The New E3... Turning Gaming Into Even More of a Boys Club?

That’s the impression I got from this new E3. It made it even more “exclusive” than it was in years past and seems to actually have dulled the mainstream press interest in the industry, thus turning gaming into even more of an exclusive nerd club.

I’m curious what those who attended this year think of how it went. Was anyone from Qt3 there? What did you think?

I think the mainstream press presence was just fine. Without new systems coming out this year, nobody expected the news of the show to be as big as the last two years, so there were probably fewer outlets even interested in going no matter what the format was.

It also depends on what mainstream media you care about being there. The new show might not have drawn Spike TV coverage, but it’s not like Seth Schiesel and N’Gai Croal were going to stay away from the show. And Reuters was right on top of Sony’s botched 60GB discontinued story. I’m sure the AP had someone there to cover things as well, and in some ways, that’s really all the bases the industry needs covered to make sure its news gets out there each year.

The problem with this year is that there just wasn’t too much news, and without the circus atmosphere of the old show, there’s no real fall-back story for mainstream outlets to go to, no guaranteed clips of huge crowds, booth babes, and flashy exhibits.

So yes, there was probably less mainstream press attention for the show. But I don’t think it’s a big loss to drop the fringe coverage of that one big story in the mainstream press when we’ve got so much more likely on the way with the launches of Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto 4, and Wii Fit.

did they WANT more mainstream press coverage? especially when such coverage tended towards “yup, E3, videogames celebrate sex and violence, here’s a clip of bikini clad girl a. and bloodthirsty shooter b. as sony, nintendo and microsoft continue to turn your kids into serial killers”

The only lack of coverage I don’t see is the usual stuff channels like CNN would do just covering the spectacle of the event on the main floors. Showing off the thousands of people packed in with all the lights and loud music.

News of Wii fit seems to have gotten out. A woman in marketing at my company was aware of it, and she’s not a gamer.

The new E3 did seem a lot quieter and less important to the industry than the old show, from my vantage point of a non-attendee reading about it.

It’s different this year given how software-driven this conference was. Last year, random non-gamer co-workers were all aflutter over the Wii and the $599 PS3 price tag. Headlines were abuzz with the consoles preparing for Winter consumer assault, big news that got proper exposure. This year not a soul even registered E3 was happening during the week.

I have overheard several random public conversations talking about the $100 PS3 price-drop though, but that’s the extent of it.

There seems to have been far less software to drive the show this year, too. The small publishers and the indies were locked out, and that always represented a significant portion of the press coverage of the show, and also was the source of many games we hadn’t previously read about. The new E3 is just smaller and less interesting. I don’t think there’s any way to spin it differently.

The problem with this year’s E3 is that everyone seemed to have planned their year’s events as though it wasn’t going to be there. Half of my appointments at this year’s show were just restating things I’d already learned or seen at GDC, with only a few exceptions.

Overall, though, I liked it much better than previous years’ show. It was more relaxing, more productive, and less frustrating, save the occasional problem with the shuttle bus.

From my perspective at a publisher, I vastly prefer this format. The whole nature of it was less assaultative on the senses and it made it easier to get quality time with the media we wanted to talk to.

I understand the issue of the various venues being too far apart. That can and should be fixed. We should be in a single huge convention center, but keep the limited space. Also, with a larger, single space, we could combine the meeting rooms and the hands-on playable parts and get rid of Barker Hanger, which was a ghost town mainly because of its remote location.

I really liked that the games that broke through did so not because their publishers spent millions on huge screens and pumped the decibels. They broke through because they deserved it.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better than I thought it would be, and getting it right shouldn’t be too difficult for next year.

Well, the death of E3 as THE hype-machine of the year is going to take a while to reverberate through the industry. The new hype-machines are all lining up to take over the mantle and it may take a couple of years before we all figure out which one gets the crown.

I asked about 30 different attendees what they thought, and the answer was always the same:

The smaller format is much better. No fighting fanboys and E3 managers and really anyone who really really wants to go to E3 but doesn’t belong there, just to get to your next appointment. But this year’s E3 was kind of a mess how it was spread out over too many hotels that weren’t exactly right next to each other. WAAAY too much time spent in transit.

So smaller is good, but they need to have it all in one place.

Almost every publisher and developer I spoke to thought it was actually better this way. More impactful, they said. Better access to the people they are trying to talk to anyway. The days of “look, we’re a big industry! really!” are over…we don’t need that anymore. Developers and publishers seemed to love how they had a much easier time going from hotel to their “at the meeting room all day doing demos” spot, since they were almost always in the same spot. And they could actually just run into press and business people that matter to them, instead of getting held up by random pasty-faced game fans.

I’d have to say the coordination of getting journalists around is probably the biggest sticking point; I think we got stuck in our own hotel which meant it was immediately out of the way from everyone else. This part of it has to be done better somehow.

— Alan

Having been there all week, I’d agree with Jason and Menzo. Better overall, some things to fix. I thought it was going to be an absolute disaster so I was sort of surprised when at the end of the week I find myself admitting it was considerably better (except for the social scene, which was far worse because there were very few large events where you’d knew the people you wanted to see would be hanging out… everyone was very spread out).

Personally, I tried to not book many appointments and still wound up getting more actual business done than in prior years.

But if there isn’t any mainstream attention then what’s the point of having a big trade show anyway? You say that with the new E3 you had better access to demos and their creators. But wouldn’t you have even better access if there was no show in the first place but a scheduled meeting with the individual developers?

Yes, but that’s retarded. Not everyone has the resources to travel around the world meeting developers, nor do most developers make special trips to outlet offices unless they’re in New York or some other major city.

On the whole, I thought it was great. The only complaints I heard were from people who were out there alone having to deal with the transit between hotels (which did suck) and the publishers who said they felt like they didn’t get to see anybody else’s games, because they were stuck in their hotel suite or wherever else they were demoing their game.

I mean, the ESA gave us free lunch. You could never have done that in years past.

For the bigger orgs, I don’t know if E3 is still serving an essential function, but for smaller or non-exclusively gaming oriented outlets, I think the new format makes a lot of sense.

Get it out of LA already. LA is too big and too expensive. Move it to Vegas, which is built around handling things like this.

I understand that the show probably works better for publishers and press, mostly because the noise is gone and the tens of thousands of non-press are also gone, but from an outsider’s perspective it generated far less coverage and far fewer interesting stories about the games.

There are a lot of rumors about it being moved to Vegas. Anyone who credible they are?

I think not having booth babes actually makes it less of a exclusive nerd club and makes it look more professionaly. Maybe just me though.

I think Vegas is pretty much booked for the next several years as far as large conference spaces go.