There have been a lot of questions surrounding conventions in the wake of COVID-19. Many would-be event goers are left wondering how and if they’ll attend conventions during the ongoing pandemic. The situation has led many events to close, and has prompted a rise in online events instead.
E3 is one of many conventions cancelled due to the pandemic. The Entertainment Software Association originally attempted to host an online convention, but plans fell through and they instead cancelled the event, promising a re-imagined experience in 2021.
The E3 team is devastated to share this news. This decision was not reached lightly, but it is the right one for the health and safety of all involved. Read our statement here: https://t.co/1uOWxTerN9 pic.twitter.com/gD2IxNACLX
— E3 (@E3) March 11, 2020
Online conventions may overtake their physical counterparts for a time
Conventions like LudoNarraCon though, have had decent success as an online event. LudoNarraCon was held on April 24 through 27, and featured many of the same attractions as a regular convention. The event featured “over 40 game exhibitors, 14 panels, a sale featuring over 50 games, and 20+ playable demos.” The convention saw decent engagement from thousands of people — likely due in part to the flourishing indie-game scene, as well as Steam’s hosting of the event.
LudoNarraCon exemplifies the validity of online conventions in lieu of physical ones — at least on a smaller scale. E3 — being a larger event — would require much more preparation and planning. This is likely why the event is being cancelled for the first time in its 25 year run. On the other hand, events like the XP Game Developer Summit have transitioned successfully from a physical to an online space.
XP Game Developers Online — as it is now known — is a “3-day games industry-focused event featuring presentations and workshops from industry experts a la GDC and a game showcase.” The event was meant to be held at the beginning of April, but is now running on April 28 and 29. Both cases serve as examples that online events can be successful, the latter proving that migrating an event to an online space is completely doable, even on short notice.
This bodes well for events like E3 and PAX, as we may see them return in one way or another for 2021. With all the uncertainty, it’s important for events to remain flexible and adaptable. If they choose to move to an online format, here’s hoping they can still capture the feeling of their physical forms.