This past August the Electronic Software Association announced plans to downsize the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), its annual gathering of computer and video game developers and hardware makers. Now the company has offered the first details about what’s to replace it.
The ESA is calling the new show the “E3 Media and Business Summit,” and it will take place from July 11 – 13, 2007 in Santa Monica, Calif. It will be an invitation-only affair held in premier hotel suites and meeting rooms, for media, retailers, developer partners and “other audiences.” The nearby Barker Hangar will serve as a “software showcase” where attendees will be able to get their hands on games.
E3 had become the premier annual event which those in the games industry used to showcase their wares for the upcoming holiday season, or, in some cases, that they planned for the next few years. It had grown to extravagant proportions, taking up every square inch of exhibit space in the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center, and virtually taking over downtown Los Angeles for a week every May.
Although it was billed as an industry-only event with an attendance that was supposed to be restricted only to those in the video and computer games industry, earnest game enthusiasts thought nothing of paying high admission fees to gain entrance to the show so they could get their hands on games they’d only read about in magazines or Web sites. Attendance swelled to almost 80,000 visitors during the show’s three day run.
Small and large vendors alike were forced to pay ever-increasing sums in order to gain some level of mindshare at the event, paying fees to put their logos on everything from wristbands used by shuttle bus goers to advertisements on the risers of staircases at the convention center, sponsoring parties, cocktail receptions and other gatherings, and more. Many companies began to question the huge marketing budgets they were paying to exhibit at E3 and executives wondered if they were getting their money’s worth.
By restricting attendance to invitation only, the ESA will be able to better control and qualify who shows up, satisfying their vendors’ desire to get their money’s worth.
“The new E3 is first and foremost about getting business done,” said ESA President Douglas Lowenstein in a statement. “When we asked key audiences what they wanted in the new event, we heard that they wanted opportunities for high-level meetings in a business-like setting, to play games, network, and socialize, to see major company offerings while also preserving the sense of discovery that is so much a part of E3, and to hear substantive presentations on the most important issues and trends facing the industry.”
Members of the ESA itself have always been the core of E3’s business, but the new event won’t be restricted just to them. While attendance will be by invitation only, “Companies involved in console, PC, online, and mobile game publishing and developing, as well as makers of video game hardware and peripherals will be eligible to participate.”