Microsoft Conferences to Go Digital-Only, Possibly Until July 2021

Microsoft’s forthcoming conferences could be digital-only until July 2021 – but Xbox PR says that it’s going to experiment with digital formats for the remainder of 2020. It’s led to questions about potential attendance at Gamescom, a future E3 event, and the likes of an Xbox Series X launch event.The news began with a tweet from Ginny Caughey, which includes a portion of an email to attendees of the Microsoft MVP Summit:

“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 strategy,” the statement reads. “As a company, Microsoft has made the decision to transition all external and internal events to a digital-first experience through July 2021. We will continue to evaluate the situation and look forward to connecting in person when the situation allows.”IGN reached out to Xbox PR for official comment and received the following from a Microsoft spokesperson:

“In light of challenges presented by Covid-19, we are adjusting our event calendar and strategy. For the remainder of 2020 we are embracing the opportunity to experiment with new platforms to provide our partners, customers and developers the highest quality, digital-first experiences.”

That response made clear to point out this strategy is scheduled for the rest of this year, but not necessarily beyond. Of course, as pointed out in the first statement, the situation is still under evaluation so things could change depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out.

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That timescale seems to rule out any in-person events surrounding the launch of Xbox Series X. It would also seem to rule out attendance at Gamescom 2020, or the ‘reimagined’ E3 2021 – however, a report from Eurogamer says it understands this policy applies only to Microsoft-organised events, and trade show attendance would be taken on a case-by-case basis.

Microsoft had already announced that it was moving forward with a digital-only format for its usual E3 conference in light of this year’s E3 being cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft isn’t the only company moving to a digital format in light of COVID-19 cancellations. Ubisoft announced that it will hold a digital conference in light of this year’s E3 being cancelled. IGN itself will also hold Summer of Gaming, a digital showcase for new announcements this June.

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Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer and guide maker for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes.




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