E3 2019 Preview: What to Expect from Xbox, Nintendo and More
E3 2019 is right around the corner, and it could be one of the most interesting installments of gaming's biggest annual showcase yet. Sony won't be at E3 for the first time in the show's history, giving Microsoft the opportunity to dominate the convention like never before.
And with new PlayStation and Xbox consoles rumored for 2020, we could see some truly exciting surprises from major third-parties like Bethesda and Ubisoft for both the current and next generation. There's also Nintendo, which has the potential to steal the show by riding the Switch's currently red-hot momentum.
Here's everything we know about E3 2019, including every news conference, major exhibitor, what to expect from gaming's biggest players and how to watch the action from home.
Electronic Arts' EA Play event is back for its fourth year, but the company is skipping a traditional news conference in favor of a series of gameplay livestreams that start on June 7. We're not exactly sure what's on EA's E3 slate, but it seems safe to expect a deeper look at Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order as well as the debut of this year's Madden and FIFA games. And with Apex Legends currently dominating the battle royale scene, expect to see some new content for EA's wildly popular online shooter.
Livestream: June 7 (Friday) to June 8 (Saturday), time TBD
With Sony skipping E3 this year and a new generation of consoles on the horizon, this is arguably the most pivotal E3 yet for Microsoft. The Xbox maker made a huge splash at E3 2018, announcing a slew of major studio acquisitions and confirming that the next Xbox is in development.
Gears of War 5. Credit: Microsoft
Now, it’s time for the company to make good on those promises. What exciting new exclusives are in development from Xbox Game Studios? What should we expect from the next Xbox? And what are Microsoft's plans for its Project xCloud game-streaming service? It's pivotal that Microsoft answers these questions firmly if it wants to start the next console generation — and close out this one — with a bang.
"[Microsoft] just announced that all-digital Xbox One S so I doubt there will be much, if any, news about their next-gen console,” said Lewis Ward, research director for gaming and AR/VR at IDC. "I expect Microsoft to talk about their expanding Xbox Game Studios catalog, further convergence between Windows 10 gaming on PCs and on Xbox One consoles, growing Mixer popularity, and give us an xCloud update at a minimum."
In terms of safer predictions, you should expect Microsoft to provide a deeper dive on upcoming Xbox One games like Halo: Infinite, Gears of War 5 and Battletoads, as well as a glimpse of what newly acquired Xbox studios such as Ninja Theory and Obsidian Entertainment are up to.
News conference: June 9 (Sunday) @ 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET
Bethesda will once again have its usual Sunday night showcase at E3, and it could be a big one. Expect to see more of upcoming titles like Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Doom: Eternal, as well as possible updates for fans of ongoing multiplayer games such as The Elder Scrolls Online. (Also, for the three people still playing Fallout 76.)
The bigger question is whether we’ll see more of Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI –– two titles teased at E3 2018 that were specifically called out as being next-generation experiences. Considering that the PS5 and next Xbox might not be far away, this could be our first chance to see gameplay of Bethesda's long-awaited sci-fi RPG as well as the highly anticipated sequel to Skyrim.
News conference: June 9 (Sunday) @ 5:30 p.m. PT / 8:30 p.m. ET
PC Gaming Show
The PC Gaming Show returns for its fifth year at E3 2019, promising big new reveals of major PC games and hardware. The show will once again be hosted by esports personalities Sean "Day9" Plott and Frankie Ward, and promises more big reveals than any previous show. Perhaps most notably, this year's event is sponsored by Epic Games, who will showcase brand new titles coming to the Epic Games Store.
Between the rise of ray tracing and Nvidia's RTX cards and the new platform wars between the Epic Games Store and Steam, it's been quite a year for PC gaming — which should make for an interesting E3 show. Disclosure: The PC Gaming Show is run by Tom's Guide sister site PC Gamer.
News conference: June 10 (Monday) @ 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET
Ubisoft’s annual E3 showcases tend to be fun, wacky and offer a little bit of something for everyone, and we expect its 2019 news conference to be no different. But with no new Assassin's Creed game coming this year, there's a big question mark around what will be the French studio's big flagship E3 title.
We may finally see a Watch Dogs 3, or Ubisoft could give the fans what they truly want and unveil a new Splinter Cell game for the first time in six years. Considering that Beyond Good and Evil 2 made its grand re-introduction at E3 2018, we're hoping to hear more about the hotly anticipated action-adventure game. We also wouldn't be surprised to see another Ubisoft-Nintendo collaboration — hopefully in the form of a sequel to the surprisingly excellent Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.
You should also expect updates to multiplayer games such as The Division 2 and Rainbow Six: Siege. And because it's an Ubisoft show, look forward to a new Just Dance game being introduced in a ridiculously over-the-top fashion.
News conference: June 10 (Monday) @ 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET
Square Enix is back with another press conference for E3 2019. The Japanese publisher didn't tease any specific games in its announcement tweet, but this could be the year that we finally learn more about the Final Fantasy VII remake as well as the company's mysterious Avengers project. It's worth noting that Square is taking up the prime-time slot typically held by PlayStation every year, so here's hoping that they have more exciting news to share than it did last year.
News conference: June 10 (Monday) @ 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET
With hot titles like Super Mario Maker 2, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the way, the Switch is already poised to have a big 2019. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't expect some major surprises at E3.
You should expect to see more of upcoming Switch games such as Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion 3, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Pokemon Sword and Shield. New content for popular multiplayer games Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 also seems like a safe bet, considering that Nintendo has tournaments planned for both titles at E3. We probably won't see the recently rebooted Metroid Prime 4, but E3 would be a great time for Nintendo to finally show off Bayonetta 3, a hotly anticipated action title that was first teased in late 2017.
What you shouldn't expect is new Nintendo Switch hardware, including the long-rumored Nintendo Switch mini model. In a press release, Nintendo noted that its E3 2019 Nintendo Direct will "focus entirely on software," following previous comments in April from Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa noting that the company has no new hardware to reveal. This also looks to be the first E3 that Nintendo will focus solely on the Switch, with no hints at new Nintendo 3DS game announcements.
News conference: June 11 (Tuesday) @ 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET
What about Sony?
Sony typically has one of the biggest presences at E3, which is why the gaming world was shocked when the company announced it would be skipping E3 2019. Speculation has run rampant ever since Sony confirmed the news in late 2018 — does Sony not have enough to show this year? Or is the gaming giant simply biding its time for its own stand-alone PS5 launch event?
"Sony only focused on a handful of games last year and got some blowback for that, so I suspect they looked at what they were going to be able to show off this year and didn’t think they had an excellent story to tell," Ward said. "I think they'll be back in force at E3 2020, though."
Whatever the case may be, Sony could still be part of the E3 conversation without physically being at the big show. The company recently kicked off its State of Play livestreams, an online-only, Nintendo Direct-style series of broadcasts in which Sony shows off a handful of new PS4 and PSVR games. The first State of Play kicked off in March 2019, so don't be shocked to see another one pop up around E3 season.
How to Watch E3 2019
You don't need to be in Los Angeles to see the latest and greatest reveals from E3 2019. The show's news conferences will be broadcasted on most major streaming platforms, including Twitch, Mixer, YouTube and Facebook Live. Here's a handy cheat sheet of what to watch and when:
- EA Play: June 7 to June 8, time TBD
- Xbox: June 9 @ 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET
- Bethesda: June 9 @ 5:30 p.m. PT / 8:30 p.m. ET
- PC Gaming Show: June 10 @ 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET
- Ubisoft: June 10 @ 1 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. ET
- Square Enix: June 10 @ 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET
- Nintendo: June 11 @ 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET