Over the past week, I have written about my past 10 years attending and covering E3 for the various media outlets I have worked for. The show was a massive affair with tens of thousands of attendees, massive exhibits by the main publishers and a general sense that this was a combination of trade show and overall party for the video and PC game industry.. There were always rumors that some of the big game publishers didn't want to support E3 and indeed there were brief one year defections of at least two major publishers. Take Two Interactive decided not to have a massive booth at E3 one year but the next year the company was back in force showing off all their games. Atari decided to create a bar one year for people to sit down and relax with non-alcoholic beverages without showing any games but the next year the company was back again with their regular exhibit that showed off upcoming titles.
However in July 2006 the hammer fell on the annual massive gathering that was the old E3 as then ESA president Doug Lowenstein announced that E3 2007 would instead be a "a more intimate program". The huge and loud exhibits would be gone as would the huge amount of attendees. One of the major complaints about the old E3 was that for every reporter, game developer or legit business person at E3 there were 10 people who attended simply because they managed to get a pass to the show with little to no real connection to the game industry.
So what will E3 2007, now less than three weeks away and officially called the E3 Media and Business Summit, really be like? Well the truth is that we don't exactly know. This new format is new to everyone who was used to the loud and large LA Convention Center and it's likely that for E3 2008 there might be some changes as the ESA learns what people liked and didn't like about the new format after the 2007 edition is over. One thing is for certain; E3 2007 is strictly an invite only affair. The ESA asked its member publishers to submit lists of people they want to attend the new event and that list is looking like it is pretty restrictive. According to the official E3 2007 web site only 3,000 to 4,000 people will be attending the show (it's not clear if that's the total number of people or simply the number of media and business reps that were invited). That should eliminate one of the biggest criticisms of the old E3 as there should only be people attending who need to be there to cover the event for their media outlet or making deals in the gaming industry and not just some folks off the street.
Another big difference is that the show, at least for this year, won't be held in one central location. The ESA decided to hold the 2007 show in several hotels in Santa Monica along with the city's Barker Hanger which will be the central place where all the official E3 publishers will show off their upcoming games. The 35,000 square foot Barker Hanger is a far cry from the huge LA Convention Center so the huge multi-million dollar displays of E3 in the past are likely over. Also over is the weirdness of a location like the LA Convention Center's Kentia Hall where in the past smaller publishers and companies showed off their wares. One thing that will not change is that the big three game console companies (Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) all plan to hold their huge E3 press conferences where they will most likely reveal some previously unannounced games and maybe a surprise or three. After hours parties are also an E3 tradition and we know that some publishers are planning to hold them during the three days of the show.