The Entertainment Software Association has announced that E3 2022 will occur this year as an online only event again.
E3 2022 was to be the first time since 2019 that the video game convention would be held in person rather than online after two whole years of the event being made unsafe by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, several variants later – thanks, Omicron and Delta – it seems that the “potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees” is too difficult to ignore.
The full statement from the ESA, the trade group which represents the various interests of the videogame industry’s publishers, reads: “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.”
The level of caution of an online E3 2022 is only prudent, as the huge burst of infections occurring across the world, in large part due to the emergence of the Omicron variant, means it would be unwise to pack thousands of humans in close proximity to one another again. This decision is in stark contrast to the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that is currently taking place in Las Vegas, and has received deserved criticism for risking another “super spreader” event.
The coronavirus continues to be a concern for just about every organization planning in-person gatherings, under the misguided belief that large crowds are feasible due to vaccines. But with new variants proving to be more aggressive and contagious than the one that was seen in late 2020 and early 2021, such optimism is premature.
E3 last year was a fairly scatter shot affair, with many of its exhibitors and highlights bowing out toset up their own digital events or joining independent exhibitions. Ultimately, not much made up the “E3 proper” last year, especially after major publishers like Sony and EA had already stopped participating. With this news, its unclear what an already struggling E3 will end up being in the years to come.