Is it time E3 opened its doors to gamers?

E3 must find a way to incorporate more consumers into the show, say leading games industry commentators.

It follows the news that EA will not be holding its traditional E3 booth, and will instead run consumer-focused events in both Los Angeles and London.

Meanwhile, sources close to event organisers ESA tell MCV that involving consumers in E3 is ‘top of mind’ for the US trade body.

The relationship between creators and players is the most important issue and has been for over five years,” said UK industry veteran Andy Payne. A B2B show is great, but the reality is that the physical retailers are becoming less significant in terms of sales.

E3 has missed out and now the four PAX shows are king. There is always loads of room for more consumer-facing shows, and one in LA would make huge sense. That could be E3. Mix the B2B in, like Gamescom does, and they could be on to something. That way it can still be a centre piece for press and media and also allow developers and publishers to get close to their public. It’s not too late for E3, but they need to change fast.”

PCGamesN boss James Binns agreed: In these days of gamers creating more content than the media, the costs of those crazy bombastic stands may as well be offset against a bunch of super-engaged consumers. I’d have an absurd set of consumer halls and then super quiet meeting rooms so the trade can actually conduct some business and journalists can have access to developers.”

Kotaku UK editor Keza MacDonald said that E3 has essentially been a consumer event for quite some time now.” She said: A look at the show floor reveals that it is not exclusive to the trade. Gamescom manages to function as both a consumer event and a useful event for the media and the industry in Europe; why shouldn’t E3 do the same in the US?”

Most of the execs we spoke to agreed that a consumer element to E3 would be a benefit. But, it’s key this does not impact the trade side.

E3 is invaluable for touching base with key partners in the industry,” said Green Man chief Paul Sulyok. As such our objectives have a B2B focus and the event would hold less interest to us if it was a consumer-focused show.

B2B and B2C elements co-existed at other events, like Gamescom. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the case at E3.”

505 Games global marketing chief Tim Woodley added: E3 has become the loudhailer of our industry, a media event which is able to reach all four corners of the globe when the entire gaming audience is listening to us.

Allowing consumers at the show would give additional value to E3 for the assembled exhibitors and change its dynamic for the better, but relative to the hundreds of millions that pore over every piece of coverage, would be a drop in the ocean in terms of ROI.”

Koei Tecmo’s Marilena Papacosta feels that although E3 has a global impact, she’s not convinced it will in terms of gamer attendance.

E3, as an industry event, garners media and trade interest from across the globe,” she said. Will a consumer element do the same? I think not. Adding a consumer element to E3 would cater for the American audience – much like Gamescom caters 80 per cent for the German audience.

Adding a consumer element wouldn’t take away from the business side of the event – so long as the two were segregated.”

Yet not everyone is convinced.

I’m conflicted,” admitted Indigo Pearl boss Caroline Miller. You could argue that E3, is not reflecting the games market.

But if you let consumers in doesn’t it just become PAX? So yes it would lose its global appeal. Forcing publishers to choose between doing two big West Coast Shows within three months will mean the marketing budget ‘axe’ will have to fall somewhere. The behind the scenes glamour of E3 would be lost for sure.”

EA booth space already filled

The ESA has already filled the premium booth space previously owned by Electronic Arts.

EA had one of the biggest booths at the show, situated right at the front of South Hall. Although the firm will remain at E3 in the private business areas, it has decided not to renew its booth.

A source close to the event has told MCV that EA’s position was filled ‘very, very quickly’. And that despite the publisher’s decision to leave the show floor, sales are ‘looking good’.

E3 takes place between June 14th and June 16th.

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