E3] the indispensable center stage for video games”.
Confirmed E3 2021 publishers and events
As with previous years, not every publisher will take to the stage at E3, with publishers like EA traditionally running its own show in parallel to E3, and that means you shouldn’t expect announcements from every publisher – although the ESA has already had commitments from several publishers including:
- Microsoft & Bethesda - 13 June 2021 at 1pm ET/6pm BST
- Take-Two Interactive
- Warner Bros. Games
- Koch Media
Microsoft has confirmed that it"ll be holding a joint conference with the newly acquired Bethesda at E3 2021 in an interview with IGN. Xbox Game Studio boss Matt Booty confirmed that Microsoft and Bethesda will "introduce players to their upcoming projects" together at the conference taking place on Sunday 13 June.
There are a few big omissions from that list, including Activision-Blizzard, Konami EA and Sony, although they aren’t exactly a surprise given their absence in recent years.
Which game announcements should I expect?
It’s too early to say with certainty which games are going to be showcased during E3 2021, but given the list of confirmed publishers and the huge swathe of in-development games right now, we expect to see the following titles in some form at E3 2021:
- Battlefield 6
- Far Cry 6
- Rainbow Six Quarantine
- Skull & Bones
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
- The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
- Next-gen GTA Online (or possibly even GTA VI)
How can I watch E3 2021?
The good news about the online focus of E3 2021 is that you’ll be able to watch everything from the comfort of your own home, arguably a big improvement on the busy, hot mess that is the regular in-person event depending on who you ask.
According to the E3 2021 website, those that want to join in on the fun can expect not only big press conferences with new trailers and announcements, but a four-day-long video stream showcasing smaller titles, developer interviews and more.
That content is accessible mainly via a combination of an online portal and a dedicated smartphone app. The ESA has described the portal and app as "a key hub for the duration of the show" featuring livestreams, announcements, virtual booths, online forums and more, and you"ll get to customise your own avatar too. It is a gaming show after all!
The virtual exhibitor booths will offer special events as well as VOD content, and will act as a hub for all announcements from that exhibitor. It gets a little weirder in the social department, with the ESA teasing "gathering spots for all E3 attendees" and leaderboards that encourage as much interaction as possible.
The app will be available to press and industry professionals from 7 June 2021, while the public will be able to download it from the beginning of the show on 12 June 2021. Media professionals can sign up for access via the E3 Expo website now, while members of the public will be able to register from 3 June 2021.
Despite the reveal of the new app, the ESA has confirmed that attendees will also be able to live stream announcements on the likes of YouTube and Twitch, so don"t worry too much if you don"t like the sound of the E3 app.
Will I have to pay to watch E3 2021?
Before confirming this year’s show, rumours were circulating suggesting that the ESA was planning to monetise the show, locking specific content behind a paywall on the E3 website. It’s not hard to see why the ESA would want to try and monetise the show given it usually charges $149-249 for the pleasure, but it’s safe to say that fans weren’t happy about the idea.
Thankfully, the rumours proved to be untrue, with the ESA confirming that E3 2021 is set to be completely free for all those who want to tune in from the comfort of their own homes, reiterating in a recent press release that "registration for access to the online E3 portal will be free".
As we hear more details we’ll be sure to update this article, so head back soon for the latest E3 2021 news.