CES 2021 Goes All Digital, Scrapping Las Vegas Show Due To Coronavirus

While CES isn't a gaming-centric event, its shift to an online-only event is an early sign that the coronavirus pandemic's effects will linger into 2021.

July 28, 2020

The 2021 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show in January will be an all digital event, cancelling the physical convention in Las Vegas amid continued coronavirus concerns in the U.S.

While CES isn’t a games-centric event, it is one of the biggest tech showcases in the world. And given the U.S.’s extremely poor response to the pandemic, where confirmed cases and deaths continue to climb, that the physical show has been scrapped just shy of six months out is a sign that doesn’t bode well for the year to come.

From a statement issued by the Consumer Technology Association, CES’ organizers, on Tuesday:


“For more than 50 years, CES has been the global stage for innovation. And CES 2021 will continue to be a platform to launch products, engage with global brands and define the future of the tech industry.

With the growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it is not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person.

An all-digital CES 2021 will allow the entire tech community to safely share ideas and introduce the products that will shape our future. You’ll be able to participate in all the awe-inspiring moments of CES wherever you are in the world. We are designing a unique experience for the tech industry.”

CES 2021 will run from Jan. 6-9, with keynotes and conferences, product showcases and demos, networking meetups, and roundtable discussions all being conducted online.

Again, CES isn’t a gaming-heavy show, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely devoid of industry news. A few months ago, before the coronavirus became a global outbreak, PlayStation head Jim Ryan took the stage during Sony’s press conference to talk about the specs of the upcoming PS5 and show off its logo for the first time.

The situation has changed quite drastically since then, however. COVID-19 quickly developed from an outbreak into a global pandemic, which, at an industry level, shifted developers to remote work, altered launch plans, and forced the cancellation of numerous marquee events like E3, PAX Australia, and PAX West (with the latter two having merged into one online event for September).

The original hope was that this would all blow over in a couple months, and that we would be in the process of getting back to normal. And while that’s true in some sections of the world, in the U.S….well, here we are nearly 4.5 million cases later.

“Technology has helped us all work, learn and connect during the coronavirus pandemic, and it has presented real solutions to help solve complex global challenges,” read the CTA’s statement. “We recognize that, particularly in these uncertain times, it is the partnerships of some of the most creative minds that bring the best solutions to life.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming the global tech industry, from international brands to budding startups, to kick off the year with the world’s most influential digital technology event.”

CES is planned to return to Las Vegas in 2022. Don’t expect there to be many major in-person conventions, if any, until then.

The PS5 and the competing Xbox Series X from Microsoft are still on track to launch some time this fall.


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