Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi covers the videogame industry for Local Tech Wire and writes the Gaming Guru blog for WRAL.com. He also writes for Wired and other national game industry publications.
RALEIGH, N.C. — After two straight revamps of its annual , it looks like the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is at it again with more changes, but going bigger rather than smaller.
The ESA finally confirmed that next year’s show will be held June 2-4 at the LA Convention Center. While this is where the scaled-down show was held this July, the ESA will increase everything from the size of the exhibit booths to the number of attendees and the number of exhibitors. As a result, the new show will be larger than this year’s show, but smaller than the E3 of 2006.
This year’s E3 was minuscule, and walking through the halls was literally a ghost town. It was just two years ago that 60,000 people crammed the two convention halls – down from more than 70,000 the previous year. (The ESA cut out a lot of the fanboy sites to unclog booth space.)
Since some of the bigger publishers, including Sony and Electronic Arts, complained about the show being too big and too expensive, the ESA toned down the show for 2007 and held it throughout hotel suites in Santa Monica, as well as in an airport hangar to which most people (including myself) never got.
After plenty of complaints, the show returned to E3 in a seriously scaled-down capacity this year. This time, EA and other companies complained that the show was too small and a waste of time. If this is starting to sound like the old "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" tale, you’re onto something. So now, according to stories that include unnamed sources, the show will become bigger than last year — but not as big as the old E3.
One of the rumors that Newsweek and VentureBeat floated was that the new show would be open to the public on June 5-6. So far, that’s not the case. The ESA has said a larger group of game professionals will be attending the 2009 show, but no mention of the public was given.
I don’t think they’ll go this route, simply because IDG, which runs both E3 and E for All, continues to try to draw the paying public to the E for All event in October. That said, if E for All dies, then it would open the door for a combo E3/E for All show next year. I’ve never been to E for All, but I’ve heard it’s a pretty big waste of time.
I called a few LA hotels on Oct. 21 and heard that they had received dozens of calls from people reserving rooms for E3 based on the Internet rumors. I booked my room, and although the ESA made their announcement a day late, I’m locked in for the correct dates.
One of the many gripes about the old E3 was that May was too early to show decent builds of games. Hence, July was chosen. But this year, E3 and Comic-Con were back-to-back. A move to June would allow for some space between these shows, especially since Comic-Con is so huge today. And more game companies are taking advantage of the August Leipzig Games Convention in Germany, which would also give some breathing room for companies involved in a June E3.
The bottom line is that E3 is broken and the ESA is trying to fix it. It’s likely that 2009 is the last chance to get it right. I know a lot of people weren’t happy about this year’s show or last year’s show. And with the World Series upon us, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Of course, the big question on male gamers’ minds is whether booth babes will make a return. Only the ESA knows. They didn’t mention booth babes in their press release.