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In news that is both surprising and unsurprising at the same time, the upcoming E3 gaming convention has been cancelled for 2022. Previously the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) that runs the show had changed the event from in-person to online-only, but now the online portion is officially off the table too. That means there will be no E3 this year, at all.
Back in January the ESA had announced the online-only change due to the prevalence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. As you recall, those were dark days, and the uncertainty around its spread made it impossible to plan for the July event. This was a repeat of the situation in 2021, where it was also online-only. Back in 2020, when COVID-19 first hit, the show was cancelled completely. Today’s news marks the first time the show has been cancelled for a reason not related to the pandemic. Though there was no official reason given by the ESA for the cancellation, there just wasn’t much enthusiasm for the event this year according to IGN. Complicating matters is Geoff Keighley’s online Summer Game Fest, which takes place in June. Gamesbeat said it heard E3 was having a hard time gaining traction in the face of a rival event.
The ESA did put out a statement, however, saying it will be focusing on returning to an in-person event in 2023. “E3 will return in 2023 with a reinvigorated showcase that celebrates new and exciting video games and industry innovations. ” In its statement, the organization indicated next year’s show would be a hybrid event. It added, “Whether enjoyed from the show floor or your favorite devices, the 2023 showcase will bring the community, media, and industry back together in an all-new format and interactive experience.”
The news was met online with a collective yawn. It seems that two years into the pandemic, we’re just used to getting “news events” streamed into our homes now. This includes video game announcement events from the industry’s major players. Nintendo’s Direct, Sony’s State of Play, EA Play Live, and the various Xbox events can be streamed to customers on their own schedule. Plus, they don’t have to set up shop directly across from their biggest competitors either. The cancellation comes after years of lagging show attendance and rumors of its eventual demise, which factored into peoples’ non-surprise at the news. It’s definitely the end of an era though, as E3 used to be the biggest gaming event of the year. Though the organization says the show will continue in 2023, we’ll have to see if it comes to fruition. The industry seems to have moved on, and the ESA is acknowledging it with today’s announcement.