The first time that E3 was canceled was back in 2020. Two years later, it appears that it might happen again. Despite the relative success of the event's decision to go for an all-digital format in 2021, it appears that the Electronics Software Association isn't too keen on going digital for a second year in a row.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most events to go the online route. Although there was a small glimmer of hope in late 2021 when some live showcases pushed through in front of an actual audience, this did not last long. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 quickly reminded everyone that the pandemic is still here and very real. Experts are now warning the public to expect deadlier and more infectious variants of the COVID-19 to come. Because of this, we could see more events to go to an all-digital format again in 2022, except, maybe, for the ESA.
Earlier this year, ESA "confirmed" that it had scrapped its initial plans to hold E3 2022 in front of a live audience in favor of going digital. But, according to VentureBeat reporter Jeff Grub, E3 2022 will "probably" be canceled altogether in 2022. Grubb cited that developers and publishers are turning their attention towards alternatives already. Specifically, Grubb singled out Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest, which was held around the same time as E3 2021.
E3 has started to lose its popularity and appeal. Fewer audiences every year are attending and watching E3. This, among other things, forced Sony and EA to bow out. Both eventually hosted their own showcases, State of Play and EA Play, respectively.
Microsoft and Nintendo stole the show at E3 2021. Most fans are expecting both companies to do the same later this year at E3 2022. But, if E3 2022 is canceled, Microsoft and Nintendo might hold digital presentations of their own. If this happens, it wouldn't be the first time. Case in point, Microsoft held a summer showcase back in July 2020 with the absence of E3. However, Nintendo chose to remain silent for most of the year, leaving fans disappointed.
Of course, this is all still just speculation. Until the ESA confirms anything, you should take what Grubb said with a grain of salt.