A year ago I pronounced E3 dead.
I was wrong.
Of course, when I wrote those words, the impressive expo staged last week was not what I had in mind. Instead, as 2008’s pitiful show wound down, I checked E3 for vital signs and found none. I wasn’t alone, of course. E3 2008 was awash in criticism from media and industry types. Even Mr. Sims himself, Will Wright, termed the show "the walking dead."
But this year’s E3 has to be – by any measure – rated a success. While it wasn’t the exercise in rampant game biz excess that we experienced in prior years, it had ample excitement and plenty of buzz. And, truth be told, sharing the L.A. Convention Center with 41,000 other attendees was a far more pleasant experience than the godawful crush caused by the crowd of 80,000 let into the last big E3 in 2006.
In any case, kudos must be paid to the ESA and its member companies for following up on their commitment to turning E3’s sinking ship around. The expo, of course, is the video game industry’s annual chance to strut its stuff and it deserves to be a showcase. Hell, gamers want it to be a showcase. It’s no secret that gamers drool over E3, yours truly included. Personally, 2009 was my 12th trip to the big dance. I’ve attended E3 in Atlanta, Santa Monica, and – a bunch of times – at the LACC. Afterward, I return home feeling re-energized about games and maybe even a bit let down by the prospect of life without 50-foot high displays, pulsing lights, amped-up music and booth babes.
To let E3 and its storied history just fade away might seem unthinkable, but that’s exactly the direction in which the industry was heading when it allowed bean counters to dictate policy. Thankfully, those who understand just how important E3 is to the video game community stepped in and saved the day.