What to expect from next week's E3

Now that Apple has a successful gaming platform with the iPhone and iPod touch, software designed to run on it will take center stage at next week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). E3 runs from June 2-4 in Los Angeles, Calif., and there will be plenty of announcements and products to show.

The iPhone and iPod touch have both been phenomenal successes, especially since the debut of the App Store less than a year ago. Games have a lot to do with that. Independent developers and big publishers alike have been drawn to the App Store ecosystem with offerings for the platform, and in the weeks leading up to E3 many of those companies have been clamoring for a piece of our attention at the show.

E3 was once famous for its spectacle: It took up every square inch of the mammoth Los Angeles Convention Center and was the source of countless parties and stories of gonzo trade show behavior. But after the conclusion of 2006’s E3, pressure from some of the show’s biggest participants—companies that dropped millions into impressing the gathered throngs—forced the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to bifurcate E3 into two lackluster events. Thus was born the E3 Media and Business Summit, an insider’s confab open only to the game industry, press and analysts, and E For All Expo, a well-meant but small event open to the general public.

Neither event captured much public interest. Realizing it had killed the goose that laid the golden egg, the ESA went back to the “old” way of doing things. And it comes at an ideal time for Apple, which isn’t exhibiting at next week’s show but is sure to make its presence felt regardless. The renewed E3, combined with the heat and light cast by App Store games, should be a unique opportunity for the iPhone and iPod touch to shine.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that the ESA hired IDG World Expo to manage the event. It’s a sister business unit of Macworld’s that also runs Macworld Expo.)

I’ll be manning the controls from my office while our man on the ground, Chris Barylick, will be running himself ragged at E3, so please make sure to join us next week for details.

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