OPINION: ‘E3 can learn from Leipzig’

The inflammatory comments from the two men spearheading the Xbox and PlayStation businesses to MCV this week demonstrate that – whatever you might have heard elsewhere – E3 really matters to this industry.

Don Mattrick and Kaz Hirai’s forthright opinions on how their respective brands have fared at this year’s show indicate both their unswerving passion for the business and how the annual industry jamboree in LA has retained its status as the show that everybody wants to ‘win’.

But it’s equally clear that E3 must change if it is to hold on to this significance. High profile criticism from EA boss John Riccitiello this past week echoed the feeling throughout the LA Convention Center, as many sat and wondered why, with booming sales and the emergence of gaming as the new entertainment medium of choice, an industry as exciting and creative as ours can only manage to fill a tiny proportion of the LA Convention Center.

Of course, organiser ESA has brought this on itself. After the last ‘real’ E3 in 2006, its members agreed that there was no need for colossal stands, speakers and plasma screens and called for prudence.

What has happened since, with the benefit of hindsight, has severely dented the show’s standing as the high point in the industry calendar. A crackdown on bloggers, blaggers and other industry hangers-on is always welcomed; a severe reduction of the show’s global influence is not.

Take a step backwards and the solution ESA is looking for seems to be staring it in the face.

In the days of attendances pushing 60,000, E3 became a bizarre hybrid of trade and consumer show. While it brought excitement and glamour, it also became more troublesome for retail and other trade visitors to actually sit down and do business.

Leipzig Games Convention has proved that a combination of the two, with dedicated trade and consumer days for each audience, can thrive and grow at an astounding rate, even in a logistically-challenging location.

SCEE president and CEO David Reeves is clearly a big supporter of the Leipzig show – and while he joked that it might be easier to get out to LA than Leipzig this year, once again Sony plans to make announcements of global importance to those braving the wilds of Eastern Germany.

If E3 took the Leipzig template and ran with it, we might be able to turn around a show that currently looks increasingly under threat of total closure. Without it, the industry would be a much sadder place.

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