News of changes to the format of the annual Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) has been trickling in for some days, though the full extent of the proposed changes to be made by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have left much of the games industry reeling, as a drastic slashing of the event is outlined.
The first and most startling news is the revised attendance plans revealed by the ESA. From an estimated 60,000 a mere 5,000 will remain, largely made up of core press with an established readership. The amount of 'press' clogging E3, as they update their blogs and fora, has reached comedic proportions in recent years. As a result, legitimate press are afforded little hospitality by booth reception. Indeed, a source of major frustration with journalists at E3 is the hostile attitude publishers' hired help adopt towards anyone with a press badge, leaving them to push through to find one of the friendly faces with whom they are scheduled for a meeting.
The acquisition of assets has also become increasingly problematic. With large corporate publishers being given preferential treatment that sees them have all assets from all publishers days before the event opens, other sites are left with a scrabble for content for rapid upload during the feeding frenzy. Asset discs, beta rolls etc are required. These are, of course, prized eBay material to some media outlets and therefore publishers have become reluctant to release them. Instead offering online, out of date, press kit fliers instead. We saw a senior BBC correspondent refused a beta tape this year because he could not match his request to a meeting in the publisher's system.
The reduced numbers mean the sprawling LA Convention Center will be sidelined. Instead, the show will be held in various as yet unnamed hotels around the city of Los Angeles. Exactly how this will play out was not elucidated.
The final big news is the May slot will be scrapped, with the baking month of July instead favoured by the ESA. The concept behind the date change is to align the showing of software closer to its (largely) December point of release.
The new name for the LA event will be E3 Media Festival, the name change has lead some to speculate that games might share the limelight with other forms of digital entertainment, which would be ironic - E3 was originally spun out of Las Vegas' annual Consumer Electronics Show. In reality, the new name is no more vague than Electronics Entertainment Expo, which could have always encompassed a larger range of entertainment products.
Expect further details as they come in.