After the cancellation of E3 in 2020 and the move to an online-only event in 2021, the gaming world was thrilled when E3 announced plans to return to an in-person format in 2022. Unfortunately, due to growing COVID-related concerns, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced in late March that E3 2022 in Los Angeles is no longer happening, and there will be no online version. A statement issued by the ESA to IGN reads:
We will devote all our energy and resources to delivering a revitalized physical and digital E3 experience next summer. Whether enjoyed from the show floor or your favorite devices, the 2023 showcase will bring the community, media, and industry back together in an all-new format and interactive experience. We look forward to presenting E3 to fans around the world live from Los Angeles in 2023.
This news, while understandable, is very disappointing. Even those of us who weren’t going to attend in-person were looking forward to keeping an eye on the latest news and buzz. Oh well — let’s hope that E3 returns next year and is bigger and better than ever. In the meantime, to cheer up all of my fellow gamers, I thought it would be fun to do some digging and highlight five upcoming things us gamers can get excited about.
DreamHack Is Coming to Melbourne
E3 2022 may be taking a break this year, but (at least for now) DreamHack is still on and will be taking over Melbourne from September 2-4, 2022.
For those unfamiliar with this event, DreamHack is an immersive gaming experience that hosts high-calibre sports tournaments, video game events, and exhibitions. If you can’t head “down under” to experience DreamHack, don’t be disheartened. You can follow the event online, and participate in the official DreamHack Discord channel (there are already nearly 200,000 members!).
Fortnite Offers Battle Royale or No-Building Option + Ukraine Humanitarian Aid
There are two positive stories about Fortnite. The first is that in an update to the game in early April, Epic Games re-enabled the default battle royale playlist, complete with the building options that many players are familiar with. However, if you’re among those who prefer to enjoy Fortnite without all of the building, then relax: the Zero Build mode is still available!
Now for the other Fortnite-related story, which is, for obvious reasons, MUCH more important: On March 21, Epic Games announced that until April 3 it would donate 100 percent of the proceeds from in-game sales (including virtual currency and cosmetic in-game purchases) to aid humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. During that 14-day span, a whopping $144 million USD was raised. Way to go Epic Games!
Get Ready for Unreal Engine 5
Here is some more good news from Epic Games: In early April, the company showcased Unreal Engine 5 (UE5). This is the engine’s first major update in eight years. To show off the depth of the new UE5, Epic Games plans on releasing the entire city from the Matrix demo, so that developers can build games and experiences on top of it. As noted by TIME:
The world will be populated by 20,000 metahumans driving cars and walking around the city streets, with each block rendered in vivid detail, down to each leaf and brick. Epic hopes this release shows the possibility of Unreal Engine’s metaverse capabilities, in which high definition, large-scale worlds can be built easily. Another new update, World Partition, breaks down enormous maps into parcels that are manageable for a regular gamer to play without an expensive rig.
For a closer look at UE5, check out the website — and get ready to be amazed!
PlayStation Subscription Services Updated
After much anticipation, in late March Sony shared details about what has been dubbed “Project Spartacus,” which is a new subscription service designed to rival Xbox Game Pass.
The new service – called PS Plus – is expected to launch in June 2022. It is composed of three tiers: PS Plus Essentials, PS Plus Extra, and PS Plus Premium. Basically, PS Plus Essentials will be very similar to the current PS Plus offering. PS Plus Extra will feature a library of more than 400 PS4 and PS5 games. And PS Plus Premium (which unsurprisingly will be the most expensive option) will include the PS4 and PS5 games included with PS Plus Extra, as well as a huge library of PS1, PS2, and PSP games.
Also, TheGamer.com reports that there may be yet another tier made available in the near future called PS Plus Deluxe. This tier will offer something between PS Plus Premium and PS Plus Extra (essentially PS Plus Premium without the streaming elements), and will only be available to subscribers in certain countries.
However, while this is great news, there is one detail that may diminish some of the enthusiasm: Unlike Xbox Game Pass, new games will not be added to the new PlayStation subscription service. This means that anyone who wants to play a new title immediately will have to buy it separately, even if they already have a subscription to the top-of-the-line PS Plus Premium tier.
Riot Games Pushes for Greater Inclusion in eSports
In an effort to make the eSports landscape more open and inclusive, Riot Games — the publishers of the globally-popular free-to-play first-person hero shooter VALORANT — launched the VCT Game Changers program.
Introduced in the spring of 2021, VCT Game Changers supplements the eSports competitive season by creating new opportunities and exposure for women and other marginalized genders within VALORANT eSports.
Since September 2021, four major Game Changers EMEA tournaments have been produced, with almost 60 top teams taking part. The first Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Game Changers EMEA Series had a peak viewership of 22,000 people and over 189,000 hours watched. Commented Vera Wienken, senior brand manager and VCT Game Changers EMEA lead for Riot Games: “I couldn't be more proud about our first achievements. It's awesome seeing these women competing on such a high level and vocalising their dedication and positive feedback publicly.” Learn more about this amazing program on the VCT Game Changers website.
What’s Your View?
Are you excited about any of these developments? Or is there something else in the gaming world that has captured your interest? Please comment below. And don’t worry if your boss catches you writing about video games — just mention that research suggests playing video games can make you smarter!