E3 Is Just Around The Corner. And Changes Are Afoot.

 

This week I started receiving invites to E3 press briefings. The show comes around these days with alarming speed; one minute the office is reconvening after the Christmas break, the next I’m standing wearily in the customs line at LAX.

2017 is a big year for E3. With the advent of more consumer-friendly gaming events such as PAX and even Gamescom, a show that grants access to media and consumer alike, E3’s traditional modus operandi has proven to be outdated. Consequently, several publishers have opted to ‘consciously uncouple’ from the annual event.

For over 20 years, E3 has been the premiere video game expo for publishers to lift the covers on new hardware and software for an eager global audience. Pontificating industry icons are on hand to shine a light on what the future holds, and for the media representatives present at the show, it’s the first opportunity to get hands-on and form initial opinions of the many games on display.

On a personal level, E3 still remains the most important show of the year. It’s an event that garners the most press coverage outside of the traditional gaming channels and it’s virtually impossible to avoid the news coming out of Los Angeles. LA-based celebrities can often be seen filing through the crowds, eager to see what’s happening; Spielberg is there every year.

Not opposed to change, over time E3 has certainly experimented with different structures. In 2007, it was scaled back to an attendance of just 10,000 and renamed the E3 Media and Business Summit. While it was far easier to get around and access to all the devs was unprecedented, the format proved unpopular and in 2009, it reverted to previous format.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), responsible for running E3, accepted that it needed to evolve and experimented in 2016 by holding a public event attended by 20,000 in the shadow of the Convention Center. This year, of course, the ESA announced that for the first time in the show’s history, the general public would be admitted and 15,000 tickets were avariciously snapped up.

Having the game-playing community involved in a show like E3 is vital, and their impressions delivered through social media are essential to the ecosystem of game opinion. However, admitting an additional 15,000 people to an already crowded show will prove challenging to the organisers, and how they effectively balance the demands of both the media and public remains to be seen.

But it shows that the ESA has listened to feedback and is prepared to bend with the wind and adapt its model to a perpetually shifting industry.

Every year since 2011, the same “Is E3 still relevant?” headline follows in the wake of the show’s conclusion. Incredibly, the 2016 E3 registered 65 billion media impressions worldwide. All industry eyes and players around the world are transfixed by the news coming out of the Los Angeles Convention Center during the event. Yes, E3 is still relevant, providing the show organisers remain flexible. And to be honest, during that one week in June, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.