E3 2022 has been pushed to an online-only event this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has reached a new height of spread thanks to the Omicron variant. Fans and press alike hoped that this wouldn’t be the case, but life has taken another path. The ESA had originally planned to bring back E3 as an in-person conference in 2022, announcing last year that “the ESA looks forward to coming back together to celebrate E3 2022 in person.” But with this new announcement, those plans have been dashed.
A report by Venturebeat confirms that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) will not be bringing the event back to in-person this year. “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,” the ESA said in a statement via Venturebeat. “We are nonetheless excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”
This is not the only bad news for the ESA in recent years. A huge data leak revealed the personal details of thousands of industry insiders and press a while back. That and many other poor moves by E3 damaged its reputation quite a bit. But some still might be wondering why they made this call, so let’s break it down.
This new novel coronavirus variant is much more infectious, and it’s likely a big reason why the ESA made this call. Let’s run a little thought experiment to explain why. There is a new study from Ontario, Canada, that found the risk of hospitalization or death was 65% lower among people infected with Omicron compared with individuals who caught Delta. And with Omicron directly traced to events like Anime NYC, this was the right call.
If Delta—the previously dominant variant—infected 20 million people, and if we assume a combined 10% hospitalization and death rate, then that means 2 million people could become seriously ill. Omicron has a lower severity, according to early data, but will more easily spread. If we assume an 8% severity rate, then an infection spread of 40 million people would result in 3.2 severe cases.
A lot of this increased infectiousness is owed to the many mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron variant. Omicron infections recently set a new record of more than 1 million new cases in the United States. This is directly due to the mass wave of anti-vaccine and anti-science misinformation spreading online. People refusing to get vaccinated directly allowed COVID-19 to spread and mutate, compromising the safety of those that are already vaccinated. Adding to that, a new Ihu variant has now been detected in the EU, with even more mutations.