E3’s in-person event has been cancelled for the third year in a row, organiser The Entertainment Software Association has confirmed.
In a statement, E3’s organiser said that it had made the decision due to “ongoing health risks surrounding Covid-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees”.
It added: “We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”
There’s no mention of plans for a digital event for 2022. Last year, The ESA held three days of live streamed coverage to replace the physical E3 event.
The cancellation means that should E3 return in 2023, it would be the event’s first in-person show for four years.
Even before the pandemic, The ESA was already facing significant pressure to reinvent E3, with several major publishers including EA, Sony and Activision having abandoned the event in recent years – and that was before 2020’s cancellation, after which many companies such as EA and Ubisoft enjoyed success running their own digital events.
Commenting on a VGC report last year, former Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aimé said that he believed The ESA needs to act fast if it is to save the historical games event.
Speaking to Gamertag Radio, Fils-Aimé said he saw reports about E3 going digital and wasn’t enthused. “I have to say that what I read doesn’t sound all that compelling,” he said.
“If I were king for a day, I’ll tell you how I would do it,” he said. “I do think doing this digitally is absolutely right and the reason for that is, there are more than the 60,000 people who would typically attend an E3. There are millions more interested in finding out what’s going on and executing an event digitally is the way to bring that to life, so that’s the right track.
“Having said that, I think that the platform holders need to find a way digitally to enable their fans, their players, to experience the content because that’s the key for E3 right – the ability to be playing The Last of Us Part 3 for the first time, or to play that next Breath of the Wild game for the first time, or to play the next great game coming from the new amalgamation of all the Xbox studios.
“To play for the first time is what’s magical and the platform holders need to figure out how to deliver that experience to their fans during an E3-like digital experience. I think that would be huge.”