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E3 canceled amid coronavirus spread

The world's biggest gaming convention has been shelved for 2020. Microsoft and Ubisoft will showcase their games online instead.

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E3 has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

James Martin/CNET
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E3, the biggest gaming event of the year, has been canceled due to concerns about the expanding outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to a statement from the event organizers on March 11. The Entertainment Software Association, the group behind E3, initially said it would look into conducting an online showcase in place of E3 in June, but it has since canceled those plans as well.  

"After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry -- our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners -- we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles," the ESA said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the association said it is canceling plans for a digital-only event in June according to a report from IGN

"Given the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be presenting an online E3 2020 event in June," the ESA told IGN. "Instead, we will be working with exhibitors to promote and showcase individual company announcements, including on www.E3expo.com, in the coming months. We look forward to bringing our industry and community together in 2021 to present a reimagined E3 that will highlight new offerings and thrill our audiences."

The ESA says there will be an E3 2021, according to CNET sister site GameSpot.

In response to the cancellation, Microsoft and Ubisoft said they would find alternatives to their live press conferences held in the run-up to E3. 

"Given this decision, this year we'll celebrate the next generation of gaming with the @Xbox community and all who love to play via an Xbox digital event," Xbox boss Phil Spencer tweeted on March 11. "Details on timing and more in the coming weeks."

On March 16, Microsoft revealed the specs for the Xbox Series X, expected later this year, along with details about its controller.

The news of the show's cancellation was reported by Ars Technica on March 10. Prior to the report, video game publisher Devolver Digital tweeted: "Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y'all." That stoked a strong suspicion that E3 would follow the likes of Mobile World Congress, the Game Developers Conference, SXSW and Facebook's in-person F8 conference getting canceled.

After previously saying it would go ahead with E3, the ESA on March 4 said it was "monitoring and evaluating the situation daily" after Los Angeles County and then the state of California declared a state of emergency.

Last year, more than 66,000 people attended E3.

Sony dropped out of E3 in January to give its upcoming PlayStation 5 the spotlight at another time and place. Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Sega, Capcom, Square Enix, Take-Two and Bandai Namco were among the companies that had been scheduled to participate. 

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