ESA Announces Changes to E3: "A More Intimate Event" (Update 2)

By Chris Remo, Jul 31, 2006 11:17am PDT Confirming various online reports made this weekend, the Entertainment Software Association has announced plans to radically alter the format of the annual Electronics Entertainment Expo, the industry's biggest trade show. The new show is described as a "more intimate event focused on targeted, personalized meetings and activities," a phrase that could certainly not be used to describe the current circus-like E3 Expo. According to reputable sources, many major exhibitors and publishers have begun to withdraw support for the costly E3, prompting the ESA to rethink how the show is run.

"The world of interactive entertainment has changed since E3Expo was created 12 years ago. At that time we were focused on establishing the industry and securing orders for the holiday season," said ESA head Douglas Lowenstein. "Over the years, it has become clear that we need a more intimate program, including higher quality, more personal dialogue with the worldwide media, developers, retailers and other key industry audiences." Though it is officially an industry-only trade show, E3 is well known for being attended by many members of the gaming public, due to relatively lax admittance procedures. This year, the ESA indicated it would be applying sterner methods, though it seemed to have little practical effect.

In recent years, platform holders and third party publishers have begun more frequently holding their own press events throughout the year, which, due to smaller game lineups and less need for costly marketing campaigns, are often seen as more appropriate settings for productive game previews and interviews. These events, along with the increasing number of other large expos such as the upcoming Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany and Tokyo Game Show in Tokyo, Japan, have decreased the need for a single all-encompassing industry showcase such as E3, said Lowenstein.

The new event will remain in the city of Los Angeles, though it seems unlikely it will remain in the large Los Angeles Convention Center. The ESA will reveal more details about the event in the coming months.

Update: Next Generation, one of the first sites to break this news this past weekend, has posted a story covering ten reasons why E3 collapsed. Many of them have been covered in news posts here today and yesterday, but there is one particularly interesting claim. According to Next Generation, the presidents of the North American industry's four biggest big shots--Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Electronic Arts--talked the matter over and determined that if they all agreed to pull out of the show together, the impetus behind E3 would fall away.

Update 2: GameSpot has received confirmation from the ESA's Doug Lowenstein that E3 2007 will be held in July rather than the traditional May.

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16 Threads | 52 Comments

  • Well if there's announcements around the year like we had with TeamFortress and Portal, then it won't be such a bad thing. That thing litterally came out of nowhere. I mean, everyone was interested in seeing what the new TF looked like and all we had that first day with brief descriptions of them that sounded far to crazy to be real. THEN later on the screenshots & video's popped up.

    Spacing things out I suppose won't be such a bad thing for big announcements. But for smaller devs, they NEED an E3 for sure if they don't work directly for Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, or EA.

  • What this means, folks, is the big, loud, sweaty, loud, smelly, loud convention center approach to E3 is dead. Completely dead.

    The big players don't want to deal with it's too expensive. It's more efficient to have their own events. Microsoft has an annual XBox-focused event (X05 last year, now it's X06). Toyko Game Show is a huge huge huge thing. 3rd party publishers have their own shows worldwide...Activision has "Activate" and Midway has their own thing, I think. EA, too.

    You don't hear about those things because they're not for the public. They're for retailer buyers first and foremost, and press (sort of).

    E3, long ago, let the public in on certain days. Each badge came with a guest pass that you could give to your girlfriend or best buddy or just hand out on Figueroa Blvd. And it was laughably easy to bullshit your way into a badge. People complained about the crowds, the noise, the inability to "do business" and they tightened it up. Guest passes went bye-bye, and the process of getting passes became much more difficult, even for actual employees of actual companies. It was a pain in the ass. But there were still annoying levels of people who honestly had no business being there (i.e. part time retail employees from

    The crowds got BETTER (i.e. thinner) over the years as they did this. Honestly, last year seemed like a fairly civilized affair. But E3 has always been a pain in the ass for other reasons.

    Developers usually must derail their schedule to put together an "E3 demo" which can take months away from the real game. It often becomes "lost" work - doing a bunch of smoke and mirrors work to get the game playable and presentable before it rightfully should, which gets tossed aside as soon as the dev gets back to making the game.

    One thing E3 was good for was for those rare projects that weren't getting much love from their publisher, that garner a huge buzz and critical acclaim, which can sometimes turn into more attention from buyers (not consumers, buyers - the people who work for Walmart and Best Buy et al. who actually decide how many copies of a game go on store shelves) and give the game a chance. I've seen games go into E3 with only cursory support from a publisher, make a splash, and then suddenly get a lot of love and (surprise) become hit selling games.

    But mostly it was a huge waste of time and money.

    I've demoed games to some of the most powerful buyers in the industry, both on the E3 floor amidst the hubbub, and I've done the same exact demo in a small backroom. Guess which one was a more effective?

    Smaller, more targetted events are a better approach for b2b communications.

    Consumers will not be affected by this much, because E3 has never, ever been about the consumer.

    The press, especially the indies, will get screwed, but as someone up there already mentioned, they've always gotten screwed.

    Developers may hopefully be relieved of having to schedule the dreaded "E3 Demo." (Although the little events around the world will still require demos, so it might end up being WORSE...time will tell.)

    And publishers might be able to strengthen their relationships with retail buyers and get more product in the channel, more marketing support, etc.

  • reposted here from at the request of Remo - a thread about how the shift in focus for E3 '07 will "fuck over independent journalists"

    The fact of the matter is, any journalist worth his/her own salt will be able to get into E3 in some way or another regardless. It's not that hard to get into any trade show and it never will be, because the point of trade shows is for them to be attended by people.

    The true fucking-over of independent journalists at E3 is the way it's currently set up (you know, all the stuff they're trying to get rid of that you're petitioning to keep).

    * Closed door meetings which you need a preexisting PR contact to schedule.
    * Huge booths with not enough public demo stations and fully booked schedules for the private rooms.
    * EB/Gamestop/Gamecrazy employees clogging the lines and sitting there playing BF2142 for 20 minutes while you wait to write a preview.
    * Six hour lines to see a game trailer or rolling demo.
    * Company VPs and VIPs who bring their kids and get bumped to the front of the line.

    These are the things that fuck you over if you're an independent writer for a small site, not getting into the show itself.

    Anyone can get into E3, but once you're inside, if you haven't got a hugely recognizible site name on your badge that Cindy the PR Rep will recognize on sight and/or a managing editor who spent the last year establishing contacts with publishers and getting you set up with meetings to see everything behind closed doors, you will basically see nothing in your week on the show floor.

    Changing E3 to an event more like X05, in which the entire thing is a series of meeting rooms with posted schedules, where if you see an opening in the schedule you can slip in to an unscheduled spot and get a demo, or like GDC where the show floor is calm and (though it's slipping in recent years) focused on learning about the companies and their products more than about their marketing campaigns, it would be extremely good for everyone involved on all sides of the equation.

  • Bring back the G.O.D. Lot! (if they were still around)

    Seriously though, e3 is a grand event that I wish every avid video gamer could attend. You cannot imagine the chaos and the sensory overload that is e3. It's fun to actually play the hottest games 6 months before they're released.

    Top that chaos off with: sneaking into after parties, bull shitting credentials, hiring strippers as 'booth babes', seeing Cliffy B in a gnarly suit in a strip club, and going to korea town to eat.

    I hope this new move will bring about smaller "video game parties" where you can have a more personal conversation with a team member who made the game. I just don't need the Disneyland craziness of lines of emo haircuts and bad anime shirts. Oh yeah, make them 21 and over please and a few cocktails would be fine with me.