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Why it matters: In March, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) canceled the 2022 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which would have been this month. Covid has hit this expo harder than others over the last three years, but the ESA isn't quite ready to give up.
In an interview with the Washington Post this week, ESA president and CEO Stan Pierre-Louis reiterated the association's commitment to holding an in-person and online E3 next summer. However, the ESA hasn't confirmed a precise date.
This year's E3 cancellation was the second in three years. Covid — the cause of E3 2020's cancellation — wasn't the only source of controversy surrounding the expo and the ESA, as attendees criticized how the association handled the backend of the online-only E3 2021.
The ESA fought to justify E3's existence in 2021, already in question pre-pandemic, attempting to adapt to a virtual environment. But the result is an embarrassment. What does E3 now contribute as a virtual trade show, beyond brand "prestige?" Even that only goes so far.— Matt Brown (@mattjbrown) June 7, 2021
Afterward, the status of E3 2022 was immediately in doubt. After each E3, the ESA usually reveals the next expo's date, but last year it simply announced a hybrid E3 with an unspecified 2022 date. The ESA changed its mind again in January, making it an online-only event. That decision was largely based on the Omicron variant's impact on CES and Sundance Film Festival. The ESA finally scrapped E3 2022 plans altogether in March, with Pierre-Louis citing Covid as the cause.
However, other 2022 game industry events are taking place in various forms despite the pandemic. March's 2022 Game Developers Conference was in-person. The Summer Game Fest this Thursday will be in-person and online, as will Gamescom in August. September's Tokyo Game Show will be in-person.
As other physical events learn to live with Covid and the game industry adapts without E3, next year may decide the future of its existence.