Following mixed reactions about E3 2008 from publishers and media alike, the ESA appears to be evaluating wholesale changes for E3 2009. Among the changes: timing, the show’s duration and whether a common “show floor” is even necessary. For the record, DailyGame preferred the format of E3 2008 to previous years, as we found it easier to have meaningful time with the developers, publishers and games.
In a post-show survey for E3 2008 attendees that went out today, the ESA asked two dozen questions ranging from hotel details to show format. Four questions, however, indicate that the ESA may be considering significant changes for E3 2009, above and beyond the “normal” evaluations that transpire between shows.
One question was “Of the following options, in which month would you most like to see the next Summit take place? (May, June, July, August).” This question was likely in response to attendees’ chagrin that E3 occurred immediately before Comic-Con and just one month before the Leipzig Games Convention. In fact, many publishers were strategically holding announcements for the latter two shows. This was somewhat frustrating for members of the media, as we often left wanting to know more information that “will be talked about more at Comic-Con or Leipzig.”
The ESA also asked “Of the following options, which is the most appropriate duration for the Summit? (Two days, Three days, Four days).” For the past six years at least, E3 has been a three-day affair, with press conferences for the three console manufacturers taking place before the show. This year, however, saw Nintendo and Sony hold their press conferences the first day of the show, significantly reducing the amount of time members of the media could meet with other publishers. Will a four-day format make it easier to meet with all desired parties? Arguably it would. But what would a two-day show accomplish? Not much, in our opinion, unless the ESA extended the show hours — which was the third intriguing survey question, by the way.
It’s not just the show hours and duration that are up for grabs, however. This year, game publishers focused their efforts on appointments held in private meeting rooms, which gave members of the media a more-intimate venue in which to talk to developers about the games and get meaningful hands-on time with many of them. There was a Showcase Pavillion that contained kiosks with games from each publisher, but by and large the Pavillion seemed quiet, as the behind-closed-door meetings consumed most reporters’ time.
With that in mind, the ESA plainly asked in its post-show survey: “Did you visit the Showcase Pavillion? (If so, how useful was it? If not, why not?)” The ESA (and perhaps publishers) obviously noted the ghost-town feel of the Pavillion, which may end up not being part of E3 2009 at all, depending on the survey results and ESA’s final evaluation. Not having a grand showcase area makes complete sense if the ESA once again designs E3 to be primarily a meeting-room affair. However, if E3 2009 ends up extending its show hours and/or its number of days, the Pavillion could very well survive.
Regardless, the ESA’s post-show survey for E3 2008 indicates that the trade organization is taking its member companies’ feedback seriously, as well as that from the media. E3 2008 was a welcome change from years past, at least in terms of productivity, but what is in store for E3 2009? At this point, all bets are off, save for one confirmation that yes, E3 2009 will take place. When, where and how big? That remains to be seen, but we’d be surprised if wholesale changes weren’t in order.
— Jonas Allen