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From IGN:

E3, As We Know It, Is Gone

The annual event moves from "mega-show" to a small, intimate summer affair.

by David Adams

July 31, 2006 - For twelve years now, gaming professionals and geeks alike have gathered for a week of electronic entertainment frenzy. The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo has hosted giants and small players alike as companies present their latest game titles and hardware to media, retailers, and colleagues. The event crammed the Los Angeles Convention Center with blazing lights, blaring speakers, bustling crowds, and endless activity -- before spilling into flash press conferences and notoriously decadent after-hours parties.

Now, E3 as we've known it is a thing of the past.

The Entertainment Software Assocation, which hosts E3 each year, announced today that going forward the Expo will be an "intimate event" rather than a massive trade show, hosting press events and small meetings with media, retailers, and developers. According to Electronic Arts, the redesigned E3 will now take place in July.

The new E3 will still be hosted in Los Angeles, and will still offer game demonstrations. However, the significantly smaller format acknowledges that many companies -- especially larger outfits such as Sony, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft -- already host their own showcase events. Additionally, regional events such as the Tokyo Game Show and the Games Convention in Leipzig have lessened the need for what the ESA describes as a single "mega-show."

"The world of interactive entertainment has changed since E3Expo was created 12 years ago," commented ESA president Douglas Lowenstein. "At that time we were focused on establishing the industry and securing orders for the holiday season. Over the years, it has become clear that we need a more intimate program, including higher quality, more personal dialogue with the worldwide media, developers, retailers and other key industry audiences."

Prior to this morning's announcement, industry buzz suggested that larger companies had become frustrated with the high cost of E3 and decreasing benefits of marketing at the show. Additionally, preparing games for E3 often means taking development teams away from work on final versions while demonstration builds are polished -- a costly process.

Publishers such as Capcom and Electronic Arts have already announced their support for the new format. Electronic Arts told IGN that it is "very supportive" of the show's new approach, and plans to participate next July.

"When the show began 12 years ago, it was a great opportunity to meet with buyers, media and partners," an EA spokesperson explained. "Over time though, the timing has become disruptive to the studios and the costs have become expensive.

"The July event is less disruptive to our development schedule. We think that software shown in July will be a more accurate reflection of the games that will appear in stores later that year."

According to the ESA, the new E3 will take shape "over the next several months," as the trade organization finalizes what it hopes will be an event to better serve the industry.

"E3Expo remains an important event for the industry and we want to keep that sense of excitement and interest, ensuring that the human and financial resources crucial to its success can be deployed productively to create an exciting new format to meet the needs of the industry," said Lowenstein. "The new event ensures that there will be an effective and more efficient way for companies to get information to media, consumers, and others."

The first E3 was held in Los Angeles in 1995 by the Interactive Digital Software Association (now the ESA). At the time, a new generation of consoles was rising, as SEGA released the Saturn, Nintendo offered its Virtual Boy, SNK its Neo*Geo CD, and Sony entered the market with a little console called the PlayStation.

Last year's E3 admitted more than 60,000 attendees and hosted about 400 exhibiting companies, according to the ESA.

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While the E3 won't be as "cool" in the future, I think this change will lend itself to an increase in quality in the industry. Toning down E3 will remove it from some calandars as a major date that various things have to be ready for. Which means instead of getting something ready for E3, companies will look more toward the release of the game. And less money on the show means more money for development, which is always a good thing, at least theoretically.

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