What form will the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) take later this year if it is due to land in Los Angeles from June 9? This question seems to be getting more complicated every month, starting with this week's surprising announcement that the show has just lost its latest creative directors.
iam8bit, a toy and event company that we wrote about at Ars in the past, announced on Thursday that it will no longer serve as the creative director of E3. The Twitter post cited "mixed emotions" and claimed that the company had planned "an evolutionary E3 2020 ground experience". After saying it was a dream to work on E3, the post ended with a wish to wish the organizers good luck.
Oddly enough, this resignation is the first one we've heard that iam8bit worked as "Creative Director" for E3. Just five weeks ago, the company's participation in E3 was vaguely announced by its showrunners at the Electronic Software Association (ESA). "We're working with industry insiders and new creative partners, including iam8bit's flavor makers, to revitalize the show and frankly shake things up," said ESA's statement on January 30.
Two weeks after the release of this statement, journalist and organizer Geoff Keighley announced that he would no longer organize the E3 Live component of the annual exhibition. He cited the E3-related announcement by ESA as one reason for his decision.
None of the biggest E3 news earlier this month was mentioned in ESA's January announcement: Sony's decision to skip E3 for the second time in a row. Instead, it emphasized "the many exhibitors who were committed to the fair" and later published a list of publishers with plans to participate in E3 2020 in February: Xbox, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Sega, Capcom, Square Enix, Take – Two, Bandai Namco and Warner Bros., "among others".
Following the postponement of the Game Developers Conference last week, many of these publishers have shown how quickly their support for a major event may dry up given public health issues such as the proliferation of COVID-19. (Before the GDC was officially canceled, many of its largest presentation publishers and studios had said goodbye to participating individually.) To this end, ESA made a statement on Wednesday this week that it "continued to be a safe and successful." E3 plans "while" setting up plans to follow WHO and CDC guidelines on the outbreak.
Neither ESA nor iam8bit replied to Ars Technica's questions about today's announcement at the time of printing.
Update, 7:48 p.m.: An ESA representative declined to answer Ars Technica's specific questions, particularly whether iam8bit actually had a proper role as "Creative Director" for E3. Instead, ESA provided the following statement:
We can confirm that iam8bit is no longer part of the interinstitutional group working on E3 2020. We greatly appreciate their passion for the video game industry and the contributions they have made to our vision for this year's show. We have an innovative and experienced team, including Endeavor's 160over90 creative agency, event innovators Mat + Lo and longtime E3 partners GES, Dolaher Events and Double Forte, all working together to create an exciting and authentic experience for fans and the media to bring to life and the industry.
When ESA pressed Mat + Lo, the only listed agency that we couldn't immediately identify, it passed on a link and described the company as "a hot new agency that was just launched".