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Report: E3 2022 in all forms is canceled and we can't believe it

Consider this the other shoe dropping. Almost three months after deciding to make the E3 gaming conference an all-digital event, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has reportedly pulled the plug on the entire affair.

The news comes via an industry insider, Will Powers, PR lead, Americas for popular gaming gear company Razer. He tweeted the news of the apparent cancellation on Thursday: 

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If this holds true, there won't even be a digital E3 event.

It's been a rough few years for E3. In the face of the pandemic, it canceled the event in 2020, successfully held an all-digital one last year, but was forced to again cancel in-person festivities for 2022 in the face of the Omicron surge.

While we're mostly through that COVID variant wave, ESA has apparently made another tough decision for the once-bustling event (66,000 attendees in 2019), pulling the plug on the digital experience, as well.

The loss of even a virtual event could be a tough pill to swallow for gamers who see it as more than just an industry trade show. As TRG's Vic Hood wrote when E3 canceled this year's in-person event:

"[E3] has grown to become a celebration of gaming: media attend to report on the biggest upcoming games, while fans attend to get their hands on the newest releases and to be among like-minded individuals. I can only describe it as a paradise for gamers."

Is this the end of E3? It's been through rough patches before. In 2016, multiple major game studios, including EA and Activision Blizzard, pulled out of the show, holding their own game showcases nearby. Plus, interest has waxed and waned in the periods between new console launches and major title releases.

E3 has, in general, rebounded and was looking strong right up until the pandemic when virtually all in-person tradeshows around the world were either canceled or shifted to virtual events.

As we write this, the ESA has not responded to TechRadar's requests for comment. It's posted nothing on social media or its news blog. Notably, the E3 Twitter account page still has an E3 2021 logo on it and has posted nothing about any change in status for the event.

The official E3 page does say, "E3 2022 See you next year," with no hint of irony that we're already well into 2022. Subscribers to the E3 newsletter get a welcome message that still includes "E3 2021" in the header art.

We'll be sure to update this post as soon as we know more.

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