Life on Repeat
In what feels like an echo of last March, a number of major fan conventions have either cancelled their live event or pushed it back to a latter date in 2021. Even though the number of people vaccinated is rising and local governments are starting to roll back on restrictions, many event organizers feel it’s best to hold off on hosting major live events.
E3 2021 was the first event to be cancelled according to a report published by the Board of Los Angeles Convention and Tourism Development Commission (first reported by VGC). The same report also stated that there are plans to host a digital event that will be broadcasted at LA Live (located adjacent to the Staples Center and Los Angeles Convention Center). It should be noted that the Entertainment Software Association has not made any official announcement regarding E3 2021.
Around the same time, Georgia convention MomoCon announced that they have cancelled their Spring/Summer 2021 event. Guests who had purchased a 2021 pass or still had a 2020 pass will have it rolled over for the 2022 event. There are no plans for an all digital event, they are working to organize a live event in December.
Then on March 1st, San Diego Comic Con became the next major convention to announce that they are going all digital for 2021. With concerns over the pandemic, the event will once again be all digital. There is hope for a live event as Comic-Con International plans to host a live three-day event in San Diego sometime in late 2021.
Even thought the same report by the LA Tourism Development Commission also listed Anime Expo as a cancelled event, an official announcement was made on March 3rd. It confirmed that the 2021 event will also be all digital while all passes and vendor tables will either be refunded or rolled over for 2022. Details about the all digital event will be made available in the coming months.
While news of these cancellations have been welcomed by their respected communities, switching to all digital event has been meet with mix reactions. Some have welcomed the digital events as an alternative way to still experience panels, reveals, and other staples of convention programming, while others feel it lacks the communal feeling of a live, in person event. While live events will make a return sometime in late 2021 or early 2022, it’s to be seen how digital events will be incorporated in future events.
These announcements only come a few weeks after both FanimeCon and the Game Developers Conference announced a switched to a digital event for 2021. Anime Central also announced that their live event is cancelled but are not planning any digital event. Some conventions like BayCon and SakuraCon have already cancelled any 2021 plans in favor of 2022. Others like Too Many Games, Emerald City Comic Con, and C2E2 have pushed their live event all the way to the end of 2021, where it seems more likely that it will be safe and sensible for people to be gathering in such large groups.
Many events have yet to announce a cancellation but that could change in the coming weeks and months. Those that hosted an all digital event in 2020 will be ready once again in 2021. Other event organizers will have to either cancel another event or embrace an all digital setting to keep the community together. Hopefully though, it will become safe to attend these events soon.