The game industryâ€™s mega-show has turned over a new leaf. That may not be a bad thing.
Every May, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, has brought droves of media and fans to the Los Angeles Convention Center, seeking previews of the latest games and hands-on fun with the hottest hardware. But enthusiasts waiting for next yearâ€™s event could find May the start of a long summer.
E3's parent, the Entertainment Software Association, announced plans on Monday to downsize the popular event. Gone may be the days of pounding music, larger-than-life displays, and seemingly miles of massive exhibits from the biggest names in gaming.
Instead, expect a more intimate environment focused on personalized meetings and activities, the association of the industryâ€™s biggest companies announced. The large trade show environment of previous years is making way for higher quality, more personal dialogue according to the president of ESA, Douglas Lowenstein.
The world of interactive entertainment has changed since E3Expo was created 12 years ago, said ESA's cheif. It is no longer necessary or efficient to have a single industry 'mega-show.'
Though fans may long for the days of E3's past, companies can't wait for the future.
A Bittersweet Goodbye
Glitter and glamour made E3 one of the most-talked about shows during its twelve year run. Not everyone is excited to see the exuberance go. The pre-2007 E3 was really awesome, Derek Needleman, President of game development firm AND Entertainment reminisces. The spectacle of it all was incredible.
But experts contend that developers and publishers were not seeing the payback they needed to justify the costly show. Had the ESA not reacted, participants would have left and E3 may have died all together.
While E3 was a massive show, with bells and whistles, and a lot of games to go and check out, the [returns] given the money they were paying, this wasnâ€™t there, said Rob Enderle, Principle Analyst for the Enderle Group.
With the industry driven into a slump as consumers hold off purchases in order to get next-gen consoles, and with a lack of hit titles surfacing, it is becoming an increasingly difficult case to argue for spending. P.J. McNealy of American Technology Research estimates that shows can cost companies anywhere from $5 million to $20 million per event.
Developers are being more prudent, he says. The nature of the industry right now [is] folks are being much more self-controlled.
For Your Eyes Only
The move will not only save companiesâ€™ money in the long run, it will save them time. ESA's Lownstein said Tuesday that the new show would only be open to those invited - meaning game lovers and tech-bloggers will be have to read about it in the papers.
This works well for the publishers, however. The reason these shows were created are to connect the company with the media directly Enderle explains. The invite-only stipulation solidifies this, putting the company only in front of people they need to talk to.
The new event ensures more effective and efficient ways for companies to get information to media, consumers, and others,â€ said Lowenstein. Even AND Entertainment's Needlmen admits this wasnâ€™t easy before.
It was getting more and more crowded, he said. I called it Disneyland because you have to wait forever just to do anything.