E3, biggest US video game expo, cancels June conference

Hundreds of people wait in line to get tested for Covid-19 at a testing site in Los Angeles, California, on Jan 3, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - The operator of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the biggest annual video game expo in the United States, cancelled its event in June, citing last Thursday (Jan 6) health concerns surrounding Covid-19.

Calling off the conference five months in advance is unusual. CES, the largest consumer electronics show in the US, pressed ahead with its event last week in Las Vegas, even as the omicron variant surges.

"Due to the ongoing health risks surrounding Covid-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees, E3 will not be held in person in 2022," E3's operator, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), said in a statement.

The ESA did not say whether it will hold an online event this year.

The rolling seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases in the US hit 540,000 earlier last week along with a surge in hospitalisations, days after the country reported a record one million infections in 24 hours.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the world's top video game publishers unveiled their slate of new titles at E3 in Los Angeles each summer and gave attendees the first chance to play them. Over the last two years, publishers moved the reveals online.

Last year, E3 staged a digital event in coordination with several publishers. Some heavyweights, including Electronic Arts and Sony Group, have elected to go their own way and hold online announcements separate from E3.

Both of those companies, along with others such as Activision Blizzard, had pulled out of E3 even before the pandemic in a sign of game publishers' increased lack of reliance on the conference.

Mr Mike Futter, an analyst at F-Squared, said the demise of this year's show was months in the making and likely driven by a lack of support from game publishers.

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