Sunday, August 06, 2006
E3 is Dead
It’s official. E3 as we knew it is dead. Last Monday the Entertainment Software Association announced that the giant industry trade show held every May, preceded by multimillion dollar press conferences from the big 3 manufacturers, and best known to the general public as that ‘videogame thing’ in Los Angeles, has been cancelled.
Ultimately it came down to a cost vs. benefit equation. According to Next-Generation, many publishers simply did not see the benefit of spending millions of dollars in a trade show to compete with other major publishers spending an equally massive amount when they would make their own events get all the attention. “Once Nintendo, Microsoft, SCEA and EA had stepped out, E3 was history. It was multilateral disarmament,” explained Next-Generation.biz’s Colin Campbell.
The Fans Loses
While Japan celebrates a hobbyist culture, with conventions held in and around Tokyo for hobbies of every stripe, North Americans have relegated hobbyist conventions to the realm of the nerds and Trekkies. The massive financial and PR success of Lucasfilm’s ‘Star Wars Celebration’ conventions have done little to change this attitude. Even as the Tokyo Game show is said to be under threat of cancellation, its genesis is rumoured to be an even more massive show combining Anime, and other subcultures into one massive hobbyist convention.
Contrasting E3’s death is the upcoming Leipzig Games Convention. Instead of a hand-me down trade show where the big three rehash their E3 announcement for the European public, Nintendo promises 5 new Nintendo Wii (pronounced We) games will be shown. Some Europeans have even gone as far as proclaiming that E3’s death is good for Europe.
But such conclusions may be a little early. North America is the world’s largest consumer of videogames dwarfing both Japan and Europe, albeit per capita, the Japanese are still the bigger consumers. The decisions and big announcements will still be made on this continent. But without a centralized trade-show and having no consumer based hobbyist show for the fans, the Europeans have a right to brag about their games convention, which is expected to draw over 150,000 attendees from the public compared to E3’s 60,000 trade attendees at its height.
In previous years, dedicated fans of the hobby got around the trade-only moniker of E3 by moving their way into the industry working retail or becoming ‘internet journalists’. In its demise there’s nothing quite as big to replace it. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will doubtless have lax policies for their fans, bloggers and net journalists to enter their own events and the new downsized E3, expected to hold 6,000 from the industry. But gamers who want something more centralized will no longer be afforded this opportunity.
When will North Americans get a public games convention of our own?