Next-Gen.biz: It was an opportunity to take stock of the industry as a whole – the people, the products and the trends. Many greeted the news that E3 had gone with shock. But, in reality, its days were numbered. Here’s why…
1. The People Who Pay Weren’t Happy E3 was a great showpiece for the industry as a whole. But the industry as a whole does not pay for E3. Individual companies pay. They need to be able to demonstrate tangible benefits for that expense, just as they would for any other marketing cost.
2. Four People Said ‘Enough’ The fact is that all it took were a very small number of company presidents to talk with each other, and figure out that if they all decided to pass, none of them would need to be there. Once Nintendo, Microsoft, SCEA and EA had stepped out, E3 was history. It was multilateral disarmament.
3. Media Irrelevance There was a time when the game industry could enjoy its little May media window, as major news networks sent their reporters to the show to talk about the state of the industry. The fact that they usually filed stories on either videogame violence or new hardware launches that would have been reported anyway, seems to have been allowed to slide. These days, games are a major entertainment for people of most ages. News editors can’t afford to just cover games during E3, or with a pre-Holidays buyers’ guide. Games are always on the radar.
4. The ‘E3 Winners’ Farce The ‘who won E3?’ contest beloved of we in the media had become a real problem. E3 is not a sporting contest, and yet it was increasingly seen as some form of championship.
5. Rise of Publisher Events Media events held by companies to show off their own products offer publishers more control, lower costs and a more intimate atmosphere.
6. Common Sense Then there’s common sense. For example – Nintendo’s aim at E3 was to get Wii into as many hands as possible. There must be better ways of doing this than spending $20 million making a bunch of developers and blog editors stand in a line for three hours.
7. The Internet The Internet generally gets the blame for bringing old establishments to their knees, and this is no exception. Information is disseminated faster and at better resolution than ever. The need to go to Los Angeles to look at a game is somewhat negated when you can download a movie, or play a demo on Xbox Live. No, it’s not the same, but it’s close enough to make a difference.
8. The High Cost Convention Centers the world over charge extortionate prices for mundane services and LACC is no exception.
9. The Herculean Effort E3 isn’t just measured in terms of the cost of the booth, the floor-space, the party, the hotel, the flights etc. There’s also the incredible amount of effort that goes into preparing for the show. Marketing teams are focused on E3 for a good six months of the year. Developers are whipped along as they try to get games ready for what is, essentially, an artificial deadline.
10. Big Shows are Passe For all of the reasons above, massive pan-industry events are feeling the squeeze.
Even though this is all meant to help the industry at large, I have the feeling that it will hurt it in more ways then one. The biggest thing now is that the media will have to hop around to different locations around the US or globally to attend different media conforences. Do they really think this will make things better for them?
E3 was THE place for everyone in the industry – developers, publishers, media, etc – to come together. Now it’s gone. We don’t need another GDC or Siggraph. We need E3.