Since 1995, the E3 conference has been a staple of gaming, and a great source of information for the gaming public. The main issue however, is that that same public has generally not been able to attend, as the conference has historically only been open to vendors, developers, and the press.
All that, however, seems as though it’s about to change.
On February 8th, 2017, the Entertainment Software Association – E3’s organizing body – announced that there would be an allotment of 15,000 tickets sold to anyone in the general public on Monday, February 13th.
The price point for the tickets has been set at $250 each, but purchasers can also take advantage of an early bird discount on February 13th, which lowers the price to $150. These tickets will grant attendees access to the show floor, all panel discussions, and many other events between Tuesday and Thursday of the week of the conference. The ESA has said that it will be partnering with Geoff Keighley (a major media name to us gamers), in order to provide ticket holders with access to several special benefits which Keighley’s E3 programming has in store, like developer interviews, for instance. The Entertainment Software Association will be announcing full details on these benefits, as well as other elements of the public plans for the conference in the coming weeks, so interested parties should definitely keep an eye out for that.
In addition to the standard tickets, E3 will also be making business passes available. These will provide access to a business lounge, preferred entry to the convention center, and more. The ESA is counting on this aspect being appealing to analysts, lawyers, advertisers, and executives who wish to attend the conference.
The public has been calling for E3 to open up to us “regular folk” for several years now. The organizers of E3 conducted its E3 Live Event (in Los Angeles, CA) in 2016, and garnered what they called “incredible attendee enthusiasm”. With this coming to light, the ESA decided that the next logical step was to grant more public access by swinging open the doors of the Los Angeles Convention Center for this year’s programming, so that fans could get up close & personal with all the action.
Rich Taylor, E3’s VP of Communications, told long-running website Gamespot in an interview, “The feedback we heard was clear–they wanted to play the games inside the convention center. In addition, exhibitors inside the convention center wanted to have access to the fans. So this year we’re bringing the two together. It’s a changing industry, and E3 has always evolved to meet industry needs and anticipate where we’re heading together–as an event, as an industry, and as fans. The decision to open our doors to 15,000 fans was a strategic decision. It is thanks to our members and their vision and leadership that made this possible. We have a model that allows the business of the industry to continue for our business and media attendees and provides an opportunity for video games’ biggest fans to experience the latest in innovative, immersive entertainment.”
With fans, developers, and industry insiders seemingly questioning the relevance of E3 on a yearly basis, and several companies having pulled out of the conference in the past, it’s clear that the industry is in flux. In addition to this, it’s clear that those conferences which have been open to the public (like PAX & Gamescom), have retained their popularity. Therefore, with a juggernaut like E3 seemingly lagging behind in this respect, the question of relevancy is fairly valid. Mr. Taylor went on to mention, “E3 has a reputation around the world as the place where video game hardware and software launches happen. Last year, E3 generated more than 65 billion media impressions around the globe. That doesn’t happen accidentally, and it’s a testament to E3’s strength, its connection to the fans, and the event’s position in the industry.” That level of attention alone is what will most certainly drive the ESA’s decisions about opening the conference to the public in the future.
With the Electronics Entertainment Expo being a constantly evolving beast, it’s important for organizers to really listen to what the public has to say, and not just pay attention to investors, developers, and industry folks. WE the gamers are ultimately the reason that they are able to have these events; as without us, there would be no one to buy the games.
This year’s E3 conference will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, from June 13th – June 15th. The show has already lined up more than 200 exhibitors, and is still updating the list of them on the conference website. It’s not yet clear whether E3 2018 will also be opened up to the public, but the ESA has stated that the show will remain in Los Angeles through 2021.
What do you think, dear readers? Are you excited about the prospect of the public finally being able to attend a show of this magnitude, or do you think it might be the ESA grasping at straws to stay on top? Let us know in the comments!