The Entertainment Software Association is shifting the Electronic Entertainment Expo to an online-only event out of concerns around the pandemic.

“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 to GamesBeat. “We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon.”

That means the show will likely take place online this summer for the second year in a row, as COVID-19 concerns pushed the June 2021 show into an online-only event and scuttled the 2020 event entirely. Asked to clarify if there will be an online event, the ESA said it is “excited about the possibilities of an online event.”

The ESA, a trade group led by the game industry’s publishers, is evidently being cautious because of the huge burst in coronavirus infections prompted by the Omicron variant. The CES 2022 tech trade show — which is taking place in Las Vegas this week — has caught a lot of criticism for going forward with its in-person event despite the risks of being a “superspreader” event.

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While E3 is still months away and the current spike could be over by that time, the organization is in the midst of signing up companies to take exhibition space, as it often takes months for companies to pull their booths together for the big show, which in normal times draws more than 50,000 industry people and 15,000 fans in-person to the Los Angeles Convention Center every June.

Meanwhile, the Game Developers Conference is scheduled for in-person on March 21 to March 25. In an email, the GDC said it plans to move forward at this time.

Update: 1/6/22 at 12:56 p.m. Pacific time: Updated with the modified statement.

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