E3 shifts to online-only event because of Omicron concerns
The Entertainment Software Association is shifting the Electronic Entertainment Expo to an online-only event out of concerns around the pandemic.
“Due to the ongoing health risks surrounding COVID-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees, E3 will not be held in person in 2022,” the ESA said in a statement to GamesBeat. “We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”
This will be the second time the annual E3 conference has been pushed to online, the first time being in June 2021, whereas the 2020 event during the beginning of the pandemic was scraped entirely. Needless to say, with E3 being the biggest annual gaming event, such a change had a massive impact on the industry. E3 is a hub for all games alike including AAA games and emerging indie games.
The ESA, a trade group led by the game industry’s publishers, is evidently being cautious because of the huge burst in coronavirus infections prompted by the Omicron variant. The CES 2022 tech trade show — which is taking place in Las Vegas this week — has caught a lot of criticism for going forward with its in-person event despite the risks of being a “superspreader” event.
While E3 is still months away and the current spike could be over by that time, the organization is in the midst of signing up companies to take exhibition space, as it often takes months for companies to pull their booths together for the big show, which in normal times draws more than 50,000 industry people and 15,000 fans in-person to the Los Angeles Convention Center every June.
As it is, the exact date of E3 is not concluded yet, but it will be in the range of June 2022.
Switching to online means that E3 2022 will once again consist of a series of prerecorded lectures by major developers such as Xbox and Nintendo. Fans and media all over the world can watch their content and announcements through the various online streaming services; E3 2022 is expected to be completely free of charge.
At the moment, it hasn’t been announced which companies will join the event and which ones will prefer to hold separate exhibitions as E3 has less and less relevance each year. This year’s edition of E3 does not have a set date yet, but don’t be surprised if it ends up being not happening at all, as more and more big events, award ceremonies and concerts begin to announce changes in dates and official cancelations.