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The once and future E3
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Joined: Dec 31, 1969
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PostPost subject: The once and future E3
Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:49 pm
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The 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo broke attendance records and exhibitor budgets with flashy light displays, stage shows, and an ever-booming cacophony of gameplay. Shortly afterward, the member companies of its organizing body, the Entertainment Software Association, balked at the skyrocketing cost. The result? The rechristened E3 Media & Business Summit in 2007, which ditched the massive spectacle of the Los Angeles Convention Center for a smattering of hotel suites and an airplane hangar in Santa Monica.

With attendance slashed from 60,000 to 5,000 and a no-frills attitude, the new format was more convenient for business-minded attendees, but it failed to capture the media attention and public imagination of past E3s. So, despite having paid $5 million in fines to shift the event to Santa Monica, the ESA decided to move the event back to the LACC. However, with attendance levels remaining in the few thousand, the event occupied only a fraction of the massive locale's floor space, underlining the event's reduced scale. The lowered expectations were evident by near-complete nonattendance of the two keynotes from ESA president Michael Gallagher and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

But even before E3 2008 opened for business, some companies decided that the expo wasn't worth the trouble. In May, the then-separate halves of Activision Blizzard both announced that they were dropping out of the ESA, followed by LucasArts two weeks later and id Software the following week. Although most remaining publishers dutifully made major announcements at their press conferences, many executives weren't shy about expressing their disdain for the event.

Taking EA Sports president Peter Moore's urging to "Go big or go home" to heart, the ESA announced in October that its 2009 expo will be much larger. Though the organizing body didn't provide specific figures, it did say that both booth sizes and attendance will be increased, inspiring EA CEO John Riccitiello to promise that E3 2009 will be "the preeminent North American gaming show." However, time will tell if the once-mighty event reclaims its former glory.

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