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Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) : gone with the babes…

In may, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at the Los Angeles Convention Center used to be the annual rendezvous for the video game industry with console makers, publishers, developers, journalists and gamers joining the event. Each year had its announcements and for at least 3 days, video games news from E3 coverage were almost everywhere on the Internet, on newspapers, on television… E3 became so big (60 000 attendees, 400 exhibitors) that I wondered if it could get any bigger.

Electronic Software Association (ESA) president Doug Lowenstein was very proud of the 2006 edition and qualified E3 as “the most important gathering of interactive entertainment industry professionals on the planet“. And he was right. But it couldn’t get bigger and then ESA decided to give E3 a new format: no more music, no more giant screens, no more booth babes (one of the favorite and memorable attraction on the show floor for visitors). Doug Lowenstein then declared: “It is no longer necessary or efficient to have a single industry ‘mega-show’“. E3 was like a big show, trusted by big companies and small ones could barely be heard on their products; ESA then thought they had found a more efficient way for companies to get information to media (and consumers) but they failed.

The now called E3 Media and Business Summit is over, it took place in a hangar (Barker Hangar, Santa Monica) a few days ago and it was very deceiving, both for industry professionals and gamers. Deals in the video game industry are meant to be done before the end of May and the announcements for new games are made at the same time, that’s why E3 in May used to be the place to be to get the hot news. And that’s why this July event didn’t come with any surprise or huge announcements; Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Electronic Arts, Capcom, SquareEnix and the others were there but the excitement was gone. Maybe E3 became too big and it needed a radical facelift but the drastic solution killed the event and it’s a shame. This may well be the last E3 in any format. Let’s hope ESA will learn from this so badly organized new format.

Facts to remember: senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications George Harrison said Gameboy brand may never return (bad news), Sony Computer Entertainment announced the redesign of the PlayStation Portable and it will be 33% lighter (so-so). Wish list: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC), Halo 3 (Xbox 360, in September), Killzone 2 (PS3), God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP), Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS, already out in Japan).

Wait for more at the new (and only) European big video games event, during Leipzig Games Convention in August.

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