"I hate E3 like this, either we need to go back to the old E3, or we'll have to have our own private events." John Riccitiello - EA
""E3 this year is terrible. The world used to come to E3. Now it's like a pipe-fitters show in the basement." Laurent Detoc - Ubisoft
"So while attending an E3 event like this, they might be given the impression that Nintendo is no longer focusing on the games that appeal to the core gamer, in fact we’re still working on many of those titles, but it’s just not the type of event where we’ll be showcasing that anymore." Shigeru Miyamoto - Nintendo
3 developers all saying the same thing, the current E3 model isn't working. One of the reasons for changing E3 to what we saw this week and last year was that every sneaky git with a buddy from the local Gamestop could get into the supposedly industry only event. However now the average gamers have gone and its just the press there's no sense of importance or grandeur, companies still feel like what they say is going to be filtered through the press because those are the only people they see. We can still watch the press conferences, but we can't make our enthusiasm or displeasure known through the usual whoops and cheers that used to punctuate an E3 press conference. Just look at the Guitar Hero World Tour section from Microsoft's presser, would those dead silences following the guy's prompts for applause or cheers or whoops or devil horns have been there if the audience was made up of gamers. The guys from the Gamestop, NeoGAF posters, Kotaku commenters and Destructoid C-Bloggers helped to make E3 what it was in 2006, a glorious 3-day blowout of news and atmosphere that was as much a hard sell on new products as it was a celebration of gaming as a culture (bring back Kentia!). The ESA have tried to keep that spirit there with E For All but forget that E For All is not E3. There aren't those early demos, there are no big press conferences, no famous developers walking around.
Everyone who used to go to E3 and made it their grand gaming pilgrimige every year has now found a new home, PAX. Yet PAX is still not E3. Lots of us will be going to or keeping an eye on Leipzig this year, Leipzig is getting the right pieces but its still not the giant we knew E3 as. No giant Prince of Persia banners hanging off the entrance, no Nintendo characters plastered on every flight of stairs, no chance of snagging one of the greatest game designers ever as he's heading for the toilet.
Moving back to the LACC only emphasised the problems. 5,000 members of the press went to the Convention Center, a building that back in the glory days of E3 would welcome 60,000 press, fans and blaggers to spend 3-4 days getting drunk and playing games. I remember the Monday before E3 2006, I was on the E3 Insider website looking at the photos of developers setting up their booths, the glorious decoration that adorned the LACC. Analysing and overanalysing the floor plan imaging West Side Story style battles between Nintendo and Sony reps when their booths were next door to each other. I haven't felt that level of obsession with an event since, I can't look at grand setting up pictures and imagine what riches the company responsible is planning for that mistical press event anymore, I can't marvel at insane queues, I can't piss myself laughing at the Tuesday morning stampede when the Expo opens for business.
E3 has only one way to survive, that's to involve the gamers and here's how I think they should do it. Make E3 into a music festival for games. Sell a limited number of tickets, 60,000 is a decent number so lets run with that, $70 for a 3-day ticket and that's $420,000 through ticket sales for the ESA, reserve free tickets for the press obviously, we still want them around. Tell developers that this time rather than having impressions of new games embargoed or filtered through the press that the gamers themselves are going to judge, the ones that hold the money they need will be deciding if the companies deserve it. Do this and watch every company up their game, sure demos will be polished to show off the best bits but we will still be playing it ourselves with our glorious internet skepticism. Noticing every clip, drop in frame rate, dodgy control, rubbish AI or boring gameplay and then those thoughts can be set free to the internet to be immortalised forever on Kotaku, NeoGAF or Destructoid where the developers are powerless.
Developers have lost the fear of gamers, by making E3 about us again that fear can be returned by removing the protective barrier of the press. I'm not saying the press are biased or bribed but every hands on and preview makes you want to play it yourself and see if its as good as they say. Open it all up and let us see close up and hands on who these companies really work for, the loyal fanbase who have stuck with them through every tough time or the fickle new fan who doesn't stick around but offers a quick buck. Only once we see it with our own eyes and play it ourselves can we reliably form any true judgement on a game or announcement's worth.
E3 can be saved, but only by going back to what it was. By going down this invite only road they are opening the door to TGS and Leipzig and even PAX, a fan-run event to overtake it as the seemingly biggest videogame show in the world.
Yep, I know the wall of text is nasty but bite me, its Sunday afternoon and I'm very, very tired.