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Joystiq interviews ESA president about E3 2009


Just a few minutes ago we got off the phone with ESA president and CEO Mike Gallagher. We had 10 minutes to ask our list of questions about today's announcement that E3 2009 would return to the show's over-the-top roots. We covered a range of topics: from booth babes to how this new show will avoid the pitfalls that brought us the downsized E3 in the first place. This will be Gallagher's first time being in charge of a "real E3" since taking over for Doug Lowenstein two years ago.

Joystiq: If you had to give E3 2009 a six word or less tag line, what would it be? We went with "The b*tch is back" this afternoon, but what's yours?

Mike Gallagher: The must attend event of 2009

What is the anticipated attendance? Is there a cap?

MG: No cap, we have expectations that it'll be higher than the previous two years. It could be in the neighborhood of 40,000 or more. We're not focused on the turn of the turnstiles, but the success of the event.

Is it out of the realm of possibility that we'll still see public dates announced later?

MG: I wouldn't expect that.

Was that something that was kicked around at one point?

MG: We sent out a survey and gathered feedback. That was something that was part of the discussion, but didn't receive stand alone attention.

Have non-ESA member publishers Activision-Blizzard, LucasArts or id said it will attend?

MG: We just made the announcement today, they're more than welcome to attend.

Will the ESA allow publishers to have "booth babes" (and dudes)?

MG: Why did I believe this would come up? I would just refer you to the specific companies.

But will you allow them?

MG: There will be an allowance for publishers to make their booths active, captivating and energizing. There will be standards like in previous years.

How many halls will the event take up?

MG: Four halls

Will Kentia Hall be used in a similar way as previous years?

MG: Yeah. This is my first year, but I believe so.

What's the new structure of the show in response to?

MG: It's in response to the feedback. And in recognition of the excitement of our industry today. We are the preeminent form of media and the show needs to reflect that.

Is there a worry that the show will be larger, but publishers won't want to sink the money into larger booths again? Has that issue already been discussed with the companies?

MG: I would say we've sized the booths for all publishers. The third-parties will have the option to have the same size booths as the hardware publishers.

Won't this get us started on the same path of bloated E3s, which originally brought us downsized shows?

MG: No, this is a much smarter approach. We're integrating the best practices from the last few years, including the suites format. We intend to keep those improvements. We don't intend to fall into the same issue again.

How is this event learning from previous events?

MG: We've run big shows and we've run small shows. This is the must attend event of 2009.

If I'm from, can I get press credentials? Will I gain access if I'm a GameStop associate?

MG: Here's the deal. There will be a credentialing process for media. Such as a credit cards, paycheck stubs or W-2s. For bloggers there will be a case by case.

And GameStop associates?

MG: We're excited to have them come, but we will leave that up to retailers. That's something we'll be talking to them about.

Anything that we didn't think to ask that you'd like to add?

MG: I would say that we couldn't be more delighted that we're going to have a show that represents this creative and dynamic industry. We're looking forward to it and the first week of June.

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