E3 2020 Cancelled: What would an online expo look like?

E3 2020, this year's edition of the iconic gaming expo, is one of many events to be cancelled because of COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus). And since E3 traditionally consists of thousands of gamers passing through confined areas and sharing controllers as they try out demos, it's easy to see why the event's organisers (the ESA) have decided not to go ahead with the event this year.

The announcement of the E3 2020 cancellation did include an interesting detail, though. Apparently the team at the ESA is "exploring options with [its] members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020."

What might this online experience look like, though? And how might it revolutionise the way that the gaming industry does expos? Stealth Optional had a think about how the ESA could manage this situation and find a silver lining for people that were looking forward to this year's E3.

Embrace the Direct-style video

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Nintendo has already made a habit of releasing its major news online rather than releasing it at expos. The 'Nintendo Direct' series of live streams has become legendary among gamers, with online communities eagerly awaiting each new Direct and endlessly speculating about what the next one could entail. 

Other companies have already tried to replicate Nintendo's success, with Sony running its own PlayStation-themed 'State Of Play' streams and Microsoft having ‘Inside Xbox’. If this year's equivalent of E3 is going to be an online-only experience, it could be a great opportunity for more companies to embrace Direct-style videos that announce new projects online and share news directly with fans. 

Could we potentially see one massive live-stream where E3 brings together Direct-like videos from numerous developers? That would be cool, and it seems plausible considering that Xbox and Ubisoft have already said they’re working on E3-replacing videos.

Put the demos online

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It seems fair to assume that loads of different developers have been building demos to showcase upcoming games at E3 2020. And now that the event isn't happening, what would be the harm in putting these demos online?

The recent demos of Resident Evil 2 Remake and Final Fantasy VII Remake have already proven that there is still an appetite among gamers to try out new titles ahead of launch (as if that needed proving), and surely a whole week of downloadable demos would go down a treat.

Perhaps the ESA could talk to the teams at PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo and Steam about hosting a special 'E3 week' event on their digital storefronts where gamers can download demos and try them out. This could help to generate hype for a lot of upcoming titles, and it would give gamers that are self-isolating some extra things to enjoy.

Go full 'Wreck-It Ralph'

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If hosting a live-stream that curates Direct-style videos and bringing together heaps of playable demos isn't enough, perhaps the ESA could create a fully digital expo that fans can log into online - through their consoles, perhaps? Imagine how cool it could be to traverse through a digital world, like a scene from Wreck-It Ralph or Ready Player One, popping into panel discussions and watching any announcements that tickle your fancy.

The fact that players will show up to digital events has been proven again and again, with Fortnite's steady stream of timed content being a prime example: the iconic battle royale game even hosted a reveal event for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker last year, playing on the iconography of sci-fi cinema and drawing players together to witness a sneak peek of the film. 

Admittedly, throwing together a digital expo and distributing it to gamers may well be too large of a task for ESA to achieve between now and June (when E3 had been scheduled to take place). But still, it seems inevitable that players would welcome Direct-style videos and downloadable demos in place of the traditional expo. And if this online equivalent to E3 turned out to be a success, perhaps it could become a regular thing - since so much content from E3 always ends up online anyway, why not cut out the middle man and put it all straight into the digital realm? It could be revolutionary. 

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