In news that was not entirely unexpected, but disheartening, all the same, it has been announced that E3 2022 will retain the digital-only format used for E3 2021. The company behind the event, the Electronic Software Association, announced the news on Thursday. The reason for this, as the previous plans were for the event to be held in person yet again, was “due to the ongoing health risks surrounding COVID-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees,” as noted by GameBeats.
The novel coronavirus, better known as COVID-19, spread rapidly throughout 2020 shutting down much of the world. While 2021 saw new vaccinations to the virus that have proven effective, new variants such as the Delta and Omnicron have seen COVID-19 numbers spike near the tail end of 2021. Going into 2022, we are seeing daily COVID-19 cases return to levels that we had not seen since the Summer of 2020.
While events like E3 take place over a matter of days, they can take months of prep work on the part of companies to prepare the large booths, demos, trailers, and conferences that we love and make these events so special. While it may seem premature to make this announcement only a few days into the New Year, this is exactly when these hard decisions need to start being made.
It is also important to note this is the last thing the ESA would want to do unless they had to. Only a few years early, the ESA made the decision to open the event to the public as a source of revenue which they desperately needed. In Las Vegas this week, the Consumer Electronics Show a multitude of major tech companies back out due to these concerns which was perhaps the most telling moment that the world might be backsliding.
Currently, there has been no word from organizers on the plans for this year’s event, only stating that they are” nonetheless excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.” Shortly after the announcement was made Geoff Keighley announced the return of his E3 competitor event the Summer Games Fest. This compounded with the lack of revenue for E3 has led many to question how much of a future it actually has.