A recent announcement stated that the 2022 Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3, will remain digital-only, citing the uptick in COVID-19 cases. Despite this, Mike Futter, a business analyst, suggests the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the organizers of E3, were not prepared for a physical event, even before the Omicron variant surge. Futter reported on Twitter that sources told him the ESA abandoned its booking of the Los Angeles Convention Center, the long-time host of E3, in mid-November. Futter cited the same sources that provided reliable information for his past E3 coverage.
This is 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. https://t.co/2oIbkNDFBx
— Mike Futter (@Futterish) January 6, 2022
If this is true, it runs contrary to the ESA’s comment that E3’s digitization was due to Covid-19 since Omicron spread to the United States on Dec. 1 and only saw publicized spread outside of the U.S. near the end of November. Jason Schreier, a renowned gaming journalist, agreed with Futter’s reporting and indicated that E3 might be on its last legs.
“I 100% believe @Futterish’s reporting that the ESA gave up on E3 months ago (there would otherwise have been dates on their website) over the PR fluff piece that hit today. No way this was a knee-jerk reaction to Omicron. It’s E3 throwing in the towel.”
Schreier’s opinion supports a general downhill slope for the annual gaming convention. E3’s last physical event in 2019 saw 66,100 attendees, down 3000 from the 2018 convention. Additionally, big-name publishers are leaving E3 in favor of a more cost-effective approach through their own streams or platforms like Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest.
Nintendo, PlayStation, Electronic Arts, Blizzard, and Activision have all dropped out, leaving Microsoft as one of the last big names of E3. The future of E3 is, indeed, questionable, but for now, it is here to stay. Solid details for E2 2022 have not been announced.