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Major computer and video game events struggle to return to "face-to-face" events
While the health situation seems to be getting better almost everywhere in the world, the question of returning to major events arises.
In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic struck Europe and the United States on a massive scale, whereas it had previously seemed to concern mainly China. To try to contain the disease, confinements were decreed all over the world, travel was limited to "imperative necessities" and it was no longer possible to gather thousands of people for any event. As a result, the world's largest trade shows dedicated to technological innovations or video games were, one after the other, cancelled.
Wave after wave, variant after variant, the health situation has evolved in a chaotic way throughout the years 2020 and 2021 until the beginning of 2022. Recently, there has been a noticeable improvement in the situation, even in the countries most affected by the December/January outbreaks. However, the organizers of the world's main trade fairs are generally rather cautious and even the events organized / dedicated to certain brands are on hold.
For example, at the beginning of January, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which brings together the heads of American video game publishers, indicated that its Los Angeles trade show - the famous E3 - will be an exclusively online event again this year. What was not long ago the preferred meeting place for all the players in the video game world is struggling to convert to remote and is suffering from competition from other events such as Summer Game Fest, to the point where some believe that it may never take place again, either in person or remotely.
For Microsoft, there doesn't seem to be any question of such a setback, but not all of the American firm's events seem to be ready to abandon the "all digital" approach. For example, Microsoft has confirmed that its Inspire event scheduled for July 12 and 13 will only be online with conferences organized exclusively via the brand's remote tools. Microsoft has not yet clarified the situation of the BUILD 2022 conference that it intends for developers, but it is quite possible that it will suffer the same fate.
Later this year, GamesCom - a German trade show dedicated to video games - could rely on even fewer sanitary measures to organize a trade show with a very large audience. However, its organizers have confirmed that a "hybrid" event will be held. The details of the operation have yet to be clarified, but from the first information, it appears that visitors will have access to the Kœlnmesse while many animations will be planned online and that some aspects - more professional? - of the event will only be remote.
Finally, while there are still many uncertainties for many other events, especially in Asia, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona - the first major event to be canceled because of the pandemic, in early 2020 - should open its doors from February 28 in an "almost normal" way. Its organizers said they expect between 40,000 and 60,000 visitors from 150 countries, nearly three times as many as in 2021 with a half-hearted event. This is still well below the 2019 edition, but proves that the "return to normal" seems to have begun. Let's keep in mind that the rules of entry will be drastic with mandatory FFP2 mask in the aisles of the show and presentation of a certification of vaccination / cure of Covid-19.