E3, citing Omicron concerns, won’t be returning to LA this summer

The video game extravaganza called the Electronic Entertainment Expo, colloquially known as E3, has for the third consecutive summer been ditching an in-person event at the Los Angeles Convention Center. A trade group representing major players in the video game industry cited the threat posed by the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

But the news first reported on GamesBeatalso happens when the week-long gala held in June is at a crossroads.

“Due to the ongoing health risks associated with COVID-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees, E3 will not be held in 2022,” an E3 spokesperson said in a statement. “We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”

Each summer, E3 typically brings over 65,000 fans and industry professionals to the Los Angeles Convention Center and surrounding events.

While the merits of E3 have been the subject of media debate in recent years, especially with some of the top gaming companies including Sony Interactive Entertainment deciding to no longer participate in the event, losing this year’s convention was a blow to Los Angeles. . Last week, Sony unveiled its new PSVR 2 VR headset at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held in person despite the Omicron surge.

While E3 has struggled in recent years to attract some of the industry’s biggest players – Electronic Arts, for example, hosted its own festival in Hollywood the same week as Expo – the loss of E3 leaves a big gap in the summer convention calendar for Los -Angeles. The trade group has in the past claimed to generate more than $88 million in revenue for the city, and its last opening day in 2019 was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

During the pandemic online oriented Summer Game Fest, led by Game Awards founder Geoff Keighley, has pretty much supplanted the E3 spotlight. Four-day E3 online concert in 2021 there were few razzmatazz video games and the hype was split between two trailer preview events.

At the time, I didn’t want any of the events to return to an online-only format, writing, “Six hours of YouTube daily is far more exhausting than 18-hour days spent running around downtown Los Angeles at a convention. Combine the lack of a face-to-face conversation with the inability to play the game, and the message is soft advertising.”

However, it is unknown what form E3 will take in 2022 as it joins the rescheduled this month’s Grammy Awards and now only virtual Sundance Film Festivalalong with many other events affected by Omicron.

However, the gaming industry cannot do without in-person events in 2022. At the time of this writing, the Game Developers Conference was scheduled to return to San Francisco for a week-long gathering at the end of March.