E3 may never grace the halls of the LA Convention Center again—and if it does, it won't be in 2022. As reported by GamesBeat, the year's biggest gaming convention is going to be held online instead of in-person. E3 pivoted to being online-only in 2021, following its cancelation in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"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 Entertainment Software Association, which organizes E3, told GamesBeat.
While Covid-19 no doubt played a role in this decision, the timing of the announcement makes it sound like the ESA is reacting to the current surge of infections due to the new Omicron variant. According to analyst Mike Futter, the ESA was already planning to skip the in-person event this year.
"This is spin", Futter tweeted. "The ESA's event last summer was... not good. And publishers have learned they don't need to pay exorbitant rates to the ESA to reach press and consumers."
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/2oIbkNDFBxJanuary 6, 2022
As Futter points out, it's hard to see what future E3 has as an industry event, either online or in-person. Game publishers have learned they don't need the ESA's help arranging livestreams to show off their games, and the last two summers have seen the week of "E3" spread into a full month's worth of streaming showcases like the Wholesome Direct.
Fan-oriented events like PAX may live on when Covid-19 dies down, but 2019 might effectively have been the end of E3. I'd expect this year's summer of streams to rely even less on the ESA's organization than last year's did. Maybe this is the year Geoff Keighley fully takes over.