Monday, July 31, 2006

E3 Finished as Big Exhibs Pull Support

As Next-Gen exclusively reported Sunday, all major exhibitors have effectively pulled their support from the show, prompting the majority of game publishers to also cancel plans for high-cost booths. The ESA will make an announcement later today that will attempt to add some gloss to this catastrophe, with some form of media-focused boutique event - branded E3 - taking its place.

Some gullible journalists, evidently blinded by a desire to do-down a rival scoop, have taken this as evidence that E3 is alive and well and merely being 'downsized'. But this euphemism doesn't change the facts. The decision by big manufacturers and publishers to walk away has left ESA in damage-control mode. As we reported yesterday, E3, in its present form, is dead.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) shindig has been a staple of game industry life since the mid-1990s. However, the larger exhibitors have jointly decided that the costs of the event do not justify the returns, generally measured in media exposure.

Publishers believe the multi-million dollar budgets would be better spent on more company-focused events that bring attention to their own product lines rather than the industry as a whole.

Well placed sources say the news that larger exhibitors were pulling out had prompted urgent meetings among publishing executives. They decided that, without the support of the larger software publishers and hardware manufacturers, there would be no point in continuing.

Whatever is announced today will be no more than a fig-leaf. The days of an industry event attended by all the major publishers, spending big money, are gone.

Calls to ESA staff are not being returned at present.

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