The Entertainment Software Association announced yesterday that E3 is â€œevolvingâ€ into â€œa more intimate event focused on targeted, personalized meetings and activitiesâ€.
This is unbelievable. I was actually befuddled for a minute or two after reading the press release. And then it all started making senseâ€¦especially when news broke that EA has been whining about the increasing costs. This is like Donald Trump whining about how expensive cheesecake is, and then demanding that only apple pie be served at restaurants.
The entire press release, and my comments are as follows:
Washington, DC (July 31, 2006) â€“ To better address the needs of todayâ€™s global computer and video game industry, the 2007 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3Expo) is evolving into a more intimate event focused on targeted, personalized meetings and activities, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced today.
Seriously, this is a de-evolution if anything. What the hell are targeted personalized meetings and activities? Private lap dances? Scientology aura cleansing?
â€œThe world of interactive entertainment has changed since E3Expo was created 12 years ago. At that time we were focused on establishing the industry and securing orders for the holiday season,â€ said Douglas Lowenstein, President of the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers and the owner of E3Expo. â€œOver the years, it has become clear that we need a more intimate program, including higher quality, more personal dialogue with the worldwide media, developers, retailers and other key industry audiences.â€
Why, yes it has changed. But only a little bit. Developers are still regularly begging publishers to screw them over, publishers are still funding dumb game ideas, and there are tons of other problems in the industry. Not much change there. By the way, in all of the years I have ever been to E3, there was never a sense that the focus was securing orders for the holiday season. Sure, that did occur, but you know, that can be done over the phone right? E3 was the media extravaganza which was the perfect vehicle to build hype over a game, help smaller developers get desperately needed exposure in the news, and of course it was a great event for serious networking.
But Iâ€™m failing to see where â€œit has become clearâ€ that we need a more intimate program, and why that means that the best part (and biggest draw) of the expo needs to get nerfedâ€¦
The new E3Expo will take shape over the next several months. As currently envisioned, it will still take place in Los Angeles, described by ESA as a â€œgreat and supportive partner helping to build E3.â€ It will focus on press events and small meetings with media, retail, development, and other key sectors. While there will be opportunities for game demonstrations, E3Expo 2007 will not feature the large trade show environment of previous years.
Press events and small meetings with media and retail? Why do I get the feeling that the large publishers are feeling the threat of online distribution and other outlets and are using this as a way to regain some leverage? If a small developer canâ€™t get some hype and exposure at a huge trade show like E3, what is left? It is nearly impossible to get a deal with a publisher (for funding or for distribution) if you donâ€™t already have a major portion of your game developed and some serious industry interest/hype.
Even as E3 has been, it was always difficult to â€œget in the doorâ€ with some publishers, but now with this new â€œmore intimateâ€ approach, it is going to be impossible. You might as well just show up at the door of the corporate HQ and ask for a meeting.
And what is this crap about â€œthere will be opportunities for game demonstrationsâ€? What the hell does THAT mean? Does this mean that there generally will be NO game demonstrations, but there will be some exceptions or limited opportunities?
â€œE3Expo remains an important event for the industry and we want to keep that sense of excitement and interest, ensuring that the human and financial resources crucial to its success can be deployed productively to create an exciting new format to meet the needs of the industry. The new event ensures that there will be an effective and more efficient way for companies to get information to media, consumers, and others,â€ said Lowenstein.
Uhm. Iâ€™m sorry, but you just threw excitement and interest right out the door. Oh, here is an interesting line â€œensuring that the human and financial resourcesâ€¦can be deployed productivelyâ€. I fail to see how scaling the ENTIRE expo down will achieve this. The only folks that will save any money are the giant mega-publishers who piss away tens of millions of dollars every year at E3. Why donâ€™t they simply just NOT SPEND AS MUCH, and let the rest of us enjoy the expo?
What about this line? â€œThe new event ensures that there will be an effective and more efficient way for companies to get information to media, consumers, and othersâ€. Wow! How exciting! I bet I know what the most effective and efficient ways are! WEBSITES AND EMAIL. Effective, cheap, and quite efficient.
But wait! Why do people go to E3? To play the games, see what is new, network, develop new relationships, schmooze, look for jobs, etc. etc. The game industry NEEDS a mega event. Breaking the whole thing down into tiny little rooms for press only demonstrations is justâ€¦sad.
Additionally, the evolution of the video game industry into a vibrant and expanding global market has led to the creation of major events in different regions, such as the Games Convention in Leipzig, the Tokyo Game Show, and company-specific events held by Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and others around the world. As a result, Lowenstein said, â€œIt is no longer necessary or efficient to have a single industry â€˜mega-showâ€™. By refocusing on a highly-targeted event, we think we can do a better job serving our members and the industry as a whole, and our members are energized about creating this new E3.â€
Yes, it is quite nice that Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft and others (well duh, these guys are the console guys) have company specific events. Yes, lovely. I donâ€™t care. What about the hundreds of other developers and publishers out there? You know, if Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and EA just stopped going to E3, there would just be more elbow room. To be sure, I have looked forward to seeing what they are putting out each year, but I usually find the best games and most interesting new titles elsewhere.
And, yes, it is great that Leipzig and the Tokyo Game Show are doing wellâ€¦the de-evolution of E3 will give these guys a boost. The US is slowly giving up its lead in the game industry. We arenâ€™t innovating, we arenâ€™t creating original content, we arenâ€™t supporting smaller developers, and so on. Nerfing E3 is just another exampleâ€¦has the North American game industry just giving up? Or does it refuse to believe it is sick?
The line about members being energized about creating this new E3 is bullshit. Yes, I said it. I donâ€™t believe that anyone in their right mind finds this energizing. If you want highly targeted events, they happen all year long, and in multiple regions. There MUST be one single mega-show to tie it all together.
Ok, so I havenâ€™t said much about EA yet. It has been reported in several places that EA was one of the leading companies pushing for this castration of E3. The main reason? It was too expensive. Well, no shi* Sherlock. When you spend $20-30M on your booth, what were you thinking? But why ruin it for the rest of us? Thatâ€™s what I want to know. First they got rid of the booth babes, and now this. Nobody buys games that are no fun. Remember that.
You know, this almost doesnâ€™t surprise me. EA wastes hundreds of millions of dollars every year (it is a wonder that they are still heavyweights), they routinely cancel titles in development, they acquire developers and destroy them (*cough* origin?), and I have never ever met an EA employee that was truly happy with their job or how the company treats its people. Now EA is spreading the bad mojo and killing E3. Gee, thanks EA. I hope your stock tanks.
Finally, you know what really pisses me off? No one asked our opinion before this decision was made. I never heard of a vote, a poll, or a questionnaire. I want to know the names of the companies that â€œvotedâ€ for this. I canâ€™t believe that this is in the best interest of the industryâ€¦E3 is either dead, or it will be in a few short years.
In any case, it needs a new name. Electronic ENTERTAINMENT EXPO just doesnâ€™t fit anymore. Suggestions?