The Entertainment Software Association made some waves today when they announced that, for the first time in E3 history, the annual trade show will be open to the public. Some see this as a big boon for average gamers while many who work in the industry are expressing concern. After attending the show for nearly a decade, I can see several benefits to opening the show up, as well as a handful of issues that could make E3 a nightmare to cover.
There's quite a bit of time between now and the mid-June showing of E3 2017. So while today's news was pretty surprising, I'm hopeful that both the ESA and exhibitors will be able to iron out any wrinkles that may arise due to the shifting landscape. Without much information to go on outside of the fact that the public will be able to attend this year's show, however, I've got a few concerns that I hope to see addressed in the next four months.
It's Still a Trade Show, Right?
Based on what we've heard from the ESA, it doesn't sound like E3 is changing its focus so much as simply opening the doors to a bunch of paying customers. My concern is that those folks might not know what, exactly, they're getting into. If they're expecting this to be like a standard convention, it's likely they're going to be pretty upset once they realize that, without an appointment, you'll likely be spending the vast majority of your time standing in line, waiting to play just a few games a day.
According to the announcement, the press conferences and one-on-one meetings will still be focused on the media, but there are still quite a few people in the industry who don't operate on the standard "by appointment" schedule. For folks who rely on walking the show floor and doing their coverage on the spot, an influx of bodies might make their job a heck of a lot harder to actually pull off. And for folks who are unable or choose not to set up meetings, my concern is that there will be no way to actually get hands-on time with the games thanks to what will almost certainly be much longer lines.
I saw this mentioned earlier today and cannot, for the life of me, track down the source, so apologies to whomever I'm semi-quoting from social media here. The basic argument was this: Video game conventions are great, which is why so many of them have started to pop up on an annual basis. However, for folks who are working in the industry, sometimes you need a big gathering like this to, you know, get some work done. If opening up the show to the public is going to hamper that, then it seems like folks who are there to do a job might be in for a rough ride.