There will be no in-person E3 event this year.
With Omicron surging across the U.S., the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has decided to cancel in-person activities. Last year’s E3, which was held June 12-to-15, was an all-digital affair, as well.
In a statement given to Gamesbeat, the ESA said, “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. We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”
What’s still unknown is whether the ESA will sponsor a complete digital conference experience. According to Gfinity, the ESA has told IGN it can’t confirm a full digital event, yet.
The ESA’s caution is likely warranted as most reports put us in the middle of the Omicron surge, which means it could be weeks or months before we emerge on the other side. That outlook is making it increasingly difficult for event planners to map out big conventions with significant numbers of in-person attendees.
A typical E3, which covers the gaming software, entertainment, and console industry, draws almost 70,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors (there were an estimated 66K attendees in 2019, the last in-person event).
The news comes just as CES (run by the CTA) wraps up its in-person Las Vegas tech conference, CES 2022. Even as Omicron was slowly ramping up, that decision came with its share of controversy and concern, as dozens of companies and tech media pulled out before the show began.
The E3 site has not updated to reflect the change, but assuming this holds, the early call by the ESA lets them avoid the embarrassment of companies pulling out and media not arriving to cover the gaming technology news.
TechRadar has contacted the ESA and will update this story with its comments.
[Updated to reflect ESA’s stance on a digital event]