UPDATE (Thursday, April 1st, 2021 at 2:02 p.m. PT): The ESA has issued a statement in response to VGC’s initial reporting about a possible paywall for the event.
“I can confirm on behalf of the ESA that there will be no elements at E3 2021 that will be behind a paid-for pass or paywall,” a spokesperson told VGC.
Video Games Chronicles (VGC) published a brand new report about how E3 2021 and its digital event is shaping up for this June. Thanks to their sources, portions of ESA’s pitch for this year’s event have been shared as well as some details about the possibility of a “paid access pass” and wanting to partner with Nvidia “to power the demos using its GeForce Now platform[.]”
First, here’s a portion of the revealed pitch that has been sent to publishers:
- “E3 has always served as the gaming industry’s uniting force, a moment each year where the best and brightest gather to release the latest announcements and game demos in support of not only their individual objectives, but to evangelize the entire industry[.]
- “In 2021, E3 is much more…. Welcome to the Electronic Entertainment EXPERIENCE. International, Inclusive. Innovative, Irresistible and ‘in your hands’ wherever you live.
- “E3 2021 is NOT an in-person event turned virtual[.]
- “E3 2021 is a vanguard and culturally significant digital tent-pole for all corners of the industry and its consumers, from mobile and PC gaming to eSports to watershed console and AAA debuts, all of which will generate massive mainstream attention, offer unprecedented secure game demos while accelerating your B2B, B2M and B2C objectives.”
Current plans for the show are to “hold multiple keynote sessions from games partners, broadcast from an LED-clad live stage built in Los Angeles, as well as an awards show, preview night and the ability for companies to schedule meetings with media and business users via the app.” Virtual booths, merchandise stores, and demos are also mentioned in these plans. The idea of virtual booths and merchandise stores isn’t anything new for any digital event, as they have been the staple for many that switched to online-only last year. It’s the handling of game demos (distribution) that’s interesting. According to VGC’s article, “ESA wants to partner with Nvidia to power the demos using its GeForce Now platform, VGC understands, and allow E3 exhibitors to make their playable experiences available either to the general public, or privately to press and business people via its app.”
Lastly, and this is the big one that has caused some to cry that this is one big April Fools’ joke (it isn’t), is that The ESA “has discussed bundling some parts of its consumer offering as part of a paid access pass, which could be for the on-demand game demos or a ‘premium’ package with extra access.”
Andy Robinson, VGC’s Editor-in-Chief, also shared more details about this possibility on Twitter. While not specified in his article, he reveals the magical price point that ESA has thought about charging – $35.
One source told me that, at one point, The ESA was considering charging consumers $35 for 'premium' access.
However, the organisation has told at least one publisher I spoke to that it's willing to scrap the proposal, following negative feedback.
— Andy Robinson (@AndyPlaytonic) April 1, 2021
This isn’t set in stone as these plans still need to be approved by members of The ESA, so we could easily see the “paid access pass” not make it into E3 2021. Hopefully, we’ll see proper announcements of E3’s digital event in the coming weeks as it will be Sunday, June 13th before we know it.
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