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E3 2022 canceled in full, will return in 2023

(Washington Post illustration; E3; iStock)

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has canceled plans for another digital version of its Electronic Entertainment Expo convention, the world’s largest video game conference better known as E3. The ESA, which runs the show, confirmed the decision in a statement to The Washington Post and other media outlets Thursday, saying the show will return “with a reinvigorated showcase” in 2023.

With E3 traditionally held in early June, the ESA scrapped plans to hold the event in person in early January, then citing concerns around the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“We will devote all our energy and resources to delivering a revitalized physical and digital E3 experience next summer,” the ESA wrote in its statement Thursday. “Whether enjoyed from the show floor or your favorite devices, the 2023 showcase will bring the community, media, and industry back together in an all-new format and interactive experience.”

The statement attributed the decision to “focus the [ESA’s] resources and use this time to shape our plans and deliver an all-new experience that delights fans, who have the highest expectations for the premier event in video games.”

The news is a surprising turn after the 2021 edition of the conference — conducted digitally via several days of live-streamed presentations from video game publishers — opened with a declaration that E3 would return in person to the Los Angeles Convention Center, its annual home since 2009.

Following the January cancellation of this year’s in-person E3, the ESA said it was “nonetheless excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”

From 2021: For years, E3 has been gaming’s biggest event. Is that still true?

E3 serves as the main event in the video game industry’s annual chain of conferences and showcases, bringing together game developers and publishers from around the world. It has served as the setting for major announcements around upcoming games and allowed fans and media to get early hands-on access with new and soon-to-be-released titles.

However, for the past several years the conference’s prestige has eroded somewhat. Most notably, Sony Interactive Entertainment opted out of attending in 2019 and has not returned, preferring instead to hold its own virtual presentations for its PlayStation line of consoles and games. The 2020 expo was canceled due to the pandemic, and 2021′s virtual expo contained far fewer major announcements than were typical of previous iterations of E3.

“Our members look to the ESA to deliver an experience that revitalizes the event in a new and exciting way,” the ESA’s statement said. “That’s why we are using this time to shape plans for 2023 and are working with our members to ensure that the revitalized showcase sets a new standard for hybrid industry events and fan engagement.”