Microsoft will still host a digital E3 press conference

Xbox Phil Spencer

E3 is cancelled amid increasing worry about the spread of coronavirus in the United States. The Entertainment Software association says it’s “exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience,” and Microsoft has gotten out early to confirm its plans to go ahead with a digital Xbox showcase in the vein of its past E3 press conferences.

“E3 has always been an important moment for Team Xbox,” Xbox chief Phil Spencer says on Twitter. “Given this decision, this year we’ll celebrate the next generation of gaming with the community and all who love to play via an Xbox digital event. Details on timing and more in the coming weeks.”

The Xbox brand still has plenty to showcase this year, with or without the traditional live event, from the Xbox Series X and xCloud to software-focused announcements like the Halo Infinite release date. Microsoft’s Sunday showcase traditionally served as an unofficial kick-off to E3, with a day of press conferences from other publishers following on Monday, before the show floor itself would open on Tuesday.

It’s unclear how Xbox’s new plans fit into the ESA’s exploration of “an online experience,” but for most players who couldn’t attend the conference, E3 was always more about the livestreamed presentations and ostentatious trailers than anything else.

Even as E3 2020 is dead, the E3 2020 games will live on – so not much is changing for everyday gamers at home. But E3 served as a tremendous revenue source for the ESA, and a terrific opportunity for developers and publishers to meet and pursue deals. The impact of E3’s absence this year likely won’t be public, but it could be substantial.