Longer hours are E3’s answer to the industry-gamer conundrum

Last night E3 announced that it was opening sales again to the public with its ‘Gamer Passes’ on February 12th. After last year that’s unlikely to provoke a positive reaction from the industry, which on the whole seemed to be unhappy at the hectic show floor and the struggle to get from meeting to meeting.

The ESA though thinks it’s hit upon the answer by extending the hours of the show. Essentially the show floor will open an hour earlier in the morning and close an hour later at the end of the day.

Those with Gamer Passes however will have to wait until 2pm on the Tuesday and 12pm Wednesday. Giving the industry three hours of grace before the extra numbers are added to the show floor. The Thursday, by which time most of us have largely finished is open to everyone from 9am.

Now that new structure certainly gives the industry some time to get things done in the morning on the first two days. However, it means six extra hours that the booths need to be manned for across the show, and it was already a long day for exhibitors who usually arrive many hours before the doors open, so plan for additional staffing.

Some booths could simply shut early instead, but most will then at least need security to protect them until the end of the day.

All that said, MCV remains supportive of the ESA’s efforts to bring gamers into the show. The line between consumer and influencer has long evaporated and engaged with the most passionate players is essential in order to compete with other entertainment formats – it’s called interactive entertainment for a reason, after all.

Some have rightly argued that events such as PAX and EGX serve this purpose, but they simply don’t draw the kind of international media attention that E3 does and having gamers on the showfloor (where they’ve always been to some extent) helps create an atmosphere that benefits such coverage.

“Gamers raise the energy of E3 to a fever pitch, reinforcing its place as the world’s preeminent event for video games,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA. “We are excited to fuel that passion and enhance the gamer experience at E3 by extending show hours and adding a third day to the wildly popular E3 Coliseum.”

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