E3 — one of the largest video game trade shows of the year — will once again be an online-only event this summer, the ESA has announced, citing ongoing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. The news, first reported by VentureBeat, marks the third year in a row that E3 will have skipped its in-person event due to 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 commented in a statement to VentureBeat. “We are nonetheless excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”
The ESA had originally planned to bring back E3 as an in-person conference in 2022, announcing in April 2021 (when it officially moved that year’s conference to a digital event) that “the ESA looks forward to coming back together to celebrate E3 2022 in person.” But with the onset of the omicron variant and case numbers surging in the United States, the ESA appears to have decided that it’s not worth the risk of hosting a conference packed with thousands of journalists, game developers, and fans this summer.
E3’s cancellation of an in-person event is the latest in a series of major events that have been derailed by COVID’s latest surge: the Grammys awards show was just indefinitely postponed from its original January 31st date, while the Sundance Film Festival is also going online-only, too.
The ESA isn’t the only one looking forward to summer gaming events; shortly after the news that E3 2022 would be a virtual event, gaming industry personality Geoff Keighley announced that his own “Summer Games Fest” event (which itself strove to fill the space left by E3’s cancellation in 2020) would also be returning in 2022.