E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is a huge annual showcase of games and technology, most of which are still in development. Until now, the expo has only been open to press and people who work in the industry, but that’s about to change. This year E3 is inviting the public. 4,000 to 5,000 lucky people will get to go to E3 without a press pass or a job with game company or retailer. The public tickets will be good for the full length of the show.
Before you get too excited, though, not just anyone can walk in the door. The Entertainment Software Association‘s (ESA) member companies (big names in gaming like Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft, and Electronic Arts) will be allotted a certain amount of tickets to give away. The amounts will be decided by the sizes of their booths on the E3 show floor. What they’ll decide to do with those tickets is anyone’s guess. It may mean that you’ll be seeing some big contests and giveaways in the near future.
The number of tickets being distributed to the general public is not at all insignificant. Last year’s attendance at E3 was just under 50,000. That means the public tickets are likely to increase the number of attendees by 10 percent.
Waning Relevance of E3?
The motivation for this change in policy appears to be the exhibiting companies’ desire to connect directly with consumers and fans from the general public, instead of solely with industry professionals. With so many other gaming shows like PAX that are open to the general public, E3 is less of a big deal than it used to be. In fact, last year’s E3 saw a 10 percent drop in exhibiting companies from the year before.
With the growing trend of digital downloads, game makers seem to be moving away from focusing on press and retailers and instead focusing on the players themselves. Large segments of current gaming companies haven’t ever exhibited at the show. For example many of the largest mobile game developers including Rovio (Angry Birds) and King (Candy Crush Saga) have never exhibited at the show and won’t be there this year either.
The ESA still states that E3 is the biggest event in gaming. That may be true now, but will it be a few years from now?