E3 is by far the most anticipated conference in the video game world. People from all over the world fly into LA to spend the week playing video games, getting exclusive swag, and partying up with the wizards behind once of the most profitable forms of entertainment in the last 20 years.
But with that exclusivity comes demand. I mean who doesn’t want to go to the biggest video game conference? Every year E3 gets bigger, and every year E3 has to retool their admissions requirements so that the attendees are regulated.
Back in 2005-2006, E3 was starting to reach its boiling point. The attendees were crowding the show floor and lines to certain booths required more than a 6 hour crawl (there were less attendees in 2006, but the crowds were concerning). It was then the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced shortly after E3 2006 that they were going to downsize their outfit and move to Santa Monica on an invitation-only.
While the regulation of the crowds was a success, E3 had become a media black hole. The show went from 70,000 attendees to a paltry 10,000 in 2007 and 2008. There were reports of certain media outlets paying off attendees to “fill” video feeds to give the illusion of a crowded event. The attempt to control the growing event had become an iron fist and suddenly it worked against the ESA. General consensus was that in these years, E3 was a failure. Developers were disappointed and many big name studios pulled their companies from the event permanently.
But in 2009, The ESA decided to go back to its original format, trying to rekindle the fire that was once blazing before. It was then that E3 started its rise back to the top. For many people, E3 2009 was the best it had ever been, but the concern with an overcrowded convention started to return. It wouldn’t happen that year, but it was going to happen soon.
So in the years that have followed, the ESA started to do a lot of tinkering to regulate the crowds. One year, they shut off all local media passes; if you just happened to live in California and were press (that wasn’t a big name network), you were denied. Last year, E3 made the sudden decision during their registration period to close off all students; essentially cutting off the future of the industry. During E3 last year, security quadrupled down on their policies and required EVERY person with a badge to show government issued ID every time you entered a convention hall.
This year it’s getting more regulated. Most of the attendees need to pre-register; media qualifications have become more strict; you can’t just have a site that generates 20,000 hit a month, you need to be highly ranked on third party website tracking services and have a certain bounce rate.
So what does that mean? It won’t stop our site from reporting on E3; we already have a team there and we’ll be reporting the best we can during this event. However, with the amount of growth the industry has gone over the last 10 years, how can the ESA make sure that E3 is the best show without overcrowding?
Only time will tell.