Next-Gen has the scoop: Doug Lowenstein, the president of the Entertainment Software Association is expected to announce within the next 48 hours that E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the definitive video games show, has been cancelled. Industry sources have told Next-Gen that the reasoning behind this move is primarily one of cost versus return. Publishers aren't getting the media attention that they expect from the large amounts of cash that they're putting down to exhibit at the show.
Apparently publishers believe that the multi-million dollar budgets allocated to E3 would be better used on smaller, specific shows where publishers get all the limelight. There's the possibility of a smaller show taking place in May next year, but as Next-Gen puts it, "it's clear that the days of an industry event attended by all the major publishers, spending big money, are gone."
Check out our commentary on the cancellation at the continued link below.
Joystiq's good, the bad and the ugly commentary on E3's cancellation.
First up, the good.
- Our jobs get easier. During E3, the Joystiq team churned out 100 posts a day over the duration of the event, but there were probably still things that we missed. If there are multiple shows throughout the year, we'll be able to cover events in more detail and breadth.
- You, the reader, get a much more even flow of information. As one of the team members that didn't attend the show, I had a hard job keeping up with the flow of content. Now that E3 is gone, I can look forward to consuming my gaming news in smaller, easier to digest chunks.
- More access to the public? E3 was not accessible to the public, and was a strictly over-18 trade and press show. Hopefully future shows will split the show between press/trade exclusive days and open-access days so regular consumers can try out the latest games and hardware.
- A cooler atmosphere. E3 is was a very stressful place to be, with every booth being designed to be as loud and as bright as possible in order to attract as much attention as possible. Now that E3 is gone, publishers and developers won't have to spend so much money hiring dancers and huge booths. In other words, the games will have a chance to shine through.
- Worldwide game shows, not just L.A? Due to the expected fragmentation that the E3 cancellation is expected to bring, we can probably expect more regional shows designed to target individual demographics in different countries.
- More focus on indies? Independent developers either couldn't attend E3 due to the high cost, or if they did, they were drowned out by the big publishers and their massive booths.
- Less excitement? Like a little kid waiting for Christmas, E3 excited gamers the world across. They knew that come early May, they'd be reading about the games they'd be playing for the next year. The separate, publisher exclusive shows expected after E3 will probably mean less of this Christmas kid excitement. Or, the same excitement, but in smaller doses throughout the year.
- Our jobs get harder. Journalists and people covering the games industry will have to travel further and more often in order to cover the gaming industry. That could mean that smaller events get less coverage as the press prioritize their travel budgets.
- No more "big three" faceoff. One of the most entertaining parts of E3 was watching Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo try to one up each other.
- Lots more "big three" faceoffs. Imagine a world with Nintendo Space World, Sony SUPER EVENT, and MS X-event. Doesn't sound too appealing does it?
- Gamespot states that this is merely a downsizing and relocation. That effectively means the same thing as a cancellation. Next year's E3 will be a shadow of a memory of previous E3s. If the ESA doesn't manage to get the big guys back on board, another organizer will step in within the next 18 months with a show that will take E3's crown as the king of gaming trade shows.
- Don't expect any major gaming trade shows to take place next year. If the Gamestars Live/ECTS fiasco in the UK in 2004 was anything to go by, we can expect very little in the way of trade shows next year. 2008 will feature a lot of smaller, developer orientated shows, and by 2009/10 we'll be booking our tickets to go to E3's replacement.
- In the short term, GDC is going to get big, very big. As the next biggest American gaming show after E3, expect a lot of next year's big gaming news to come out of San Fransisco.
[Update #2: added the "bad" commentary. Stay tuned for miscellaneous "ugly" commentary.]
[Update #3: added the "ugly" commentary.]