The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is shifting back to an online-only format after concerns over the omicron variant, which has led to record spikes in new cases across the country and around the globe. The news was first reported on Thursday by VentureBeat.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) confirmed the news to VentureBeat, with a spokesperson saying, "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 are nonetheless excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”
The cancellation of an in-person gathering in Los Angeles six months ahead of the planned event does not bode well for other in-person tech and gaming industry events. While E3 was not held at all in an official capacity in the summer of 2020, the ESA shifted to an online-only format last summer to accommodate many of the largest publishers and developers in the industry still eager to display their new games.
According to IGN, the fate of this year's E3 has been hanging in the balance for months now, potentially before the omicron variant began ripping through the U.S., and the event was never officially listed on the Los Angeles Convention Center's 2022 calendar as it was in prior years. That suggests an in-person gathering may never have been in the cards regardless of the situation with COVID-19 cases.
The Game Developers Conference, another major U.S.-based game industry event, is still scheduled to be held live and in-person in San Francisco this March. A representative for GDC told Protocol that the event is "indeed going ahead in San Francisco" in two months.
Update 4:55PM ET, Jan. 6: Added comment from the organizers of GDC.