Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

June 14, 2010 -

File this one under "didn't we just have this argument?" But what the hell, with E3 kicking off this week and companies like Microsoft, Ubisoft and EA holding press conferences today, now is as good a time as any to argue about opening up E3 to consumers. That's just what Dan Ackerman of C|Net does this morning in an article entitled "A modest proposal: Open E3 to the public."

Ackerman glosses over the recent shaky history of the event - where many wondered if the trade show would survive at all - and how it has moved from place-to-place, how it is affected in the age of a well connected populace through live blogs and video feeds, and how the whole "doing business and making deals" has been trumped by making news. Here's the main thrust of his argument:

The E3 show has survived pit-stops in Santa Monica and Atlanta, a near-desertion by its participating companies, and a couple of years of minimal attendance -- but just barely. Since E3 already looks and feels a lot like a fan event such as Comic-Con, why not throw open the doors to the public and make it the World's Fair of video games? It's an open secret that the halls have always been crowded with snuck-in friends and fans, so why not make it official? Do that, make it a destination event, and charge for tickets at the door, and we'll never have to ask if E3 can survive again.

And as a compromise E3 organizers who want press and buyers to come can simply create a back room area like GamesCon does every year. Then maybe they can stop charging publishers - especially small ones - millions of dollars. On a side note, I liked the show best when it was in Atlanta.

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Re: Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

Why open it to the public?  We get all the information about the new games, anyway.  We practically get live coverage, thanks to the internet and blogs.  So, again, why does the public want to be there?

For the experience.  People wanting to go view and play short demos, get their ears blasted by a constant drone of music and spokespeople, and to go act like creepy losers with the booth babes ("Hur hur, you're wearing a chainmail bikini!  Can I take my picture with you so I can prove that I got close enough to touch a girl?").

But you don't need E3 for all that.  There are several conventions year round that let's you do the exact same thing.  PAX, for one.  I think the media needs one trade show all to themselves, so they can get right to business without fighting their way through crowds of otakus.

Re: Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

If crowding is a major concern, then cap the number of tickets.  Pre-sell with announcements going out to past attendees/major media outlets/etc. and let the chips fall where they may.  It doesn't make any sense to have an event this major and a big "keep out" sign to fans who aren't also fortunate enough to have a good job in a relevant sector.  If it's about press, then have a room full of suits and a press release -- but the layout and overall feel of the entire event is very much the sort of thing you'd expect for an all-out convention.  If it's only about deal-making or announcements, then why all the demos and giveaways and booths that make gamers drool with frustrated envy?  Don't dangle this stuff in front of us and then tell us we're not allowed in!  And keep it in LA so I don't have to travel to get there :D

Re: Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

Opening E3 to "the masses" is what nearly killed it in the last decade, because the big companies decided that what "the masses" wanted was loud music piped everywhere and line-ups long enough to test the patience of even the most ornery British queuer.  What we really want is what we've got right now: journalists and bloggers doing the busy work for us so that we can check up on it at our leisure, and big ol' presentations streamed through cyberspace.  Mr. Ackerman appears to live in a bubble that was vacuum-sealed in 2003 when E3 was the only game in town, rather than the industry-first show that coexists with the likes of PAX and GDC.

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Fangamer

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Fangamer

Re: Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

It would be nice if parts of it were open to the public. Then again I had a chance to see the event in Leipzig and passed due to the high cost. Then again that included a all night dance party and food....

I mean if people want to pay to go see it let them, it doesnt have to be free.

~Weatherlight~

~Weatherlight~

Re: Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

I would love E3 to open there doors to the hungry public, but I doubt that will ever happen.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

I sincerely doubt that opening E3 to the public would reduce the cost for small publishers. It's already a packed hall - there isn't any empty presentation space at E3. A reduction in cost might accompany a move to a larger venue but even that is doubtful - the big names (Sony, Microsoft, Activision, nVidia, AMD) tend to buy up large chunks of room simply because they want to be the dominant figure on the showroom floor.

The event is already "open" in an information sense. There are 24-hour video feeds of what's going on, videos of specific items such as press conferences and games, and anything not shown behind closed doors (ie: anything the public might be able to see if they could get into E3) is covered by several credible news sources. The only reason to allow the public into E3 would be to give them an early hands-on of upcoming technology, or for the swag. I can't think of any real benefit to either.

Re: Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

There are pros and cons for letting E3 open to the public.  However, I think the pros would outweigh the cons.

If you open E3 to the public, then you reduce the cost for publishers to display there (realize that the cost for the publishers is what caused E3 to try a minimalistic approach a few years ago which nearly killed it), and you create even more publicity by having more people see your new product.

The cons is that it minimizes time with the press, but there are definitely ways around that.  Back room areas for the press or special badges that give them priority at display booths.  Another con would be is crowding, but increase the price of tickets and sell fewer of them (and people would pay for a higher priced ticket.  It's E3, afterall).

So, should they open E3?  I think in the long run it'd be more beneficial to them.  Unless they want to start anouncing big new things at other public shows (aside from the Tokyo Game Show, which is for press and public alike, and is quite successful), then trying to say that other shows are open to the public just doesn't have the same impact.

Re: Should E3 Be Opened Up to the Masses?

I hope not. E3 is a trade show for the industry, and it's already a packed showroom. Opening it up to the public would destroy what E3 was originally meant to be. Besides, fans already have Blizzcon and PAX (East and West Coast).

 
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