E3 2022 is going to be a shadow of what the event used to be. Because while EA Play Live is the first showcase to go, it almost certainly won’t be the last. That’s the mindset I’m embracing now to avoid disappointment later, as we stare down the barrel of what could be a fairly unremarkable E3 in 2022.
The E3 2022 schedule is barren. Given that the season of reveals is now just a little under three months away, it would appear that publishers and platform holders alike are finally ready to move away from E3 as a marquee event. Instead, they may handle announcements on their own terms, building on the experience accrued through running digital events during the pandemic; unburdened as they sidestep collaboration with ESA and the high financial (and time) costs required to participate at an E3 event.
Admittedly, E3 has been trending this way for a little while now. A lot has happened in the last year – war broke out in Europe, we saw the rise of virus variants, and the return to some degree of normalcy has been underpinned by a pervasive sense of unease – so I don’t blame you if your memory of E3 2021 is a little hazy. While there were certainly some big announcements last June, they were far and few between – and only tangentially related to E3 itself.
We had the Elden Ring gameplay reveal at the Summer Games Fest. There was our first look at both Starfield and Redfall during Microsoft and Bethesda’s keynote presentation. A Nintendo Direct showcased Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 and the ensuing Treehouse Live took us inside Metroid Dread. Beyond these headlines there were few other announcements that really enraptured the attention of the world, which is a far cry from the impact E3 used to have in years gone by.
What’s next for E3 2022?
But we are, of course, living in a different era of information dissemination now. Historically, E3 was a way to focus the eyes of the world on the video game industry – particularly a mainstream media landscape that wasn’t capable, comfortable, or confident in covering interactive entertainment all year round. But gaming has grown dramatically in the last decade, with the medium laying claim to being one of the largest entertainment sectors in the world.
Where an E3 presentation would once guarantee a little TV time or coverage in national newspapers, we’re living through a time where video games are being brought into the wider conversation with far more frequency. It isn’t uncommon to see The Washington Post come in hot with a Starfield exclusive, or for CNN to cover the voice actors in Horizon Forbidden West, and for the BBC to cover independent horror games. Publishers are less reliant on E3 to get their message out than ever before, and we’re seeing that reflected in how little buzz there is around a potential 2022 event.
We’ve been slowly inching towards this reality for years now. Sony Interactive Entertainment dropped out of E3 back in 2018, opting to focus on its own digital State of Play events – timed to its own convenience. Other publishers have gradually followed suit, like Devolver Digital, EA, and Nintendo pulling its events away from the Los Angeles convention center, where E3 is typically hosted, or opting to go online-only. These publishers have seen the value in building dedicated blocks for their own in-depth and extended coverage, away from the hectic schedule that came to define E3 in its busiest years. It surely won’t be long before others follow suit.
Ubisoft saw success throughout the pandemic with its own Ubisoft Forward showcases, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it skip the traditional June/E3 window entirely. While we know Ubi has a few games in active development, such as Assassin’s Creed Infinity, The Division Heartland, and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, why rush to build demos or configure information fit for public consumption in June when the publisher can simply wait and reveal these experiences on its own terms?
There are rumors that Microsoft is currently in talks with its partners to run an E3-style showcase in 2022, so perhaps that’s where we’ll see publishers like 2K Games, Activision, Square Enix, and Warner Bros. (all of whom are yet to say a word about E3 2022) make an appearance. Meanwhile, the ESA is yet to definitively say that it is running a digital E3 2022 event of its own, so it could be left to Xbox and Bethesda, the Future Games Show, Summer Games Fest, and other outliers to maintain the June tradition of smothering players with as many announcements as the industry can muster.
Truth be told, EA Play Live is the first to go but it won’t be the last. And with fewer games targeting the autumn release window – the last three months have been a blur of AAA releases – perhaps a giant June showcase just doesn’t make sense anymore. GamesRadar+ will keep you up to date with E3 2022 news as it happens, but just don’t get your hopes up for something massive this year.