Media were targeted with a dozen short press conferences from the big publishers over two days, with gifts just for attending and celebrities so close they could be poked.
Senior execs had no one to talk to other than journalists, because they were cut off from the usual networking. Global head of PlayStation Kaz Hirai cut a lonely figure at the SCEE drinks reception, with most press too bemused to approach him.
Less media meant less media coverage. It kinda works like that. There was nothing for the camera crews apart from the smooth format conferences from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
Sure, these were grand affairs as ever, but there was little excitement. But as LucasArts boss and ESA frontman Jim Ward said tentatatively as the event opened: “This is an experiment. You guys have to tell us if it works or not.”
They will, for sure. But few high ranking execs from the big companies that have always funded E3 will be overly critical.
This may not have been exactly the show they wanted, but it was the only E3 they could afford, in that they were tied to Los Angeles yet could not sign off the budget for another old-style shindig.
LA could still work: maybe downsized compared to a traditional E3, with booth sizes up to 300 square metres and a cap of 20,000 invited guests – something big enough to gain worldwide appeal but small enough to avoid spiralling costs.
Whether LA can wrestle this back and not lose out to the Sands Expo Center in Vegas or Javits Convention Centre in New York remains to be seen.
And surely May or June is much more adapted to this industry’s planning for the busy Christmas period than mid-July, which many believe is too late.
Anyway, next stop Leipzig for Game Convention. It’s going to be a corker. See you there.