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E3 2022 crashes, burns with official cancellation of “all-digital” version

An invitation to E3 spills out of an open envelope, but it has been marked canceled.
Enlarge / Will E3 ever come back, either physically or digitally?

Aurich Lawson | Getty Images

E3’s years-long spin down the drain has become more drastic thanks to a major cancellation to all “E3”-related events this summer.

The news comes in the form of an allegation from Razer PR lead Will Powers, who made no bones about what he was told: “Just got an email… It’s official, E3 digital is official [sic] cancelled for 2022.” When pressed in his replies about whether the event might shift from a digital event to something in person, Powers tweeted, “Official ESA E3 is officially cancelled cancelled.”

Ars Technica has since been able to review the email provided to E3 partners and can confirm its contents. This email does not go so far as to announce the end of E3 altogether and leaves open the possibility that the event could return in one way or another in the future.

Summer wink fest

Representatives for the Electronic Software Association (ESA), E3’s long-time runners, did not immediately reply to Ars Technica’s questions about E3 2022’s cancellation or about its plans for future E3-themed events either this year or next. The ESA had previously pledged in January that an “all-digital” E3 would happen this summer, and an ESA representative told Ars Technica at the time, “Yes, the show is going to be virtual this year.”

Meanwhile, Geoff Keighley, who has produced and led an unofficial, E3-adjacent series of events and press-only reveals for years, chimed in once the news began making the social-media rounds with a one-emoji tweet: a winking face. Minutes later, the official Summer Games Fest Twitter confirmed that the Keighley-run, all-digital event will return in June of this year with a slate of E3-like game announcements and trailers. Exact dates, partners, hosts, and guests have not yet been announced.

Many gaming companies, including formal members of the ESA, have gotten along just fine for years without formal E3 presentations. Sony, EA, Activision Blizzard, and other game publishers began skipping E3’s physical version in 2019 by either hosting physical events outside E3’s halls or hosting their own wholly digital presentations—well before the latter became the norm. E3 2020 was already struggling with buy-in by major gaming companies before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shuttering of its physical incarnation.

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