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E3 Closes... Long Live E3

Company: ESA
Product: E3 2013 / E3 2014

As I sit here and report on the the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo based on press releases, I read that 48,200 videogame industry professionals, investor analysts, journalists, and retailers from 102 countries attended this week's E3, according to the ESA. That may sound like a large number of people, but it's actually far fewer than the 70,000 E3 had in 2005.

Over the recent years, E3 has suffered from lackluster organization and poor communication, resulting in confusion and disappointment from developers and media, alike. The lowest point has to be the E3 Media Summits of 2007 and 2008, where an attempt was made to redefine E3, resulting in the two years with the smallest attendance (5,000 and 10,000, respectively) and spreading the event across several blocks, leading many in the industry to worry about the future of the event...

"It almost feels like a zombie at this point; it's the walking dead. It's such an abrupt end to what was E3, which had been this huge escalating arms race....Right now we're in this kind of dicey, do we have an event, what event is it, which one do we go to? I think we're in an uncomfortable transition zone when really the real E3 died a couple of years ago."
- Will Wright, speaking of the 2007 E3 Media Summit[-Kotaku]

"I hope that my E3 will return next year."
- Hideo Kojima (In English), Speaking at the 2007 E3 Media Summit

However, even though the attendance this year was only about 68% of its highpoint in 2005, it looks like E3 may be working its way back to its former glory. Attendance is up over last year; in fact, this year's attendance is the highest it has since the fumbled attempt at redefining the event as a "media summit."

"This year's E3 showcased the best that our industry has to offer and channeled the immense energy, drive, and enthusiasm for video games onto a global stage. Thanks to our members and exhibitors' boundless capacity for innovation, billions of consumers are seeing the future of our industry through this outstanding landscape of creativity, technology and content."
- Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA

I can't speak to the number of exhibitors, but I can tell you, first-hand, that there could be many more members of the press attending and providing more coverage, if the media passes were handled better. While it's true that we didn't get approved for media passes this year, I've also heard through friends in the media that many were not approved for media passes - including someone with a television show. In the past few years, the company organizing the media passes has been slow to respond and quite confusing when they do respond. Game Vortex has been around for fourteen years, yet we were denied media passes, citing that we had to be in existence for at least 6 months. Last year, we did receive one media pass, but, although we had applied six months before E3 2012, we received notification of our one approved media pass a mere two weeks before the show. Given that we're based in Louisiana, half a country away from Los Angeles, we weren't able to send someone last year, either. (Ever attempted to book airfare and accommodations two weeks before a large event? It's not pretty... or cheap.) Per a press release, E3 2013 resulted in an estimated 28,000 total hotel room nights. Try to book a hotel room close to L.A.C.C. during E3 with that many hotel rooms booked, and I don't want to know how far away you'd have to stay. Besides, even if our office was across from the L.A.C.C., at two weeks before the show, all appointments have been scheduled. It would be impossible to schedule a meeting with anyone on such short notice.

Personally, I've always viewed E3 as a way to facilitate interaction between those who make games, those who sell games and the public (via the media). While I realize that everything costs money - especially huge convention centers - I've never really considered how the E3 Expo makes money, above and beyond admission and booth costs. It appears that E3 may be striving to become more profitable, finding ways to cut costs here and there (such as approving fewer media passes) and finding more sources of revenue at the show, such as via their VIP Retailer Program - and elite service that reportedly provided 390 buyers with premium services, such as concierge, travel and hosting. Of course, the city that hosts such an event always stands to make money, from the sheer influx of people. This year, it is estimated that E3 generated nearly $40 million in revenue for the city of Los Angeles.

ESA has revealed that E3 2014 will occur June 10-12, 2014, in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Convention Center. As someone who first experienced E3 the last time it took place in Atlanta (no- for real) and someone who experienced the sad, disjointed E3 Media Summit debacle in Santa Monica, marched in Gamecock's E3 Funeral Parade and shared Will Wright's fear that our dear old friend, E3, had died at that time, I sincerely hope that the event is much better organized next year.

If so, I hope to bring you live coverage of next year's big show.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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