Last year, amid a mismanaged pandemic and sweeping social distancing regulations, the Entertainment Software Association called off its annual E3 event. But the stretch between late May and early November was positively littered with digital showcases and press conference conferences. If you followed video games closely, you tuned in to a new event on what felt like a weekly basis.
This post was originally published on April 16, 2021.
This year is shaping up similarly. E3 is back, but as an all-digital event. Many of the industry’s biggest players are following suit, turning to digital presentations to relay the spree of trailers, updates, reveals, and “just one more thing”s to the masses. Here’s what we know is coming so far, and we’ll update this post as organizers confirm details about upcoming events.
Summer Game Fest – June 2021
Last year, Geoff Keighley kicked off the inaugural Summer Game Fest, a months-long show of appreciation for the ouroboros of video game hype. For the most part, this meant slapping a Summer Game Fest logo in front of partnered streams, lending the promotional muscle of Keighley’s apparatus to already existent events. (In July, Summer Game Fest made more than 70 demos of indie games available on Xbox.) The whole shebang is coming back this year. According to the Summer Game Fest’s website, it’ll “feature a more condensed schedule of events across less than a month.”
Guerrilla Collective – June 5 and June 12, 11:00 a.m. ET
Guerrilla Collective will return this year for not one but two Saturdays in June, showing off more than 80 games from studios like Innersloth, 505 Games, and All In! Games. The first showcase will be followed by the Black Voices in Gaming series, dedicated to spotlighting games made by Black creators or starring Black protagonists. The second showcase will be followed immediately by the Wholesome Direct event. You’ll be able to stream it all via Guerrilla Collective’s Twitch channel.
Wholesome Direct – June 12, at 1:00 p.m. ET
Twee indie showcase Wholesome Direct will return this spring, organizer Wholesome Games announced in March. The idea behind Wholesome Direct is simple: present a slate of chill, low-stress games as a sort of antidote to the loud, bombastic games that tend to define these affairs. Expect to see more than 75 games, including Moonglow Bay and Bear and Breakfast.
E3 – June 12 through June 15
The mother of all gaming events, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is back after taking 2020 off as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. This year, it returns as an all-digital event that, despite what rumors suggested, will be totally free. E3’s 2021 schedule hasn’t yet been revealed, but confirmed exhibitors include Nintendo, Xbox, Ubisoft, Capcom, Konami, Take-Two, Koch Media, Square Enix, Sega, Bandai Namco, Gearbox, XSEED, Verizon, and WB Games. Of those, only Ubisoft has confirmed a time and date. At the moment, Sony, Rockstar, Activision, and EA have not confirmed attendance.
Ubisoft Forward – June 12, at 3:00 p.m. ET
Ubisoft’s big summer press conference, Ubisoft Forward, will land on the first day of the E3. So, what might the French mega-publisher reveal? At the moment, Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine, and Rider’s Republic don’t have release dates. Ubisoft’s big three map games from last year—Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Immortals Fenyx Rising—all have expansions in the wings. And that’s to say nothing of the other venerable franchises under Ubisoft’s umbrella. Maybe this is the year we finally get a new Splinter Cell?
PC Gaming Show + Future Games Show – June 13
This year, PC Gamer’s PC Gaming Show and GamesRadar’s Future Games Show will air as a double-header. The long-running PC Gaming Show will likely be what it always is (a spree of upcoming PC games), but the Future Games Show is newer to the circuit, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what we might see. The recent spring showcase, from March, showed more than 40 games over the course of two hours. (Two! Full! Hours!)
Pax Online – July 15 through July 18
Pax East, originally scheduled to run in early June, was cancelled and replaced with an all-digital event called Pax Online.
EA Play Live – July 22
EA is notably absent from E3’s exhibitor list. The Battlefield and Mass Effect publisher will host a digital showcase on July 22, more than a month after gaming’s biggest week officially wraps. Last year’s event revealed the existence of a new Skate in early development. Not sure how EA tops that this year.
Game Developers Conference – July 19 through July 23
The annual Game Developers Conference will return this summer, but as an all-digital event, nonetheless featuring the same buffet of talks, panels, Q-and-A sessions, and networking events. Fair warning: It’s not free, and it sure isn’t cheap. Passes start at hundreds of dollars.
QuakeCon – August 19 through August 21
Bethesda’s QuakeCon, typically held annually in Dallas, will once again take place as a digital-only event this year, some time in the middle of August. Details TBA in June. Expect peace, love, and rockets.
GamesCom Opening Night Live – August 24
GamesCom, famously held in Cologne, Germany, will be held digitally, same as it was in 2020, bucking initial plans to run as a semi-live event. The opening ceremony—a marquee event fittingly called Opening Night Live—will be streamed globally. Like last year’s event, Geoff Keighley will host. Expect “world exclusives” and “world reveals.”
Update: May 12, 6:00 p.m. ET: Updated the date and time for Wholesome Games showcase, and added info for both Guerrilla Collective streams.
Update: May 11, 12:50 a.m ET: Added EA Play Live.
Update: May 11, 10:55 a.m ET: Added QuakeCon.
Update: May 6, 9:30 a.m. ET: Added info about additional E3 exhibitors.
Update: May 5, 2:25 p.m. ET: Updated text to reflect that GamesCom pivoted from a semi-live event to a fully digital one.