The E for All Expo, the open-to-the-public gaming exhibition spun off from the new, industry-only E3, is having serious trouble attracting major videogame publishers to its 2008 show, which takes place only five weeks from now.
Currently, only Microsoft and Electronic Arts are listed as major exhibitors on the E for All website, according to a report by Big Download, but more troublesome for the show is the list of companies which said they have no plans to attend. PR reps for Sony, Midway, Atari, Sega, WBIE, NCsoft, LucasArts, Square Enix, Codemasters, Gamecock, Southpeak, Disney Interactive and Capcom all told the site they have no plans to attend E for All, as did THQ and Konami, who were present for the 2007 show. Representatives for Nintendo, 2K Games and Activision were not yet aware of whether or not their companies would attend, while Intel said it might put in an appearance, but only as part of the Dell touring truck exhibition.
The thin list of exhibitors seems especially bleak when compared with that of the upcoming Penny Arcade Expo, which will feature over 20 major publishers, all of the Big Three console manufacturers and numerous independent developers as well. Attendance at PAX is expected to hit 45,000 people this year, a big jump over last year’s still-impressive 37,000 attendees; E for All indicated last year that it hoped to attract 20,000 to 30,000 people, but managed only 18,000, and has given no attendance estimates for 2008. Attendance could also be impacted by the Tokyo Game Show, one of the world’s largest, which runs only one week after E for All, as well as the always-popular Blizzcon, which takes place over the same weekend on October 11-12.
The bad news follows reports of record-setting crowds at the 2008 Games Convention in Leipzig, as well as a statement by Leipzig chief Wolfgang Marzin expressing interest in expanding the show to North America. Meanwhile, the 2008 E3, despite apparently improving on the train wreck of the previous year, still fared poorly in the eyes of most, including high-profile industry figures like John Riccitiello and Laurent Detoc, who described it as “a pipe-fitters show in the basement.”