Expect all events hosted by Microsoft to be “digital-first” until August 2021. The technology and gaming company has announced that due to the major disruptions posed by COVID-19, the company will be eschewing in-person gatherings for some time. The spread of COVID-19 poses significant risk across the globe, and could for some time. Some data suggests that it could become a new seasonal threat as herd immunity isn’t looking as likely. The reason for this comes amid fresh concerns over more patients testing positive after recovering from initial symptoms.
“In light of the challenges presented by COVID-19, Microsoft has been closely monitoring the developing global situation and re-assessing the overall company-wide in-person event strategy,” stated an internal email shared online. “As a company, Microsoft has made the decision to transition all external and internal events to a digital-first experience through July 2021.” The plan does impact some other events taking place in April, but future event plans have yet to be announced.
Microsoft originally planned to support their own version of an E3 press conference online after the ESA canceled the main event earlier in March. It’s currently unknown when such an event would take place.
And it’s not just Microsoft opting for such an approach, although it will certainly be a bumpy one. Bethesda and the ESA have both shut down plans for hosting their own digital events this year. And even though E3 will return in 2021, it’s looking very likely that the games industry will be very negatively impacted by the spread of the virus and its inevitable economic fallout.
It remains unclear which events will take on this new digital approach, nor is it clear how they will change in the fact of this growing fear.