E3 Expo Deflating to More Intimate Event

After hitting a series of power-ups which this year saw the videogame-centered E3 Expo explode to over 400 exhibitors, 60,000 attendees, and over half a million square feet of show space, the Entertainment Software Association has announced the 2007 E3 Expo will be not be the same sort of mammoth trade show, instead appearing as a “more intimate” event focused on small, targeted meetings with media, retail, and development groups and press events. Details of the 2007 show will be announced over the next few months, although the ESA plans to keep the event in Los Angeles.

“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. The new event ensures that there will be an effective and more efficient way for companies to get information to media, consumers, and others,” said ESA President Douglas Lowenstein.

E3’s move towards a smaller show surprises virtually no one in the industry, although it certainly must come as a disappointment to fans and enthusiasts who flocked to the show floor for a glimpse of what the video game world would be offering over the next year. As developers and companies look to maximize the impact of their advertising and promotional budgets, they’re finding that—in the age of the Internet and ever-more-ubiquitous broadband—big trade shows are no longer a strong value proposition for the companies. The costs of exhibiting at many shows are quite high between building, transporting, and assembling impressive booth displays—often at astonishing rates—transporting and paying booth staff, managing media events and providing press access to key personnel, etc.—not to mention the basic gamble participating on a dog-and-pony show which might only serve to put yor company in a bad light (as happened at this year’s E3, seen as a debacle for Sony and a big win for Nintendo).

Increasingly, companies look to reduce their costs by renting space near trade shows (often in hotel suites) and hosting private events for media and partners so they can communicate with key players without incurring the costs of putting a major exhibition. Similar cost concerns led to the cancellation of the once-mammoth COMDEX trade shows, and even more-targeting shows like Macworld Expo have scaled back significantly in size and frequency.

The ESA expects the 2007 E3 Expo to move from May to July so participants will have more “showable” products aimed at the upcoming holiday season, and attendance will be invitation-only.

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