E3 2022 cancels in-person event while digital show remains uncertain

ESA has canceled its in-person event for E3 2022, according to a statement ESA shared with IGN. But while they hint at upcoming announcements, the future of the show this year and beyond remains unclear.

“Due to the ongoing health risks associated with COVID-19 and the possible effects on the safety of exhibitors and visitors, E3 2022 will not be held in person,” said a statement sent to IGN by ESA. “We are still incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”

This effectively means that the existence of E3 2022 is currently uncertain. Since no dates are set and no physical event is planned, this would theoretically leave the possibility for a digital presentation. In a follow-up communication with IGN, however, ESA added that at this point in time it could not confirm whether or not there would be a digital event this year instead of the physical event as in 2021.

ESA’s announcement comes amid an ongoing, deadly, global pandemic, the just seen a record number of new cases in the US. When ESA announced a physical event last year, vaccinations were still slowly increasing, and many observers believed that larger-scale in-person gaming events would resume in 2022. In short, with a smaller PAX West course in the fall and the Game Awards in December, it goes without a hitch. But the emergence of new coronavirus variants and ongoing concerns about test availability and masking requirements have made prospects more difficult for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the future of E3 has been in question for some time. The 2022 show never had fixed dates and was never on the official LACC calendar, even though the physical and digital shows of previous shows were scheduled over a year in advance. A personal E3 2022 was officially planned since last year’s show opened, per a Speech by LA Mayor Eric Garcetii. But official Twitter and the website have been unusually silent since then, and several sources with links to E3 speaking to IGN on an anonymous basis suggested that ESA tried to put on a physical show much earlier, possibly as early as the Fall, had given up last year. Other industry sources suggested that while they would normally have heard of formal plans for E3 – digital or physical – the ESA’s silence on the matter was deafening and they are not sure what the plan is in the first place.

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