The Electronic Entertainment Expo has once again gone digital only due to safety concerns surrounding the current COVID-19 crisis, specifically the Omicron varient sweeping the United States right now. This will mark the third year in a row the pinnacle event in the games industry will not be held in-person at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The announcement, first reported by GamesBeat, comes from the Entertainment Software Association, stating that the move is done due to the "health risks surrounding COVID-19."
"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. We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon."
Last year E3 2021 was held online only during the same week as Geoff Keighley's Summer Fest, while the 2020 version was canceled completely thanks to the outbreak of Covid-19 across the globe. While late 2021 we started to see in-person events again, such as PAX West and most recently The Game Awards, it seems the current spike in infections, especially due to the Omicron variant, has the ESA scuttling the in-person event this year.
While this certainly means that we'll see E3 in some online form this summer, when GamesBeat pressed the ESA on exact details, the representative only responded that they are "excited about the possibilities of an online event."
The Electronic Entertainment Expo is often considered the biggest event on the games industry calendar each year, with tens of thousands of professionals, journalists and most recently fans descending upon downtown LA each June. The event typically sees some of the biggest announcements of the year, as well as high profile showcases from developers and publishers. While the relevance of the event has waned in recent years with big industry names pulling out of the expo entirely, it still has remained one of the largest gatherings in North America for the industry. How it will look in the future after years without an in-person presence remains to be seen, though.