E3 2007 Canceled; Restructuring, New Date, and New Name?

As WorldSims is involved with the interactive entertainment industry, I felt it best that I voice a few comments as well to the change here. WorldSims itself isn’t a big entity or press, but being able to participate at E3 for the last three years has given me the opportunity to glance into the world where many dream to enter, but few can get in.

I certainly do applaud the decision to try to make changes; however, it is my belief that some of the proposed changes will undoubtly hurt the gaming industry in the long run. We must first ask ourselves: "What is E3?" The general response is ‘It’s where the gaming industry shows off their newest games’. Officially its function has been a place where buyers and retailers gather to meet publishers, who then show off their games in hopes to drive interest to get them to take inventory and buy.

However, we look today, E3 has evolved far beyond the buying portion of the industry. It’s become a media spectacle. Add the internet to it, and well, the internet fans E3 into a giant fiery event of where fans and gamers gather to find what to expect in the coming year of gaming, and perhaps invest their own money into it. Fans run through various gaming news sites like IGN and Gamespot and pounce on the coverage like a kid in a candy store.

But we must remember, E3 is not open to the public. Its sole existence has been for videogame developers, publishers, press and retailers. However in recent years, pawning of badges has become an ever increasing issue, people printing up fake business cards to gain entrance. Simply put it, people want in and would go to extraordinary measures to get in.

My first criticism would be the date of E3. You can move the show to July, August or September or any other month for that matter. The reality is no matter when you move the date; the gaming industry has been historically one of the most unreliable industries in meeting deadlines. Go back to some of your favorite games. A good percentage have suffered delays pushing back release dates, and the percentage is still growing. A certain game, which I will not mention, has been delayed indefinitely, and fans are crying foul after its successful debut in the early 90s.

My next criticism would be the restricting of attendance. This would limit many of the smaller publications like myself and give unequal footing to major media. Already major media like Gamespot and IGN get to participate at exclusive media only events that some of the major gaming industries host each year (ie. EA’s Hot Summer Nights). This uneven balance would no doubt put fansites and even smaller press at a disadvantage. E3 was one arena where fansites and smaller media have even ground with the bigger media.

But the call for a closer, more intimate setting is most definitely needed. But a secondary issue not mentioned is also the amount of stress developers puts up with every time at E3. Eggzie, Rosana, Cheetah, two core members of my admin team, as well as myself attended E3. While we do know a good deal of Maxoids, the fast pace and limited time left absolutely no time for us to sit down with the Maxoids to get a more depth discussion about the inner workings of everything. Granted, we all did get an inside look at Spore, and even hands on time, it was pretty limited and as soon as we were done, we had to leave sooner than we’d like as another group had to run in for their appointment. Granting us the more intimate time setting would allow time to have fun, discuss things at length with each Maxoid. Another example I can think of during E3 was the demo time we sat down with Will. We didn’t exactly have time to say hi even, and barely a few seconds to say hello to Lucy Bradshaw and other members of the team.

The intimacy time also relates to one additional factor, the stress factor. With the madness to get to each member of the press, and scheduled appointments, it’s caused developers to fall under a huge amount of strain. An example would be Will Wright. From day one, he demoed the game, and it was back to back every day him demoing the game. From one group of media to celebrities like Robin Williams and Steven Spielberg, it’s a lot of stress with minimal sleep time and constantly moving back and forth. And this is with people switching with you too so you can get a break to rest your voice, get something to eat! In the end, poor Will lost his voice because he demoed so frequently! He continued to demo Spore right down to the wire and several minutes AFTER E3 officially ended.

I would argue that E3 is too short. Three days of nonstop action puts a lot of strain on developers and the stress is catching up to them. The call for a more intimate setting would allow developers to be in a more relaxed setting, and ultimately giving them space and time to breathe, and even relax. The fast pace fury of E3 today has definitely raise the blood pressure of more than one developer and members of the media.

My ideal E3 would not be three days, but several days in length, possibly ten days. You must be thinking WHOA. No not really. The first several days would be restricted as how it is, restricting to members of the industry, developers, the press, retailers, and publishers. Since space is restricted, more intimate time is allocated during the early parts of the show and it generally allows more freedom and less stress.

Press wouldn’t be rushing and developers wouldn’t need to take appointments back to back (literally). The final three days would be a somewhat price paid admission, limited, general showcasing. Developers I believe shouldn’t need to work on these days, and could use the time to take off, peruse Los Angeles, or just sleep it in if they want to. Certainly they can pop in, but the general admission is to allow your average Joe to be part of E3.

Extended time is what I’m calling for here, and I think it should be given some consideration. Rushing limits the amount of intimacy. No matter what ESA says, there’s one thing better than the press and that’s the word of mouth.

Of course, rules needs to be in places on who enters in general admission. It’s for a fact that COMDEX collapsed because of its policy letting anybody in. But I think the gaming industry is different. It thrives on the word and excitement of others. It feeds on it, and grows on it. Games don’t become popular because you read a review on some hot shot media site. It becomes popular because people can’t stop talking about it, creating the buzz and the spark the interest of others to buy the game and play it.

You still need that general admission point, but at the same time, the event still needs to be roped off to allow breathing room for developers. It would be one of the many policies I would argue that needs to evolve. I would say ESA needs to reexamine its scheduling. Three days of action is great, but when it becomes non-stop action, it becomes tedious, stressful and hectic. Allowing more time to conduct business would benefit everyone, and perhaps even opening the event up even for ONE day would continue to spur the growth of the industry.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this as well. Post your feedback.

About ManagerJosh