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It's not much of a secret that E3, once one of the biggest and most vital video game trade shows around, has come across its fair share of obstacles in recent years, with various publishers and developers either choosing to now host their own events outside of the show or otherwise decline to show up at all.
Nintendo dropped the once-traditional E3 press conference back in 2013 in favour of holding its own livestream presentations around the same time as the LA expo. Since then, other companies have been following suit, with Sony declining to have any presence at all at E3 2019. Call of Duty publisher Activision also opted to ditch its traditional show floor presence at the most recent show in favour of behind closed door meetings, while Ubisoft and Bethesda also hosted their events off-site prior to the expo.
Just a few months after E3 2019 ended, things got an awful lot worse for the event's organisers, The Entertainment Software Association. Reports came to light that the ESA had allowed the personal details of hundreds of media, influencer, and analysts to leak online after it was discovered that a list of over 2,000 attendees was available on its official site, accessible and completely unsecured, leading to questions about the competence of the group.
All of this is to say that it's clear E3 as an event is in fairly rapid decline, and the ESA needs to do something big if it wants to ensure that the expo remains a relevant - and crucially - profitable endeavor. As reported by GameDaily, it looks as if the organiser is looking to do exactly that - though what it has planned might not be to everyone's tastes.
In an official E3 2020 pitch deck sent to ESA members (and obtained by GameDaily), it was revealed that there are plans to rebrand E3 as a "fan, media, and influencer festival" next year. The proposed overhaul includes a redesigned show floor, as well as paid celebrity and influencer appearances, with one example given being to get "members of the Los Angeles Lakers playing a basketball video game in front of fans or actors competing in a tournament."
In addition to the above, there are eight planned "experience hubs" intended to sit alongside more traditional company booths. It's understood that ESA members have already approved the new floor plan, but shot down the idea of paying celebrities to attend.
ESA members have also reportedly approved introducing an additional 10,000 badges for consumers, bringing the total number of visitors there to experience the event in a "fan" capacity to 25,000. This in turn could potentially lead to one industry-only day (Tuesday), before the public is allowed access on Wednesday and Thursday.
However, even with an extra 10,000 members of the public at E3 2020, it still wouldn't come close to being one of the bigger shows in the world. Industry analyst Daniel Ahmed pointed out on Twitter that E3 2019 saw 66,000 people attend compared to the 373,000 that showed up for Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.
Biggest gaming exhibitions / trade shows of by number of entries:- Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) September 16, 2019
Gamescom 2019: 373k
ChinaJoy 2019: 365k
Brazil Games Show 2018: 325k
Taipei Game Show 2019: 320k
Paris Games Week 2018: 316k
Tokyo Game Show 2019: 262k
G-Star Korea 2018: 235k
E3 2019: 66k
There are also plans to reduce the need for incredibly long queues on the show floor via some kind of Disney-style FastPass system that allows attendees to "register for a demo time window and come back later to avoid waiting for hours at a time for a single game." That won't eliminate queues altogether of course, and the rebrand pitch posits some kind of "queuetainment" (seriously their words) in an effort to keep those waiting in line for demos entertained.
Finally, the slides also make mention of "exclusive/appointment only activations for select attendees who will create buzz and FOMO," and "Paid Media Partnerships" that would enable the "ESA to control content and the messaging." How transparent the ESA would be about these potential paid media partnerships would of course be a crucial factor in E3's future, and the idea is always raising more than a few eyebrows.
It remains to be seen exactly what shape E3 2020 will take, but it'll be hugely interesting to see what the ESA does with it and, perhaps most importantly, whether they can truly rebuild the trust lost following the devastating leaks of E3 2019.
Featured Image Credit: Microsoft/E3
Topics: E3 2020
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