Has E3 Been Canceled Forever?

June 3, 2022 • Devin Partida


The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is a trade show in the video game industry held annually by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Developers, publishers and hardware and accessory manufacturers often appear at E3 to showcase their new products, upcoming games and other game-related merchandise. However, fears now abound that E3 is canceled for good.

E3’s debut show was in Los Angeles in 1995, with an attendance of 50,000. Over time, E3 became the largest gaming-expo event due to its importance and impact. As streaming media grew, E3 transitioned from an industry-only event to a public event in 2017. 

Recent reports state that the ESA canceled E3 2022 and now, the ESA confirms there will be no digital event to replace it this year. 

Below, we’ll explain why E3 was canceled this year and if the event will come back in the future.

Why Did the ESA Cancel E3 2022?

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic heavily affected the trade show and conference industry. Holding live events became impossible as the virus spread and increased the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

In 2020, ESA canceled E3 out of an abundance of caution. The event came back the following year virtually and the ESA branded it as an “Electronic Entertainment Experience.” It was a three-day digital event full of game announcements, trailers, reveals and industry news. Nintendo and Microsoft were two major players in E3 2021. 

The ESA decided to cancel the in-person E3 event amid COVID-19 risks this year. Eventually, the ESA confirmed there would be no digital replacement for the event, meaning that they canceled E3 2022 entirely.

There are a few reasons why the ESA canceled E3 2022 in its entirety. Another industry event, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco in March of 2022, was reportedly a COVID-spreading event. Several attendees tested positive for COVID-19. 

Aside from pandemic concerns, some major video game publishers bowed out of E3 to focus on hosting their own online events. Some examples are EA Play Live, Sony’s State of Play and the Nintendo Direct showcases. 

Will E3 Stay Canceled?

While gaming industry professionals and gamers are disappointed that E3 is canceled this year, the ESA confirmed with IGN that the event will be revitalized for 2023. The ESA plans on devoting its resources and energy to delivering a new physical and digital event next year. 

On the official E3 website, a statement says, “E3 2022: See You Next Year.” The ESA will likely do its best to bring back E3 in 2023 and make it a stellar event for all who attend.

It’s a daunting task to figure out the logistics around in-person, hybrid or fully virtual events in the trade and conference industry. However, communication is a key component of pivoting back to virtual events. It seems as though the ESA has communicated its intentions clearly. 

After news of E3’s cancellation was announced, video game hype-man Geoff Keighley tweeted an announcement that Summer Game Fest would return in June of 2022. Those interested in trade shows in the gaming industry will have something to look forward to this summer.

Anticipate a Possible E3 Return in the Coming Years

Based on statements from the ESA and other gaming professionals, it’s likely that E3 will return in 2023. However, that is subject to change. Consider subscribing to the E3 website to stay updated on 2022 news and cross your fingers that E3 will return next year.