E3 2022: What We Know About The Canceled Event And What's Replacing It

Well, for starters, it's not happening.

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E3 has been a staple of the games industry for decades, but it's going through a massive transition right now. After a tumultuous few years punctuated by big publishers pulling out and the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting plans, the ESA has announced that E3 2022 is not happening. While the ESA has said that it plans to return to a live, in-person show in 2023, major publishers are moving forward with their own summer game reveal plans with or without E3. That will make this year unusual--as the show won't be centralized in Los Angeles, and the events may be spread outside of a single week--and could mark big changes in the years ahead for E3 going forward. Here's everything we know about E3 2022 and the other showcases that have stepped in to fill the gap.

What happened to E3 2022?

In late March, the ESA officially confirmed rumors that had been circulating that E3 2022 would be canceled in its entirety. That included not just the in-person event--which had previously been scuttled due to the continuing risk of the coronavirus pandemic--but also its digital component that had served as a stopgap last year.

Why the ESA ultimately made this decision isn't a clear or simple answer. The ESA did not give specific reasoning why it was canceling the digital component. Before the official word came, though, reports had circulated that the organization had not laid out plans for publishers, which led to speculation that it was being canceled. For its part, the ESA did put on a digital-only presentation for E3 2021, but its online hub was largely disconnected from the publisher-run showcases that ran on companies' own social media channels.

Even before the coronavirus hit, though, E3 was in a state of flux. Publishers like Activision and EA pulled out in favor of their own events. Plus, the ESA had begun allowing the public in, making it more directly comparable to fan-focused events like PAX. That made the future of E3 somewhat murky in general, as the show seemed to be transitioning from a business-to-business event covered by the press into something else entirely. What it would ultimately become was the subject of much speculation.

But game reveals are still happening, right?

Yes, yes they are. One of the uncanny things about these last few years has been to watch the industry mostly maintain some of the usual norms of E3 all on its own. E3 was canceled altogether in 2020, and the digital-only show in 2021 seemed, at least from the outside, to be mostly a hub for publisher events. And obviously, the lack of a physical space makes a big difference for both B2B and press. But for the average video game fan watching from home, not much has changed. You can still see publishers showcase their wares sometime around mid-June, albeit usually with a slick studio presentation instead of a live stage show.

That appears to be the case this year as well, as publishers start to announce their own plans for E3-like showcases that detail their game announcements. So far, Microsoft is the only major publisher to announce the exact timing of its stage show, though its recent acquisition of Bethesda means that it will essentially function as two shows in one. Microsoft's branding is very consciously sharing the spotlight with Bethesda, which is a sign of how big the publisher acquisition is, as well as a possible hint of what will be shown. We're expecting to see a big showing for Starfield, for example.

Geoff Keighley has also detailed the dates for his Summer Game Fest Live event, which will take place right next to Microsoft's show. Summer Game Fest, which officially operates under Keighley's The Game Awards production, isn't tied to a single publisher or platform-holder, so it tends to serve as a more general purpose showcase with reveals from around the industry. So you can expect that show to be, similar to The Game Awards, a variety showcase of game debuts and new trailers. The Summer Game Fest this year will also be aired in select IMAX theaters.

We expect to see other publishers announcing their own event timing throughout the summer. It may not be centralized to a single week in June anymore, but the general idea of summer game announcements is still certainly happening.

When is not-E3 happening?

So far only two events have been announced: Summer Game Fest Live on June 9, and the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 12. We may see other publishers announcing their own showcase dates, especially ones that have traditionally supported E3 like Ubisoft.

Nintendo and Sony have both developed their own regular cadence of video announcements--called Nintendo Direct and Sony State of Play, respectively--so we expect that both of those platforms will also hold larger-scale announcement presentations sometime over the summer. And, of course, the last few years without a physical E3 have given way to more consortiums of smaller developers pooling their resources, so we may see some of those strategically timed to take place near other major publisher events.

Be sure to follow our Not-E3 2022 Press Conference Schedule for when and where to tune in for every presentation.

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