The mid-year annual E3 Expo used to be the main event of the video game industry, must like San Francisco Macworld Expo for the Apple community, or January’s Las Vegas CES show for almost the entire media and consumer electronics industry. The event attracted tends of thousands of visitors, all eager to get a glimpse of games and products aiming at the upcoming holiday season: the event developed a reputation for outlandish booths, extravagant excess, and exclusive events.
That all came to an end in 2006 when some of the biggest participants in the E3 Expo urged the Entertainment Software Association to scale back the event to a much smaller invitation-only shindig in Santa Monica. After one year, the E3 folks rolled out the E3 For All Expo back at the LA Convention Center, but the new events didn’t generate the buzz, hype, or clamor of the previous out-of-hand E3 Expos.
Now, the ESA has reversed course, announcing the 2009 E3 Expo will be back at the LA Convention Center June 2–4 2009, with a significant expansion of the show, including increased booth sizes, bringing a larger number and wider range of attendees into the show, along with an “intensified focus.”
“Video games are the fastest growing and most compelling sector of the entertainment industry,” said ESA CEO Michael Gallagher, in a statement. “This upgraded event will reflect the growth, innovation and excitement of our industry.”
The re-broadened E3 will be open to both ESA members and non-members, and organizers are expanding the list of companies that will be eligible to participate in the Expo, including both game and hardware developers, channel partners, and peripheral and accessory developers. However, although the ESA says additional information will be forthcoming, it appears the general public will not be permitted to attend the broader E3 Expo: for now, the event appears to remain a closed-door affair for the gaming industry, press, and several thousand of their closest friends.