The E3 2022 Expo, one of the largest annual trade events for the video gaming industry, will once again be an online-only event this summer, as announced by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), citing ongoing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. This would mark the second consecutive year that E3 skips its in-person event, in favor of an online experience, due to the global pandemic.
According to Deadline, this year’s E3 is the Omicron variant’s latest casualty, considering that ESA had planned to make E3 2022 an in-person experience once again. This was announced in April 2021, the same year the conference held its first digital event, following the cancelled event in 2020. However, with the onset of the Omicron variant and case numbers surging in the US and the world, the ESA apparently decided that the risk outweighs the reward of hosting an in-person conference packed with thousands of attendees including fans, journalists, and game developers.
In reality, this isn’t an all too surprising move by the ESA; E3 2022’s cancellation of an in-person event and switching to an online experience is just the latest in a series of major events that are detrimentally affected by the surging COVID-19 variant. The Grammy Awards show, one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in the music industry, was just indefinitely postponed from its original January 31st date. At approximately the same time, the Sundance Film Festival announced modified plans for its event, which was originally conceptualized as a hybrid event. However, the festival organizers opted for an all-virtual event, citing the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant.
The ESA has all the reasons to look forward to its E3 2022 event this summer, considering the scope of this year’s slate. To reiterate, the massively successful Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is getting a sequel, and Horizon Forbidden West, God of War: Ragnarok, and Elden Ring are just some of the amazing titles expected to drop this year. Perhaps the most important news in the last decade of gaming is that 2018’s God of War is coming to PC, which signals the inevitable downfall of PlayStation exclusives — a true end of an era.
But the ESA isn’t the only one looking forward to the summer gaming events. In fact, shortly after the announcement that E3 2022 would be a virtual event, gaming industry personality Geoff Keighley announced that his own Summer Games Fest, which was originally conceptualized as a replacement for E3 in 2020, would also return in 2022. And that’s not the end of the list; summertime is gaming time, and there are more than 100 events worldwide centered around the gaming industry, developers, publishers, and hardware and accessories manufacturers. So far, the “big leagues” have decided to lead the effort against COVID and switch to virtual events. Other, smaller-scale events might not have the means to do so.
Regardless, the E3 2022 Expo has been cancelled due to the rising number of COVID cases caused by the highly transferable Omicron variant. It’s worth pointing out that, while the format has changed, the time scheduled hasn’t — E3 2022 is scheduled for June 2022, and the exact dates are still to be revealed.