The New E3


Doug Lowenstein has the hardest job on the planet right now. First he had to announce that the trade group he represents, the ESA, was cancelling it’s storied and widely-beloved E3 trade conference in favor of an event which would eliminate everything most people loved about it, in favor of the things his constituents (the major game publishers) preferred (i.e. smaller, more easily-controlled meetings and a guest list consisting of only pre-screened invitees).

Then, last week he had to endure what must have been a Maalox moment when it was announced that his arch enemy, IGD, had launched it’s own E3 replacement in the LACC, taking over what used to be Lowenstein’s house, in essence, and that their new show, according to a document released by IDG would be pretty damn close to the old one: “IDG has been secured to run the new GamePro Expo show, what we knew as E3.”

Now Doug has come before the cameras once again. The news? Invitations to the New E3 are going to be “scarce” and attendance, previously estimated at around 5,000 will be even lower.

“Currently I think that figure is high. The point is we don’t want people wandering around that aren’t the people companies want to meet,” stated Lowenstein. I think that’s worth quoting again. “The point is we don’t want people wandering around that aren’t the people companies want to meet.”

So just who will these embedded game reporters be? Who will be granted the golden ticket to visit an airplane hanger in Santa Barbara (at their own expense) to see demos and hands-on previews of major distributors’ upcoming games (saving said distributors the expense of flying said reporters out to their headquarters as usual)? We don’t know yet. According to Lowenstein, invitations start going out “in the next month or so.”

Huh. So let’s get this straight, the ESA, a trade group made up of (and funded by) major game manufacturers and publishers, which until very recently owned and operated the premiere industry showcase, has now closed that event in favor of a smaller, invitation-only show, to which only those “companies want to meet” will be invited. This is what we call favoritism, people. And – forgive me for getting up on a box here – it’s kind of the antithesis of a free press. Remember all of those journalistic principles we’ve been tossing around lately?

I for one will be very interested in looking at the ad sales reports of those who do get the nod. Did I just say “payola?” Yes. Yes I did. I also just said “October,” as in when I’ll be headed out to LA to visit what looks to be a much hotter ticket. E3 is dead, long live E3.

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