E3 Shifts to Online-Only Event Amidst COVID Concerns

The yearly gaming expo will skip the convention hall once again.


In a statement to GamesBeat, the Electronic Software Association has announced that their signature yearly gaming expo, E3, will be online only for the second year in a row. The announcement comes months in advance as the Omicron variant continues to surge throughout the U.S, creating safety concerns for its usual convention hall setting.

“Due to the ongoing health risks surrounding COVID-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees, E3 will not be held in person in 2022,” the ESA stated. “We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.” When asked if the event will indeed take place online, the trade group reiterated their enthusiasm for deciding what to do with a virtual event.

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This now marks the third straight year that the expo has been limited due to COVID-19. Back in 2020, the event was canceled altogether as the pandemic began, before making the transition to a virtual showing in June of 2021. The virtual show that took place last year barely resembled the typical avalanche of announcements and updates, with many companies opting out entirely or hosting their own events outside of the E3 banner. With the expo usually held around June, the ESA now has time to reorganize and hopefully assure a better showing for what is meant to be the biggest event in gaming.


Image via Nintendo

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It’s unclear what the future of E3 is after the pandemic though. Analyst Mark Futter reported that the ESA was likely preparing for this all along, as it canceled its booking for the Los Angeles Convention Center back in November. However, he also noted that the move to virtual has shown many companies that paying top dollar for a spot in the show simply isn’t worth it, when they can host their own live stream showcases any time of the year and still get plenty of coverage. Nintendo and EA already have their own events in the form of Nintendo Direct and EA Play Live, and the return of Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest only further throws the convention’s future into question.


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