The last two E3’s have been odd, to say the least. With E3 2020 being cancelled completely and E3 2021 being a digital only event there was a hope for some that E3 2022 would be able to go back to being an in-person event. There were reports that it could be a digital and physical hybrid event of some kind, but there were definite hopes that 2022 would have the event return to being an in-person affair in some capacity.
However, it appears that will not be the case. On Thursday, the Electronic Software Association that hosts and runs E3 said in a statement to GamesBeat that due to concerns with COVID-19 the event would once again be digital only. While obviously last year’s showing was just fine doing that, it does mean that the ESA will not be able to make the likelier higher profits it would have received had the event been an in-person showing.
“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 are nonetheless excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”
For some people, this is going to be unfortunate news. There’s a desire for the world to return to some sense of normalcy, and while many will argue that there just isn’t a need for giant stage show events like E3 anymore, a digital only event just isn’t the same. What we do wonder however is how much longer an event like E3 will be able to continue operation.
Further reports from IGN’s Rebekah Valentine only contributed to the idea that E3’s future is in doubt. It’s being reported that E3 potentially gave up on the idea of having an in-person E3 as recent as fall of 2021, and their lack of communication in regards to not only a physical E3 but a digital one is leaving many wondering if an event will be happening at all.
This effectively means that currently, E3 2022’s very existence is uncertain. With no dates set and no physical event planned, that would theoretically leave a possibility for a digital showcase. But in a follow-up communication with IGN, the ESA added that it could not confirm at this time whether or not there would be a digital event this year instead of the physical event, as there was in 2021.
Other industry sources suggested that while they would typically have heard about formal plans for E3 by now — digital or physical — the ESA’s silence on the matter had been deafening, and they are unsure what the plan is at all, if any.
We’ve seen the importance of E3 shrink over the last few years. Major publishers like EA and Sony have pulled out of the event in some capacity, Nintendo has been hosting digital only directs instead of stage shows for years, and in this technological age, many of us aren’t sure what the purpose of E3 is anymore. Is it a trade show? An event to show off cool games? A convention? Does the ESA even know anymore? We’ll just have to wait and see what more information the ESA will have to share about whatever E3 is going to be. If there even is an E3 anymore.