So, you spend money to secure space at E3. You hire some contractors to build you a big fancy booth with the name of your company and / or game in big flashy lights. You buy a booming sound system to deafen everyone that gets within a nautical mile of your booth, and a garage-door sized plasma screen to blind them if they come any closer. You pack that crap into some shipping containers and send it off to E3. You have your team stop development on the core game and work overtime for a few weeks to make a build of the game fit for public viewing. Then you fly your personnel to Los Angeles, rent them hotel space, and feed them for a few days while they hobnob with the public instead of sitting in the office getting work accomplished. Don't forget to buy a few bins of giveaway swag and hire some booth babes to hand it out. Afterward, don't forget to fly your hardware and hungover staff back home so they can return to productive work next week.

What have you spent so far? A half million? What exactly are you getting for all of that money? Because if all you want is the attention then there are better ways to do it than to spend the yearly salaries of eight people in an attempt to snag a tiny slice of an over-saturated news week that's really only followed by hardcore gamers, who probably already knew about your game and who were likely already going to [not] buy it.

E3 dates back to the savage, untamed days of 1995, when gamers needed to subscribe to five different magazines just to keep track of what was going on in the world of gaming. E3 was a conduit from publishers to the press, and it was an important way for everyone to connect. But we have this newfangled internet stuff now. One gaming site (like - let me pick one completely at random - say, this one) can keep up with the surge of news on the PC, Mac, three console, indies, and portables. It can handle slow news days, heavy news days, and ultra-heavy E3 news days. It can do all of this because we don't need to cut down four acres of Oregon and pulp it before we can tell you that Half-Life 2: Episode 3 still isn't out, but we'll have eighteen new Tomb Raider titles before week's end.

The cost of attending E3 is chump change to the titans like Microsoft or Activision. But it's likely a non-trivial percentage of the total game budget for the small companies, start-ups, and indies. Last I checked, gaming sites could still be persuaded - with the use of money - to put ads to your product on their sites. Unlike E3, this deal is a sure thing. You give them money, and people find out about your game. If you go the E3 route it's entirely possible your game will be lost in the noise. You can have ads run without releasing your dev team from their slave pits. They can continue to toil away, uninterrupted by your marketing efforts.

E3 is madness. It's a black hole into which developers pitch their time and treasure, in exchange for a few fleeting moments of attention from a distracted and likely over-the-legal-limit gaming press. It's an absurd waste of resources that should probably be spent elsewhere by the increasingly overdue and over-budget videogame industry. It's flashy demos and scantily clad women handing out free stuff amidst the eardrum-blasting demos of next year's games.

Lucky bastards. I really hope I can make it next year.

Shamus Young is the author of Twenty Sided and the vandal behind Stolen Pixels. He's never been to E3. The loser.

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