E3 2021: everything you need to know about this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo

E3 2021 is going ahead, but it's going to look a little different than in previous years. The gaming conference will be online-only, running from June 12 to June 15, and promises that developers will be “showcasing their latest news and games directly to fans around the world”, and despite initial speculation, E3 will be “available to everyone for free”

Following the cancelation of E3 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it remained unclear whether E3 2021 would still go ahead in some form. A digital event was to go ahead in 2020 but, due to a lack of support, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) decided to scrap the event altogether – with Geoff Keighley's Summer Games Fest taking center stage for gaming announcements instead.

But this year looks to be different and a handful of publishers have already confirmed they'll be attending E3 2021, including Xbox and Nintendo. But, there are also some notable absences too. Read on for everything we know so far about E3 2021.

Update: Square Enix has confirmeded it's part of the E3 2021 lineup. Read on to find out more.

E3 2021 schedule

Below, we've rounded up all the confirmed dates and time for E3 2021's conferences. We will continue to update this article as more conference details are confirmed.

Ubisoft Forward - June 12  

E3 2021

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft has confirmed it is hosting its next Ubisoft Forward conference as part of E3 2021. The digital conference is set to take place on June 12 at 12pm PT / 8pm BST / 3pm ET (or June 13 at 5am AEST).

What is E3 2021?

E3 2021

(Image credit: ESA)

he E3 name stands for ‘Electronic Entertainment Expo’, and it’s been running in some form since 1995. Hosted by the Entertainment Software Association, E3 is a three-day convention to celebrate and showcase all things gaming, usually to publicize upcoming games and consoles – with a smattering of panel discussions and keynotes alongside the excitement of the show floor.

E3 2021 will be the 26th time the event is held, with the ESA cancelling E3 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But this year, rather than being held as an in-person event at the Los Angeles (its home since 2009), E3 2021 is an entirely digital event. 

When is E3 2021 and how much will it cost?

E3

(Image credit: logoboom/Shutterstock)

E3 2021 will take the form of an all-digital event that will run from June 12 to June 15, 2021. The ESA has confirmed that the event will consist of live press conferences and a four-day-long video stream. Digital attendees will also be able to keep track of everything that's going on through the E3 app.

Despite speculation that parts of the event would be behind a paywall, the ESA has confirmed that E3 2021 will be entirely free for attendees. 

Who is attending E3 2021?

E3 2021

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox, Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two, Warner Bros., Koch Media and Square Enix are all confirmed to be making an appearance at E3 this year, however, Sony is noticeably absent from the ESA's list of early commitments, alongside EA, Activision Blizzard, Sega and Bandai Namco.

It’s an impressive show of support for E3 2021, with many speculating that the online-only event would be largely ignored by the biggest companies in the industry. Having Xbox and Nintendo in attendance is a boon to the ESA, whose event was seen by many as 'the Christmas of gaming announcements' has diminished in recent years.

In a press release, ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said: "For more than two decades, E3 has been the premier venue to showcase the best that the video game industry has to offer, while uniting the world through games. We are evolving this year's E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games."

Sony's absence at E3 2021

PlayStation

(Image credit: Sony)

When the ESA first announced its list of early commitments, Sony was notably absent. After TechRadar contacted the organizer for confirmation on Sony's absence, the ESA released the following statement to us:

“While, much like previous years, Sony does not plan to participate in E3, we continue to focus on delivering the leading and reimagined showcase for video game news, announcements, reveals, networking and interactivity that has made E3 a beloved experience for decades.”

This isn’t the first time Sony has ditched E3: the company again opted out of last year’s event (before its cancellation) in favor of its own State of Play and PS5 events, which closely mimic Nintendo’s successful Nintendo Direct presentation style. Sony also skipped E3 2019 entirely.

So what does Sony’s likely E3 absence mean for PS5? Well, we’ll still see new PS5 games from other publishers at the show, such as Ubisoft and Capcom, but it means the first-party exclusives that so many PlayStation fans are craving information about won’t be present.

It’s likely that Sony will host its own E3-styled event, where it can control the messaging, format and news cadence without the type of investment needed to be present at E3. However, it could also choose not to share anything at this time like last year, which would give Microsoft and Nintendo a week of almost unrivaled attention for Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch announcements.

We’ve seen that a number of publishers, including EA, transition into hosting their own tailored events. Again, we wouldn’t be surprised if these publishers still have plans to deliver a smorgasbord of gaming news during June, but ultimately we’ll have to wait and see whether they save the juiciest reveals for E3 itself.

It’s a shame that Sony likely won’t be present at E3 as it’s always been a celebration of major announcements and exclusive reveals, and with the platform holder not being involved directly, it dilutes the sense of occasion slightly. It also means that we’re left to speculate when Sony might reveal more information on its upcoming games like God of War: RagnarokGran Turismo 7 and Horizon: Forbidden West.

E3 2021: what we want to see

E3

(Image credit: ESA)

Xbox, Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two, Warner Bros., Square Enix and Koch Media are all confirmed to be making an appearance at E3 this year, however, Sony is noticeably absent from the ESA's list of early commitments, alongside EA, Activision Blizzard, Sega, Bandai Namco and Square Enix.

We're hoping that E3 2021 will see Microsoft giving us a solid release date for Halo Infinite as well as officially announcing a new Forza Horizon game is in the works. We're also hoping to hear more about Fable, which was confirmed to be in the works last year. 

We're also hoping Bethesda will give us more details on Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, and set the record straight about whether both games will be Xbox platform exclusives.

We're hoping Nintendo will use E3 to give us a release date (and more details) on Breath of the Wild 2, gameplay footage of Splatoon 3 and maybe a closer look at the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes and Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

We still don't know about Capcom's sci-fi adventure Pragmata, which was announced last year, so we're hoping for a better look at it at E3 2021. It's also possible we may see Konami announce the long-rumored Silent Hill games it's allegedly been working.

Ubisoft will likely give us a new release date for Far Cry 6, plus a closer look at Rainbow Six Parasite, as well as an update on a few of the games we haven't heard much on since their announcement: Skull & Bones and Beyond Good and Evil 2

While we're not necessarily expecting Take-Two to announce GTA 6 (though, who knows), it's more like we'll get a firm release date for GTA 5 on PS5 and Xbox Series X and news about upcoming GTA Online updates. It's likely we'll also hear more on NBA 2K22. What we're really hoping for is for more news on BioShock 4 - and maybe even a look at it.

Warners Bros will hopefully give us a new trailer or gameplay walkthrough for both Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League and Gotham Knights, plus further details on Hogwarts Legacy - maybe even a solid release date?

We're expecting Square Enix to share more detail on confirmed upcoming games, including Final Fantasy 16Forspoken and Life is Strange: True Colors. We're also likely to see more footage from Neo: The World Ends with You on Switch, Project Triangle Strategy (which is a working title for a Switch RPG), and Marvel's Avengers Black Panther expansion. With the 25th anniversary of Tomb Raider right around the corner, too, there will likely be some Lara Croft-theme news during the conference as well. If we’re really lucky, we might even get a preview of Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2.

Finally, we're not quite sure what to expect from Koch Media - which means the parent company of the likes of Deep Silver, Saber Interactive and Focus could have some surprises up its sleeve.

E3 2021 vs Summer Games Fest

Summer Game fest

(Image credit: Summer Game Fest)

Summer Game Fest was set up by The Game Awards host Geoff Keighley and made its debut in 2020 – filling in the gap left by E3 2020. Last year's Summer Game Fest was an online season of events bringing together 16 of the industry’s largest publishers, including Microsoft, Sony, Activision, Valve, Bethesda and Blizzard in a four-month cavalcade of news, trailers and game demos.

From May until August, the Summer Game Fest partnered with these publishers to release updates on game projects and announce new titles across social media platforms, as well as providing playable demos for attendees – Microsoft shared a staggering “between 75 and 100” game demos in total. 

This year's Summer Game Fest will apparently be more "condensed", according to Keighley. While we don't know the exact dates for Summer Game Fest, we do know it will also be taking place in July. It's unclear how long this year's Summer Game Fest will last.

This will be the first year we see E3 and Summer Game Fest taking place in the same timeframe, so it will be interesting to see which publishers and developers choose to showcase at E3 and which choose to do so at Summer Game Fest. It's like others, probably Sony, will choose to host an independent conference instead.

E3 2021: what happened at E3 2019

E3 2021

(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Given that E3 2020 was canceled, the last E3 to take place was E3 2019. Even without Sony on show, there was still plenty to make 2019 a great year for E3. We had that wonderful Keanu Reeves appearance, and the news he was appearing in Cyberpunk 2077 (as seen above), new specs for the Xbox Series X, and that brilliant BOTW 2 teaser. We also got a full unveiling of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and updates on Apex Legends Season 2 from EA, and the announcement that Dark Souls dev From Software and Game of Throne's George R R Martin were collaborating on the upcoming game Elden Ring.

Square Enix had one of the better press events we've yet to see at E3 2019, packing in tons of new information on Marvel's AvengersFinal Fantasy VII Remake and the remastered version of Final Fantasy 8.

It wasn't all good news, though, with Animal Crossing: Horizons getting delayed, and the long-awaited Dragon Age 4 not getting so much as a mention. Ubisoft also didn't show off a new Splinter Cell game (cowards!) or its much-delayed Beyond Good and Evil 2 – though it did find time for Just Dance 2020, and the announcement trailer for Gods and Monsters.

Here's a full list of everything that was announced at E3 2019:

Nintendo

Microsoft

  • Halo Infinite (release window, coming to Xbox Project Scarlett)
  • Gears 5
  • Blair Witch
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Xbox One and PC)
  • Bleeding Edge
  • Battletoads
  • Age of Empire II: Definitive Edition (PC)
  • Wasteland 3
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC first, Xbox One later)
  • Minecraft Dungeons
  • Spiritfarer (coming to Xbox Game Pass)
  • 12 Minutes (Xbox One and PC)
  • Forza Horizon 4: Lego Speed Champions Expansion
  • Crossfire X
  • Gears Pop!

Take-Two Interactive/2K Games

Electronic Arts and EA Sports

CD Projekt Red

Konami

  • Contra Rogue Corps (Xbox One PS4, PC and Switch)
  • Contra Anniversary Collection

Bethesda

  • Deathloop (Platforms unknown) (Trailer)
  • Doom Eternal (Xbox One PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch)
  • The Elder Scrolls: Blades (debuting on Nintendo Switch; iOS, Android updates)
  • Fallout 76: Nuclear Winter (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC sneak peek)
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo (Platforms unknown)
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PS4, Xbox One and PC)
  • Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (VR)
  • Commander Keen (iOS and Android)

Square Enix

  • Final Fantasy 7 Remake (PS4)
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (PS4, Nintendo Switch and mobile)
  • Final Fantasy 8 Remastered
  • Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers (PC)
  • Circuit Superstars (Square Enix Collective, developer Original Fire)
  • War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
  • Romancing Saga 3
  • Scarlett Grace
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • The Last Remnant Remastered (coming to Nintendo Switch)
  • Trials of Mana: Collection of Mana (coming to Switch)

Ubisoft

  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
  • The Division 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
  • For Honor (Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC)
  • Watch Dogs Legion (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Stadia) (game play available)
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (game update)
  • Roller Champions (PC download available now, other platforms unknown)
  • Gods & Monsters (Xbox One,PlayStation 4, PC, Stadia and Switch)

Sega

  • Panzer Dragoon: Remake (Nintendo Switch)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (Xbox One)
  • SEGA Genesis mini console coming September 2019 with mini games like Mega Man:The Wily Wars, Earthworm Jim, Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2, Ecco the Dolphin and 35 more classic games.

Bandai Namco

  • Tales of Arise
  • Dragonball Z: Kakarot
  • Code Vein
  • The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
  • RAD

Various

  • Elden Ring (via FromSoftware)
  • Dying Light 2 (from Techland)
  • Way to the Woods (Team 17)
  • Dauntless (coming to Nintendo Switch via Phoenix Labs)
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics (En Masse Entertainment)
  • Dead by Daylight (coming to Nintendo Switch via Koch Media)
  • New Super Lucky’s Tale (coming to Nintendo Switch via Playful Corp.)
  • Empire of Sin (John Romero multi-console game)
  • Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (Playtonic)
  • Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin (via Edelweiss and XSEED Games)

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