The Entertainment Software Association has officially announced the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, and as predicted the new E3 is sounding an awful lot like the old E3.

“Video games are the fastest growing and most compelling sector of the entertainment industry. And, this upgraded event will reflect the growth, innovation and excitement of our industry,” said ESA CEO Michael Gallagher. “The breadth, scope and quality of the changes made to the show will make E3 the must-attend event of the year.”

The 2007 and 2008 shows were strictly invitation-only affairs, offering nowhere near the size or spectacle of earlier events. While the decision to do so was made at least in part due to complaints from game companies that the show had become too expensive to be practical, it turned out that the scaled-back E3 was even worse. Many observers, including some high-profile industry figures, questioned the relevance of the show, and dissatisfaction with the event was widely believed to be one factor in the decision of many companies, including Activision, LucasArts and id Software, to leave the ESA.

Apparently, the ESA got the message, and have made changes to the show including increased booth sizes, larger “qualified audiences,” expanded participation eligibility and “an intensified focus on reinforcing the high-octane growth, innovation, and captivating entertainment that are driving the computer and video game industry.”

“The E3 Expo will be the pre-eminent North American gaming show next year,” said John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts and one of the most vociferous critics of the 2008 E3. “The new, larger event is better for industry leaders and for serious gamers.”

Ubisoft North America President Laurent Detoc, who compared last year’s show to a “pipe-fitter’s show in the basement,” was similarly optimistic. “The video game business will be twice as big in 2009 as it was in 2006 when we had the last real E3 Expo – so get ready for some fireworks!” he said. “The changes made will ensure that the 2009 E3 Expo conveys the best of what makes us proud as entertainment leaders.”

The 2009 edition of E3 will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 2-4. Further details, including registration information, credentialing and whether or not we’ll actually get to see some booth babes this year will be released over the next few weeks.

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