Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about the future of technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment:
This week's announcement that the Entertainment Software Association will euphemistically "evolve" the Electronic Entertainment Expo into a more "intimate" event (a premise hard to imagine given the attire of most female videogame characters) saw the once-thriving event accompany the ranks of fallen shows like Comdex, PC Expo and the summer Macworld Expo.
The summer Macworld Expo show disappeared because IDG's events group could not reach agreement with Apple on the venue, and Apple held even greater sway over the Mac market during those negotiations than it did in the '90s, Similarly, E3 was scaled back dramatically primarily because the hardware oligopoly of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo pulled out even though Electronic Arts was also allegedly involved in the negotiations
With each demise, particularly those champions of online media have proclaimed the death of the big tech trade show in the U.S. However, at least two events focused on consumer technology have grown significantly over the past few years. DigitalLife, held in New York and developed by Ziff Davis's events group, is not only open to the public, it's explicitly aimed at it. It's timing just before the start of the holiday shopping season lets consumer technology companies prime the promotional pump. Return on investment is easy to justify as a direct marketing initiative. The changes to E3 should strengthen DigitalLife's relevance to videogame marketing.