With Sony already an E3-nonpresence and Microsoft quickly announcing plans for a digital event in place of its usual press conference, attention turned toward Nintendo in the wake of the ESA's decision to cancel the 2020 expo. Nintendo has issued a new statement expressing the company's support for the decision to cancel E3 and assuring fans that it will pursue other ways to deliver news on its products.
"Nintendo supports the ESA's decision to cancel this year's E3 to help protect the health and safety of everyone in our industry—our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners," reads the statement given to GameSpot by a Nintendo spokesperson. "We would like to express our concern and support for all those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak during this challenging time."
Nintendo goes on to acknowledge that events beyond E3 2020, originally scheduled for June 9-11, may be impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak. "We'll continue to be flexible and redirect our efforts to other ways of keeping our fans up to date about our activities and products," the statement reads. "Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, large industry events may be untenable for the foreseeable future. But we are considering various ways to engage with our fans and will have more to share as the year continues."
Prior to E3's cancellation, it already looked like some of the largest reveals timed around the event would move to a digital event format, spurred in part by the popularity of Nintendo's Direct presentations. Sony, which has already started its own regular series of online presentations, announced it would sit out E3 for the second year in a row back in January. At the time, Sony said the ESA's "vision of E3 2020" was not the right venue for its areas of focus this year, which presumably includes the PlayStation 5.
Later that month, the ESA announced that it was planning to "shake things up" with E3's 2020 format, enlisting the help of production company iam8bit to put on an event focused more on "a large, super fun floor experience that celebrates gaming culture in exciting new ways." Last week, iam8bit announced it was resigning as E3 2020's creative director and declined to offer additional details on the decision.
In the statement, Nintendo's spokesperson does not specify whether there will still be a Direct presentation in June or the usual slate of Nintendo Treehouse gameplay streams. Meanwhile, Microsoft and Ubisoft are both looking into digital event formats to replace their E3 plans that could likely end up resembling Nintendo's streams, given the proven success of the formats.
Nintendo may have planned on using E3 2020 as an opportunity to show more info on the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which it announced at the end of last year's E3 Direct. The first installment of expansion pass DLC for Pokemon Sword and Shield is also scheduled to launch by the end of June 2020, and would likely have made an appearance at the expo.