Update: Immediately following this story, the ESA made it official. E3 2020 is canceled. Here's what the games lobby had to say:
"After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry—our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners—we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles." It added that it will be looking into ways "to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020."
The suggestion has been in the air for some weeks following recent cancellations or postponements to shows like GDC and even events that go beyond games, like SXSW and Coachella. Then last night, Devolver Digital hinted at the news to come. "Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all." This led to many outlets reporting similar whispers that they've been hearing which state E3 2020 will officially be canceled by the ESA later today.
It all comes, of course, on the heels of the coronavirus spreading across the world and infecting upwards of 100,000 people that we know of to date. An additional unknown number of people are believed to be sick but not yet showing symptoms.
The pandemic is a final nail on the coffin for E3's hopes this year, but it follows many more problems for the event and its organizers. The ESA has taken much criticism in recent years for failing to establish an identity for E3 as it's shifted from trade show to fan event. Last year, the event website negligently leaked the personal information of thousands in the games industry and have still yet to apologize or explain the slip up to any satisfying degree.
This year's E3 was rumored to alter much of the showfloor experience for attendees, including more celebrity involvement, and "queuetainment" stations to keep players in long lines occupied. We never got to see much of its reimagining before Geoff Keighley announced he was dropping out of the show's production team, after not having missed an E3 for decades. If that reversal of an endorsement wasn't bad enough, another of the show's biggest organizers, iam8bit, dropped out just recently too.
All signs indicated that E3 was already in danger even before the virus began to spread and alter the way people are living, and it became the last straw - for this year at least.
Official word from the ESA is expected today and it will be interesting to see what it says about next year's prospects. The cancellation may give them time to go back to the drawing board and really reconsider what E3 might look like in the future.
It comes at a most awkward time for the industry as companies are gearing up to reveal their next generation consoles like the Xbox Series X and PS5. Assumedly, Microsoft and Sony will now put on their own shows of some kind to promote their new machines, and it's likely they've already been deep in those planning stages for weeks.