Anyone anticipating a return to an in-person E3 event should probably adjust their expectations. The Electronic Software Association has announced that it will be continuing to run the show as an online event for 2022.
In a statement to GamesBeat, an ESA spokesperson says that the in-person cancellation is because of "the ongoing health risks surrounding COVID-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees." The announcement comes as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States, though it has already begun to decline in South Africa and the United Kingdom, where it first began its spread.
IGN's Rebekah Valentine has apparently learned that this isn't a sudden cancellation. Plans to possibly continue E3's digital presence have apparently been in the works since as early as last Fall, shoftly after PAX West held its first in-person event since the pandemic's beginning.
Though E3's decision to stick with an online event means it won't be any kind of superspreader event for COVID-19, it has a lot of ground to gain after its 2020 event presence proved to be lackluster. Geoff Keighley's pre-COVID departure from E3 to form the Summer Games Fest proved to be a worthy competitor to the traditional marketing event, and E3 itself was buoyed primarily by livestreams hosted on other platforms.
The E3 event itself was a bit picked over, and numerous dedicated livestreamed hosted by the event featured games previously announced elsewhere.