E3 2022 Will Be Online-Only

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has announced today that E3 — the Los Angeles-based annual trade event for the gaming industry — will be online-only this year.

E3 2022 was expected to be the first time since 2019 that the event was held in person, as the COVID-19 pandemic — and its several variants since — had made it unsafe for such a large gathering to take place over the past two years. Now, that’s not happening either, as the ESA has decided to shift E3 to an online-only format again this year.

Speaking to VentureBeat, the ESA said the decision was made because of the virus and its “potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees.”

“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.”

Regardless of what happens with COVID this year, E3 won’t be in-person. Even if the Omicron variant subsides by June, there are countless logistics and booking issues that must be planned far well in advance.

Take, for example, the LA Convention Center (LACC), which has been home to numerous conventions such as Anime Expo, DragCon, E3 and more for years now. But even those staple events must be booked every year, and one business analyst and consultant claims that E3 has actually had its 2022 LACC reservation cancelled for months now.

Upon hearing the news that E3 IRL was cancelled due to Omicron, journalist Mike Futter said, “This is a spin. I heard from sources in mid-November, before Omicron’s emergence at the end of that month that the ESA had abandoned their dates for the LACC.”

Regardless of when E3’s LACC reservation was cancelled, the ESA is certainly being more cautious about COVID than the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) organizers, who held the show in-person this year despite Omicron concerns.

Many large gaming events appears to have gone by the wayside as COVID rages on into its second year. As organizers make tough decisions, they either run the risk of exacerbating the pandemic or lose out on the money-making excitement that only a live event can provide.