If you haven't been living under a rock recently, then you'll have heard about the pandemic of Coronavirus, now referred to as Covid-19.
With all panic buying of toilet roll and hand sanitiser aside, there's something rather serious here, which has led to the cancellation of major events such as E3 to stop person-to-person contact in a bid to limit the spread of the virus. With E3, as one of the world's biggest and best-known gaming trade shows being cancelled, it admittedly does beg a lot of questions, but could this virus outbreak signal the beginning of the end for such large conferences?
As someone who's always been fascinated with the world of gaming, to see E3 cancelled means that people are now unlikely to see some of their favourite titles announced at their usual times, and could mean more delays to popular franchises. This year was going to be a stellar year for consoles, with the hotly-anticipated release of Microsoft's Xbox Series X console expected at E3, along with Sony's Playstation 5 at a separate event. In Sony's case, this would have marked their second year away from the Los Angeles based event, in favour of their own announcements and conventions.
With the departure of marquee developers such as EA and Sony to create their own conferences, it does have the potential to mean that E3 could be going down the pan sooner rather than later. Even with allowing the general public in over the last few years, it would appear that popularity is waning. Moreover, with Microsoft now announcing their Xbox Series X online due to E3's cancellation, this could signal the demise of the physical conference. According to a multitude of journalists, in this rapidly-changing world of gaming and its associated technology, it has ultimately become harder for E3 to stay relevant. With the rise of standalone developer conferences, it doesn't look like the world's biggest gaming show may last for too much longer.
In addition, it's argued that Microsoft will be hit hardest by E3's cancellation. As always, they go big when it comes to E3 conferences, as has been shown in recent years, and with hopes of that big moment slashed, Phil Spencer's announcement of a digital launch may just be the way forward. A livestream on its own gives a chance for Microsoft to draw in the biggest crowds who won't otherwise be occupied with other developers, although there may come a problem with website stability if millions tune in online. However, in a similar vein to the new Playstation 5, the time frame for hearing about third-party titles for the Series X may be greatly impacted, especially if developers choose to opt-out of this online E3 experience. This won't madly result in game delays, but it might mean the notifications of such releases may not be as prominent or frequent.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here however. Whilst E3 isn't going ahead this year, it doesn't mean that announcements from major developers cannot occur. The ESA, ever since E3's cancellation was announced, have looked into alternative announcement options, most of which appear to be online. Therefore, it means that there's probably going to be the same news and announcements just without the spectacle of an E3 conference, which isn't a problem, but it may mean the occasion won't be so memorable.