The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced in January that E3 2022 would be cancelling its in-person event in the summer over a lack of clarity on health proceedings for the rampant surge of Covid-19’s Omicron variant. At the time they were unable to provide solid confirmation on whether this would mean another digital event, following on from their digital conference in 2021 which had its large share of problems. Now, however, with announcements initially coming from E3’s partnering companies, and now confirmed by the ESA themselves to IGN, E3 2022 has officially been cancelled both digitally and in-person.
Is E3 Gone For Good?
With the cancellation confirmed there has now not been a proper E3 event since 2019. 2020 was cancelled in its entirety due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and 2021 could only return as a half-hearted digital event. Though the official reasoning behind the January cancellation was for health concerns again, it did not go unnoticed that the general enthusiasm for E3 overall had waned over the last few years and that this could merely be a slow easing out of the conference as a whole. What was once “the world’s biggest stage” has slowly been diminished as more and more studios have opted instead to host their own conferences in lieu of the centralized showcase.
With the ease of communication that streaming and YouTube provides for companies, studios like Sony and Nintendo have already taken to keeping fans updated through regular streamed Sony State of Play and Nintendo Direct showcases for the last few years. Sony themselves have not attended E3 for the last few years, and earlier this year EA announced that it would not be joining E3 for its usual adjacent EA Play Live showcase.
Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest and Game Awards shows have also stolen away a lot of the spotlight that E3 once held, with many of last years biggest announcements being shown off at the charismatic Canadian’s show the day before E3 had even started – most notably Elden Ring, the undoubted talk of the summer conference, was debuted at Keighley’s Game Fest, and his loving bromance with Hideo Kojima always leave the enticing possibility for a PT-like announcement that would break the internet. As word spread of the official cancellation Keighley even took to Twitter to share a knowing “wink” to fans, suggesting that he is more than happy and able to pick up the mantle left behind.
As per IGN, the ESA strived to put together another digital event for 2022, but between partners and ESA themselves there was a lack of momentum behind putting out a digital equivalent which soon led to E3 2022’s ultimate cancellation. Whether this means E3 is gone for good remains to be seen – and speculation and general conversation does suggest that the weights are slightly tipped that way, as nostalgically missed though it may be – but the ESA have confirmed plans to return in 2023 with a “reinvigorated showcase”:
“E3 will return in 2023 with a reinvigorated showcase that celebrates new and exciting video games and industry innovations”.
“Today, we announce that there will also be no digital E3 showcase in 2022.
Instead, we will devote all our energy and resources to delivering a revitalized physical and digital E3 experience next summer. Whether enjoyed from the show floor or your favourite devices, the 2023 showcase will bring the community, media, and industry back together in an all-new format and interactive experience.
We look forward to presenting E3 to fans around the world live from Los Angeles in 2023.
Look for more news and announcements soon.”
A reinvigorated showcase suggests that the ESA are fully aware of the concerns of E3’s diminishing reputation and are now looking to address it in some form. However, with 2022 being missed and Geoff Keighley and Summer Game Fest stepping up it is hard to see what moves the ESA can take to imbue E3 with new life that will make it stand out again.