E3 2021 to Include Nintendo, Xbox and More in Free Virtual Event

E3 2021 is going fully online.
E3 2021 is going fully online. / David McNew/Getty Images

E3 2021 will be fully virtual, the ESA announced Tuesday, and will bring together an impressive slate of games companies during its three-day run.

Taking place June 12 to June 15, the event will allow fans to view games news and showcases from Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games and Koch Media, with potentially more exhibitors still to be confirmed. There will also be four days of media access starting June 7 and leading up to the main event.

Nintendo's attendance is something of a surprise, as the company has moved away from big industry events in favor of hosting its own Nintendo Direct broadcasts. Other companies have begun to follow in its footsteps, forcing E3 to fight for its own relevance in a changing industry landscape. Sony and Activision are two notable absences from the list of exhibitors at the upcoming event.

E3 2021 to Include Nintendo, Xbox and More in Free Virtual Event

Previous reporting indicated the ESA had considered making part of its industry expo a paid experience, but the organization appears to have backed down from that plan, saying it will "be working with media partners globally to help amplify and make this content available to everyone for free."

The ESA's announcement did not address other aspects of last week's report, including an E3 app and a potential partnership with Nvidia to use its GeForce Now platform to make demos available using cloud gaming.

News of the potential E3 paywall rankled many gaming fans who had expected to be able to view the event for free. The ESA denied the use of a paywall the same day the report went live, but that fans turned on it so quickly speaks to the damage its reputation has undergone in recent years. In addition to big companies leaving the event behind, E3 leaked the personal information of hundreds of journalists in 2019, further undermining itself.