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  • Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Will the New E3 Actually Harm the Videogame Industry?

BySara

Jul 10, 2007

In case you had forgotten, the new-look E3 kicks off tonight with Microsoft’s press conference, followed through the end of the week by dozens of press conferences and personal briefings with some of the industry’s biggest players. Following E3 2006, the Entertainment Software Association, along with some large industry publishers, thought it was a good idea to scale back E3 from the booth-babe monstrosity it had become to a more-refined and private (read: productive) affair. By removing the superfluous multimedia booths and extravagant parties, the groups hoped that business could actually get done. No doubt it will, but we’ve got to wonder: at what cost?
“Cost” is a relative term, of course, but we’re not talking about finances. For starters, the weeks-long consumer hype leading up to E3s of yore is decidedly absent, with even some hardcore gamers viewing 2007’s E3 Media and Business Summit almost as a bore. In previous years E3 had certainly gotten out of hand financially, but the hype surrounding the annual trade show could not be denied. From a marketing standpoint that awareness was phenomenal, as it drove demand for some of the industry’s most-promising franchises and companies and, in turn, probably helped fuel the industry’s record-breaking year-over-year profits.
But this new format, with its (highly responsible) focus on business and relationships, has squashed that hype to a large degree, so much so that we’ve got to wonder whether the new format has backfired from a consumer-awareness standpoint. Sure, the publishers can have more productive one-on-one meetings with journalists, and they’ll likely have more intimate meetings with retailers as well. But what happens if those retailers enjoy their meetings so much that they order tens of thousands of copies of a given game, only to end up with thousands of copies collecting dust on store shelves because consumers hadn’t been sufficiently hyped about the games themselves?
One could argue that E3’s previous format could have had the same result, with so many games crammed down consumers’, reporters’ and retailers’ throats, but at least the hype was there. Now? E3 2007 feels more like an afterthought, a closed affair that consumers have forgotten about in the midst of summer vacations and more-hyped summer movies.
Consumer reaction aside, the industry itself may suffer from the new format as well. With the now-exclusive E3 open to fewer attendees, so too have fewer publishers been invited to the Santa Monica show. People who had been to past years’ E3 know the horror stories of Kentia Hall, the convention-center dungeon where independent and smaller publishers were left to hawk their wares in anonymity. But at least those companies were there and had a chance to catch a few reporter stragglers. Now many of them aren’t even invited, which doesn’t exactly level the playing field among industry publishers. Remember the old saying “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”? Never did that seem more appropriate than it does for the 2007 E3 Media and Business Summit.
To be fair, the new format does help smaller publishers to a certain degree, because now they don’t have to earmark half of their annual marketing budgets for astronomical booth and equipment rentals at the LA Convention Center. Yet where the larger companies can put that savings toward more “personal” events throughout the year, it’s far less likely that the smaller publishers will be able to attract the same volume of attention with any hosted event to highlight their games, begging the question whether the lack of attention is really worth the savings.
So as you enter E3 2007 “researching mode” and read about a few high-profile games, ask yourself whether something’s missing. It’ll be easy to note the absence of booth babes and E3-related eBay auctions, but what’s lurking behind those obvious omissions? Are we seeing fewer diamonds in the rough? Are we hearing even less about independent companies whose titles would stand out if only given a chance to attend the show (remember Painkiller’s debut)? Are we missing out on creative gameplay concepts because E3 just didn’t have the same level of hype? The answers won’t be known until annual sales figures roll in, but we really wonder whether the new-look E3 will have an even larger impact on the industry than anticipated — and not in the way the ESA and larger publishers were hoping for.
— Jonas Allen

By Sara

My name is Sara Anslee, I live in Colorado. I am very fond of gaming, writing, and blogging. I share the latest news and tips about sports games, video games, gaming movies, gaming devices, and accessories. I also love watching movies and traveling.