Tons of planned tech conventions and live events were canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That included the 2020 edition of E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), the massive annual video game trade show that is usually held in Los Angeles. However, most of the major game publishers held livestreams during the planned E3 2020 week that showed off their upcoming game lineup. So will things stay the same for E3 2021?
We will give you the heads up on what’s happening with E3 2021 this year, along with a list of scheduled events from publishers and other media outlets. As you will see, E3 is technically back, but in a new form.
What is E3?
E3 is the annual trade show and conference for video games. It is organized by the Electronic Software Association (ESA), the official US trade association for the video game industry. The first E3 was held in 1995. With just a few exceptions, the show had been held each year at the Los Angeles Convention Center. As mentioned, the 2020 edition was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Even though COVID-19 cases are going down in Los Angeles, the decision was made early in 2021 to cancel an in-person E3 event. Instead, the ESA will hold a virtual E3, although some of the livestream events will be based at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
When is E3 2021?
Officially, the virtual event will be held from Saturday, June 12 through Tuesday, June 15. However, there will be a few gaming-themed livestreams and announcements that will be made starting on Wednesday, June 9.
Can I attend the virtual E3 2021?
Yes, you can! You can go ahead and register to check out the virtual event right now at the E3 website. The best news? It will be free to access. Media outlets, video game online influencers, and industry members can also register for E3 2021.
The ESA says that on Saturday, June 12, the official E3 apps and online portal will go live. They will allow registered users to access virtual booths from game developers and publishers, along with online lounges and forums for attendees to chat with other video game fans. It will also let users access the official E3 livestream, with extra features like online polls, featured tweets from viewers, and more. Also for the first time, there will be an official E3 awards event at the closing of the Expo. Details about that event have yet to be revealed as of this writing.
What publishers and companies will be “attending” E3 2021?
Many companies will have virtual booths to visit online at the E3 portal. Other companies will just be holding livestream events during the week, including a couple that are not “officially” a part of the Expo. Here’s a list of the official game publishers that will be a part of the virtual trade show in 2021.
- 24 Entertainment (livestream only)
- Arcade 1Up
- Bandai Namco
- Burgos Games
- Devious Eye Entertainment
- Freedom Games
- Gearbox Entertainment
- Ghost Street Games
- Hooded Horse
- Impulse Gear
- Intellivision Amico
- Microsoft (livestream only)
- NetEase Games
- OtterBox Gaming
- Sega (livestream only)
- Saudi Gamer
- The Sixth Hammer
- Square Enix
- Take Two Interactive
- Turtle Beach
- TicToc Games
- Warner Bros Interactive (livestream only)
- XSeed Games
- Yooreka Studio (livestream only)
Sony is once again bypassing E3 this year and Konami won’t be there either. Electronic Arts will also officially not be attending, although it will have a major game reveal just before E3 2021 begins. Instead, EA is set to hold an EA Play showcase over a month later on July 22. Activision Blizzard won’t officially have a presence, but some new info on Activision games and may be revealed on the Summer Games Fest livestream.
E3 2021 schedule of events
Here’s what we know so far about the current livestreams that will be held just before, and during E3 2021. Keep in mind that a few of these livestreams are not official E3 events and are not officially sanctioned by the ESA. We will update this list when more info is revealed.
Wednesday, June 9
Next Battlefield reveal by EA — 7AM PT (10AM ET)
Electronic Arts is not officially participating in E3 this year, but the publisher is using the Expo’s time period for the big reveal of the next title in the Battlefield military first-person shooter franchise.
Thursday, June 10
Summer Games Fest — 11AM PT (2PM ET)
Geoff Keighley’s summer showcase returns for its sophomore outing. It’s not officially part of E3, but you can expect some big announcements. Case in point, the event is promising over 30 new game reveals and major game updates. We already know one of those game reveals will be an all-new title from Gearbox Software and 2K Games. Other publishers, including many that won’t officially be at E3 (including Activision Blizzard) could also show off new games during the livestream.
Friday, June 11
Netflix Geeked Week: Games — 9AM PT (12PM ET)
Netflix is joining in the game fun with this special video event. It won’t be announcing any games, per se. However, it will offer updates on new movies and TV shows based on games, including The Witcher, The Cuphead Show, and Resident Evil. You can check it out at Netflix’s YouTube channel.
Koch Gaming Prime Time — 12PM PT (3PM ET)
Koch Media, the parent company of game publisher Deep Silver, will be holding its own livestream to show off some upcoming game titles. You can check out the stream at Weknowsomethingyoudontknow.com.
IGN Expo — 1PM PT (4PM ET)
Saturday, June 12
Guerrilla Collective — 8AM PT (11AM ET)
This livestream will showcase a ton of new and upcoming games from small and independent developers. You can get the details at the event’s website.
Wholesome Direct — 10AM PT (1PM ET)
Like cutesy games? You’ll want to check out the second ever Wholesome Direct, which will feature more than 75 adorable titles. You’ll be able to stream the show via the Wholesome Games website.
UbiSoft Forward — 11AM PT (2PM ET)
Ubisoft is the first of the truly major game publishers to hold an official E3 livestream event. It will kick off with the reveal of new updates for many of the publisher’s current live games, followed by new gameplay trailers and reveals, including the official first look at the newly renamed Rainbow Six: Extraction.
Devolver Digital — 1:30PM Pacific Time (4:30PM ET)
The ever-crazy indie publisher Devolver Digital may not be an official part of E3, but its annual livestreams are perhaps the most entertaining to watch. Expect some new game announcements and updates on upcoming games like Shadow Warrior 3 and more. You can check it out at the publisher’s YouTube page.
Gearbox Entertainment — 2PM PT (5PM ET)
Borderlands developer Gearbox is already planning to announce a new game during the Summer Games Fest, but apparently, the studio has more to disclose in this separate 30-minute livestream. It will be available to watch via the official E3 2021 portal.
Sunday, June 13
Microsoft-Bethesda Showcase — 10AM PT (1PM ET)
This may be the biggest event of E3. Microsoft will announce a ton of upcoming Xbox Series X, Series S, and PC games during this 90-minute livestream, including titles from its recently acquired Bethesda Softworks studios. You can watch it live on the official Xbox YouTube channel.
Square Enix — 12:15PM PT (3:15PM ET)
The Japanese publisher will hold its own showcase during E3 2021. It will offer updates on current games, and will also reveal an all-new game from Eidos-Montréal, the team behind Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. You can check it out on the publisher’s YouTube channel.
New Back 4 Blood gameplay — 2PM PT (5PM ET)
Warner Bros Games will show off new footage and reveal more info for the upcoming co-op zombie first-person shooter Back for Blood on Sunday. You can catch it via the official E3 2021 portal.
PC Gaming Show/Future Game Show — 2:30PM PT (5:30PM ET)
The folks at Future Publishing are once again holding their own game showcases during the E3 2021. The PC Gaming Show will highlight new PC games and updates from a variety of publishers.
Right after that show concludes, the Future Games Show will take a broader look at upcoming console and PC games.
Monday, June 14
Razer — 3PM PT (6PM ET)
Igor Bonifacic / Android Authority
The gaming hardware and accessory company will hold its first E3 livestream on Monday. You can watch it via the company’s YouTube page.
Take-Two Interactive — TBD
The publisher behind Rockstar Games, 2K Games, and 2K Sports will reveal some new titles as part of its E3 showcase, which will be shown via the official E3 2021 portal.
Capcom — TBD
Capcom will also hold a showcase of upcoming games, and it will be livestreamed via the E3 2021 portal.
Tuesday, June 15
Nintendo Direct and Nintendo Treehouse — 9AM PT (12PM ET)
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
Here’s another major showcase coming on the last day of E3 2021. Nintendo has already said it plans to show off some games for its Nintendo Switch console during the livestream but there are persistent rumors that it could also reveal a “Switch Pro” console as well. You can catch this presentation on the company’s YouTube channel.
Bandai Namco — TBD
Another Japanese publisher will show off some upcoming games on the final day of E3, as part of the Expo’s official portal.
Official E3 Awards — TBD
The ESA will hold the first official E3 awards this year as the last event of the Expo. We will have more info on these awards as they are announced.
E3 2021 Wishlist and predictions
We think, and in some cases, hope against hope, that some of these games and news announcements will be revealed at E3 2021:
1. Breath of the Wild sequel
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly two years since Nintendo announced the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild back at E3 2019 (trailer above). Since then, it’s largely been radio silence.
Still, it’s probably the most anticipated upcoming Nintendo Switch game there is at the moment, and what better time to announce an official release date than E3 2021?
The game was alluded to at the February 2021 Nintendo Direct, but the most offered up was the statement, “development is proceeding smoothly and we should be able to bring you some information this year.”
Hopefully, that means the long wait is nearly over. Even if it’s just another trailer with a 2022 release date, any news would be good news for Zelda fans.
2. Nintendo Switch Pro
Breath of the Wild was Nintendo’s killer launch title for the Nintendo Switch, so in a way, it makes sense that the sequel would launch alongside some new hardware.
This “Nintendo Switch Pro” or “Super Nintendo Switch” or whatever we want to call it has long been rumored, but if those rumors are correct, it’s drawing close to a release date. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see a 2021 release date, but hopefully Nintendo will at least acknowledge its existence.
There’s plenty of room for improvement over the original Switch. Even minor things like Bluetooth audio support and improved Joy-cons would be nice, although obviously, we’re hoping for some suped-up internals or even new 4K-ready hardware in the dock.
3. Metroid Prime 4
Before we move on from Nintendo there’s one more major title that we’re hoping to see at E3 2021, and that’s Metroid Prime 4. While the game was first announced at E3 2017, development essentially restarted from scratch in early 2019 when Nintendo decided it didn’t meet their internal standards.
That was more than two years ago now, so it’s about time the world gets a taste of what the revamped sequel entails. Even if it’s just a trailer, it would be great news for fans of Metroid Prime, who haven’t had a new game in the series since 2007. That’s two whole consoles ago, for those keeping score.
4. Halo Infinite
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Of all the items on our E3 wishlist, this is the only one that’s all but guaranteed. Halo Infinite was set to be the cornerstone title of the Xbox Series X launch last year, but delays due to the pandemic put those plans on hold.
The initial reveal was reportedly set to take place at E3 2020, but after the event’s cancelation, it was instead announced via livestream. At the time, the gameplay trailer was largely panned, but hopefully a little more time in the oven has helped smooth out the edges to avoid another catastrophic release like Cyberpunk 2077.
E3 2021 would be the perfect time to reveal more about the game and set a firm launch date for later in 2021. If it lands sometime around holiday 2021, it would easily be one of the biggest releases of the year.
5. Psychonauts 2
Although it’s not at the same level as Halo, one relatively minor title we’re hoping to see at E3 2021 is Psychonauts 2. The mind-bending platformer was partially crowdfunded back in 2016, and we got our first look at the game back in 2018 (trailer above).
Since then, its developer Double Fine has been acquired by Microsoft and Xbox Game Studios. This (and other factors) meant the game was delayed to 2021, with the addition of an enhanced Xbox Series X edition. Thankfully, it won’t be an Xbox exclusive and will still come out on other platforms. We expect to learn more about the game and see a final release date at E3 2021.
For RPG fans, one of the most exciting upcoming games is Bethesda’s Starfield. It’s the studio’s first new IP in over 25 years, and it looks to provide a gritty sci-fi experience that’s unique from Mass Effect and other sci-fi RPGs.
That said, we don’t know much. The trailer above doesn’t show much at all, but with the game in development for over a decade, we should see something at E3 2021. Bethesda was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year, but that shouldn’t change much for Starfield. At the most, it means it will be included in Xbox Game Pass on day one.
7. Elder Scrolls 6
In November it will be a full decade since the release of Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, so it’s high time Bethesda gave us at least a peek at what the next game in the series will have in store. We’re not asking for a release date, but at least a trailer would be nice. Even some news on the setting or a subtitle. Literally anything, please.
All we know so far is that the game is in development, as it was confirmed at E3 2018 (trailer above). Bethesda has since been acquired by Microsoft, which could mean that it’s now an Xbox exclusive, at least for consoles. With Starfield (hopefully) coming out in 2021/early 2022, that should at the very least free up some development bandwidth for Elder Scrolls 6.
8. Elden Ring
Elden Ring is yet another game that has been announced at a past E3 only to be followed by radio silence for years. In this case, it was announced back in 2019, and it has some serious pedigree behind it. The game is being directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki of the Souls series, with worldbuilding by George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones books.
That alone is enough to get fans hyped. It was voted the most anticipated game at last year’s Game Awards, despite no further trailers dropping in 2020. Like other FromSoftware games such as the Dark Souls series, Bloodborne, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, it should provide challenging RPG gameplay, but this time with a fully open world to explore.
9. Grand Theft Auto 5/6
Rockstar Games has been milking GTA 5 for nearly eight years now, and its popularity doesn’t seem to be dying down. We already know that a next-gen version is coming later this year, so a new trailer and release date are all but guaranteed for E3 2021.
However, what we’d really like to hear is some news on GTA 6. We don’t expect the game to come out for at least a few more years, but a reveal trailer for a truly next-gen GTA would be one of the most significant announcements of the year.
10. Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2
E3 2021 just so happens to be close to the June 10 release of the suped-up PS5 version of the Square Enix FF7 remake, titled Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.
As such, we’re hoping to hear some news about the next installment. We know that part two has been in development since 2019, but don’t expect to hear any concrete release details. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a trailer at best, with a 2022 (or even 2023) release date.