Who killed E3?

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posted 5/16/2007 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
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Suspect #5: Fanboys
The fanboys might not have killed E3 by themselves but they were a big part of it. For journalists and other industry people it was a hassle to have to wade through swag whoring crowds of fanboys to get to their appointments. At one point during the show Paris Hilton manged to shut down almost half of the West Hall to promote a cell phone game she knew nothing about. Most fanboys where just there to play games, take pictures with booth babes and score swag by the bag full. It clogged up the aisles and took up valuable time at booths. The fact that the game publishers catered to this audience with bags of goodies and eye candy just made it even worse.
 
Suspect #6: Gaming Press
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone right? In the rush to cover every game on the show floor the press often glossed over small games or made bad snap decisions on others. Worse yet journalists often made up their mind about a game before even playing it, wasting both their time and the time of the developer presenting the game.   Sure these are trivial in some sense but what's the point of spending copious amounts of time and money if people are going to ignore or mis-represent your work. 
 
Suspect #7: The ESA
Finally we reach the main villain of our story, the Entertainment Software Association, the folks who organized the show. The biggest problem with E3 was that the ESA never really enforced their own admission rules and consequently E3 was overrun by people who really had no business being there. Sure they could tout that there were 80,000 people attending the show but how many people were really supposed to be there? There was some improvement last year as they stepped up enforcement of the rules but it was still easy to gain access to the show floor. This forced companies to start holding more and more meetings behind closed doors and as well as conducting events outside the convention center. When you say an event is going to be industry only you really need to make sure that it's the industry people you want (retailers, purchasers, developers, gaming press) and not the ones that you don't (Bookstore employees, Walmart stockers, etc).
 
The ESA also needs to take the blame for letting the event become a circus over the last few years. If they had started monitoring the noise and the dress code sooner, the event would not have become such an assault on the senses. No offense to NC Soft and Red Octane but do you really need to have live bands playing loud music in your booths? The Witcher booth was right behind the Red Octane booth last year and you could barely hear the developers talk about the game as the the band that was playing less than 15 feet away. By not enforcing standard they let the companies one-up each other each year until it was too late to reign everyone in.
 
As you can see, the death of E3 wasn't caused by one person, it was a group effort. I know it's cool to hate on E3 but I still miss the spectacle of the event and I'm going to miss going and hanging with gamers from around the world and talking to the developers. We will be at the new show later this year but it won't be the same thing. Maybe that's for the better but I'm not entirely sure it is.





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