E3 2021 will officially be a digital event, and what’s more, it’ll be free to attend.
The announcement comes from the official E3 Twitter page, which was posted in response to the sharing of an article from Video Games Chronicle that mentioned the event as having certain paywall elements. “E3’s 2021 digital show is a free event for all attendees. We’re excited to fill you in on all the real news for the event very soon,” said the tweet.
Video Games Chronicle has since updated its article with a statement by ESA that confirmed the lack of paywalled or paid pass content at E3 2021. However, the article also stated that sources had revealed that the organizer had “pitched plans to charge a fee for some of 2021’s planned content, such as on-demand game demos or a ‘premium’ package with extra access”, so it looks like the event’s fully free status wasn’t set in stone from the beginning.
“One source suggested that the premium package had been pitched to publishers at $35,” VGC reported. VGC added that it was told of discussions regarding a paid access pass that would have bundled “some parts of its [the ESA’s] consumer offering”.
VGC also wrote that an earlier statement from ESA that was sent to the website said that the organizer would “deliver a free experience for everyone interested in E3 2021” but didn’t specifically mention the absence of paywalled elements. It also turns out that “one major games company” had criticized the paywall plans and “suggested that the ESA had indicated it was willing to back down on the proposal”.
VGC had previously reported on E3’s potential move to an online format in February. In that article, it wrote that a livestream format with two-hour keynotes, “smaller” streams, and an awards show had been proposed along with a preview night and media previews to serve as a lead up to the event.