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Microsoft switching to digital events until at least July 2021

Microsoft is making sweeping changes to how it organizes events for the foreseeable future in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of its conferences and gatherings are going digital until July 2021, and that means significant changes for the Xbox-maker’s calendar.

According to an email regarding Microsoft’s MVP Summit event, Microsoft’s change include canceling that event, which was to take place in late March of next year, according to an email sent to Microsoft MVP and Carolina Software Inc. President Ginny Caughey. The company says that it will “continue to evaluate the situation and looks forward to connecting in person when the situation allows.”

It's official: All Microsoft conferences will be digital-only through July 2021.

— Ginny Caughey (@gcaughey) April 6, 2020

With E3 2021 set to take place from June 15 to 17, the company’s participation is in doubt. It’s not ruled out yet, Microsoft clarified to Eurogamer that this ruling only applies to events it is organizing itself and that appearances at trade shows could still happen. This would include not only E3 2021 but also Gamescom 2020 in August if the company deems it safe.

“In light of the challenges presented by COVID-19 (commnly known as coronavirus), we are adjusting our event calendar and strategy,” an unnamed Microsoft spokesperson told Eurogamer. “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.”

While a potential E3 2021 appearance is possible for Microsoft, there won’t be any in-person conferences to show off the upcoming Xbox Series X console, which will release this holiday season. Microsoft’s yearly XO fan event, an annual affair since 2018, is also off. Instead, fans can expect more online streams from the company, such as Inside Xbox.

Last month, the Entertainment Software Association canceled E3 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. This shook up Microsoft’s plans for its annual press conference and demos for its upcoming games. After teasing a substantial E3 presentation for months, Xbox Head Phil Spencer announced the company would hold a digital Xbox event instead. Microsoft has yet to announce a date for the showcase.

“The health and safety of employees, fans, and our partners around the world is a top priority,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Digital Trends upon the E3 cancellation. “We support the ESA in its decision to cancel E3 following increased public concerns with the COVID-19 virus. E3 has always been an important moment for us to show what’s ahead from Team Xbox. This year, we’ll celebrate the next generation of gaming with the Xbox community and all who love to play around the world via a digital event. We will share details on timing and more in the coming weeks.”

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