Future proofing E3

E3 2013 looks set to be the most exciting shows in years, with new consoles and new IP taking centre stage. But could this be just one last hooray for a dying part of the games industry? MCV speaks to Rich Taylor, senior VP at E3 organiser ESA, to find out why this year’s expo really does have an eye on the future.

You survey your attendees every year. What did they say after last year? What have you changed?

This year there has just been some refinement around the edges. We already had some presence from mobile and online gaming last year, but we decided following the feedback we got that we’d have a dedicated area for that. Our online and mobile pavilion will let folks experience those games in the right setting, away from the triple-A bombast.

What sort of companies are signed up for this area?

You will see some very recognisable names in that area, but also some emerging ones, too.

Was there ever a real risk of E3 moving away from LA?

Our job is to put on the highest quality show. So we had to look at what location would satisfy that most economically. Because of the great impact E3 has on the area, we had a number of locations that wanted us. But after surveying it all, we found that LA was the best place.

THQ has closed and 2K Games is not on the showfloor this year. Have you filled these gaps?

In terms of the use of the showfloor, anyone there will not feel like it is a show that is missing anything. We will obviously miss having those you have named on the floor itself, but one of the good things about having a show as popular as E3 is, there are folks that are always eager to be a part of it.

What do you make of Nintendo’s decision to not hold a major conference this year?

I’d have to defer to Nintendo for their strategic thinking behind that. They have expressed clearly that they are a very strong part of E3. Nintendo is just adopting a different approach to their announcements.

Last year analysts questioned E3’s relevancy in a market that’s focusing less on retail. Do you feel that, with Xbox One and PS4, that E3 2013 will answer those critics?

New hardware is one more piece that does speak to our relevancy. That, plus the ability to get hands-on with the new titles.

Publishers are still using E3 to tease out and unveil new products, you saw the amazing response to Watch Dogs last year. E3 is the best megaphone and amplifier for this industry, from those hardware manufacturers right down to the emerging developers and publishers.

When the eyes of the world are trained on the LA for those days, it is a great opportunity to tell and to sell. I think regardless of the size of the company or what the product is, people see a real unique opportunity to get the message out just because of the amount of people that are paying attention and listening during E3. That’s even truer in this day of live-streaming events, social media amplification via Twitter and Facebook. When folks are really pushing out their creativity at E3, it goes far beyond the walls of the Convention Center.

Surely smaller companies will struggle to get their voice heard at an E3 where PS4 and Xbox One are making so much noise?

The announcements at E3 will bring a lot of attention from traditional and less traditional media outlets. I think a lot of folks are recognising that in different ways. If you have an exciting game you have coming out, you will take every opportunity to let people know about it. And if the game is high quality, which so much of our industry is producing these days is, it will find the eyeballs and the ears and eventually the customers. E3 is a great place for that.

What are you hoping to see at E3 this year?

Sony and Microsoft have done their events and hopefully E3 will be the first real opportunity to engage with their products. I am excited by that and what Nintendo is doing with its next generation of games. But there are always surprises. There are always games that become the game you can’t wait to play. I am looking forward to seeing what game, or games, that will be.

Are you doing anything or offering any help to encourage smaller publishers and indie developers to come to E3 this year?

The greatest thing we can do is provide the stage and forum that we have in the form of E3. There are opportunities to exhibit in large and small ways. We have talked about online and mobile pavilion, so that is a great place to stand on equal footing with the giants of the industry.

I think we are a very inviting place. And anyone that thinks E3 is exclusively a place for titans is mistaken. This year we are having a college competition with a number of universities – we have video game design programmes in the US and we are bringing the best of those to E3. So not only are we looking at the developers currently in the market place, we are looking at the next generation and letting them have space on the floor and show what they can do.

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