Who killed E3?


posted 5/16/2007 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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It's mid-May and in years past that meant that the attention of the gaming world was focused on Los Angeles for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).  This May, Los Angeles is lacking the same gamer glow that it does this time every year.The annual show was killed off last year. While there is another E3 happening this year in July it pales in comparison of the magnatude of the original event.

But who killed E3?  That's the real question. One that I'm hoping to answer with this article.  After some research I've come to the conclusion that much like Agatha Christie's novel "Murder on the Orient Express" there was more than one person responsible for the death of E3.  In order to take down something of this size it would take more than just one person or organization.  Without further ado here is the list of suspects that I managed to come up with
Suspect #1: EA and the publishers
I single out EA because they have historically have lead the charge behind getting the event canceled year over year. However, the rest of the publishers like Activision, Konami, and Sega are just as  complicit in taking down the industries big event.  I can't say that I blame them that much as every year they had to ratchet up their booths just to make their voices heard over each other.  They had to spend dollar after dollar just to gain the attention of the retailers,fanboys, and press.  Publishers also had to interrupt complex  development schedules in order to have something to show.  This put added stress on the developers who were feverishly working to get the game out the door.  Worse yet, there were games that were not in any shape to be demonstrated to the general public (Too Human comes to mind) and many a shallow gamer and journalist couldn't see past the technical issues to see the potential of the game underneath. 

Suspect #2: Nintendo

I'm not saying that the innovative design of their new console killed the show but the fact that Nintendo had a four hour line that dominated headlines last year did not make it easy for other companies to keep pouring in the funds into E3.  It's hard to get the message out about your game when you've got to compete with a YouTube video of how long the line to see the Wii is.  Maybe Nintendo could have had a few more units available for people to play or allowed third party developers to show off their Wii games in their own booths to help ease the line.  Instead they forced gamers to waste a good chunk of their E3 time sitting in line just to get a chance to play the Wii for a few moments.

Suspect #3 Sony
E3 was a disaster for Sony last year.  Between the the price of the system, the infamous Ridge Racer line, and lack of a killer PS3 title the entire affair was not what Sony was expecting.  Sony showed off a lot of good PS2 and PSP titles last year but they got lost in the rush to pile attention onto the Playstation3.  Sony had the largest booth at E3 last year and  spent a huge amount of money to do it. They got killed in the press. Its hard to justify spending so much money to be ignored. When the chance to have a smaller, more focused event came up, they jumped at the chance to kill E3 for a more focused event.

Suspect #4: Microsoft
Last year Microsoft shifted the E3 paradigm by releasing several of the E3 demos and videos on Xbox Live at the same time they appeared on the E3 show floor.  While this was an awesome idea it eliminated the need for having a show as gamers could play the games and watch the videos at home, eliminating the need for a show altogether.  Sure they didn't get some of the better games on the show floor (like Mass Effect or Supreme Commander) but they showed how vendors could create their own virtual event without having to shell out millions of dollars for floor space in dusty convention center.

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