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E3 Is No More: After the Shock
posted by: Aaron Stanton
date posted: 01:40 AM Thu Aug 3rd, 2006
last revision: 12:09 PM Sun Aug 6th, 2006

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Click to read.By now you\'ve probably heard the news. Several days ago, Next-gen.biz published a story that announced the demise of the Electronic Entertainment Exposition, the largest game exposition the industry has ever known. After a number of follow-up stories on other well known gaming sites, it\'s now official: E3expo.com has been updated to confirm that E3 2007 will be nothing like E3 of the past.

What was once a huge event with over 70,000 in attendance has been shrunk to somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 attendees, moved, and renamed to E3 Media Festival.

From E3expo.com:

\"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 Douglas Lowenstein, President of the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers and the owner of E3Expo. \"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.\"

What does this mean for the industry? For one, it means that information will now come in much smaller chunks. Before, companies tended to stockpile their large announcements for the May event, and then open the gates all at once in a flood of information. Without a single industry unifying event, major information will come out through company specific venues, like the Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo events held by each individual company at different times and different locations.

What\'s more, it means that another event will soon rise to take E3\'s throne. The Game Developer Conference seems to be a reasonable bet, since it\'s an already established and respected conference. However, its focus is entirely different, and certainly isn\'t designed to appeal to the general public the way that E3 did. The Penny-Arcade Exposition seems far more accessible to the general public, and already aims to celebrate the game culture at its core. Though it\'s only been running for a few short years, PAX claims an attendance record of over 15,000, making it the largest game-only event around.

Of course, many in the game industry don\'t want there to be another E3. For years, E3 attendees have complained that E3 was far too lenient in their admission policies, allowing in people with only vague connections to the industry. As a result, it became extremely difficult to spend quality time with any one game on the show floor. On the upside, the sheer quantity of games on the floor made accidental discoveries an almost sure thing. All you had to do was wander around for a while until a PR guy managed to hit you on the head with something mildly painful. That, and maybe the random celebrity appearances and interviews, are all I\'ll really miss from the show itself.

Last year, I remember talking to another journalist. \"Have you ever been to PAX?\" he asked. \"It\'s like if you pulled the heart out of E3 and put it in Seattle.\" Which is a complete lie really... PAX is in Bellevue, not Seattle. That\'s a full 30 minutes difference. That aside, I\'ve heard similar sentiments about GDC, that if you really want to get something done, E3 isn\'t the place to do it.

For their part, the Penny-Arcade guys seem well aware of both the flaws and benefits of E3, and are probably more than just a little tepid about how the change will affect them.

From a Penny-Arcade Post:

Now E3, at least as we know it is gone but the focus of PAX has not changed. PAX is about gamers not publishers and geek culture instead of multi-million dollar business deals. We have no desire to turn PAX into a new E3 so don\'t worry about that.

I don\'t think anyone is realistically interested in a return of the exact circumstances that lead to E3\'s demise. It became both bloated and difficult to navigate in terms of actually getting work done. I know at least a few people that are now terrified that the intimate, specific focus of GDC might drift in the direction of E3. The event was a unifying, energizing event for the entire industry, but it was not the perfect solution. Come May next year, it\'ll seem weird to send a smaller crew in favor of other expositions, but there\'s no doubt the industry will adjust.

Here at GamesFirst, I think we\'ll miss the unifying element. Based out of two offices on opposite sides of the country, East and West, there are members of our crew that work together online on a daily basis, but never see each other outside of the annual E3 event.

We\'ll miss being reminded of how cool the people we work with really are.

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