E3 Formally Canceled Due to Coronavirus

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The E3 game show — formally expected to be held from June 9-11, 2020 — has been canceled. The show drew some 66,000 thousand people to LA last year, including yours truly, but the show’s future had been on the chopping block since prominent sponsors started pulling out.

The announcement is at least well-timed, given that the WHO has now awarded pandemic status to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the illness known as Covid-19. According to StatMeds, there are basically two paths the virus could take.

First, the virus could become more-or-less permanently resident in human populations, with outbreaks occurring throughout the entire year. There are already four known coronavirus infections endemic to human populations. They already cause an estimated 25 percent of all colds. In this scenario, SARS-CoV-2 becomes the fifth known endemic coronavirus. More people die each year from respiratory illness as a result and the virus would probably take 1-2 years to “settle down” as a regular infection.

Second, the virus could become a seasonal affliction. The reason influenza has a winter-spring season is because it doesn’t tolerate heat and humidity well. We don’t know whether Covid-19’s spread is particularly stymied by summer weather. If it is, hotter weather could bring relief but the virus could re-emerge in the October-November time frame. If it manages to establish itself across much of the globe, there’s a high chance of at least a few reservoirs of infection surviving long enough to reinfect people. This depends on how many people the virus infects and how virulent it is. The best-case timeline for a vaccine or treatment is thought to be roughly a year.

Will Covid-19 Kill E3?

Frankly, E3 itself might be a victim of Covid-19. The show has been shrinking for years, and prominent gaming journalist Geoff Keighley announced he wouldn’t be producing E3 Coliseum, after launching the project in 2019. Sony had pulled out of the trade show last year and this year — but of course, this year is a bigger deal, given that the PlayStation 5 ought to be ramping its news cycle by then.

The E3 organizers say in their official statement that “Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds.” They’re also looking for ways to hold a virtual event during the month of June that would showcase games and industry announcements.

The question of whether Covid-19 is going to have an economic impact on the United States is no longer an “if.” At this point, it’s a question of “when?” and “how much?”

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Feature image by Sergey Galyonkin, CC BY-SA 2.0

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