After years of being a industry and press-only event, the Entertainment Software Association announced today that the 2017 iteration of Electronic Entertainment Expo will be open to the public. 15,000 tickets will be available to the public, starting February 13, 2017. The tickets will start at $150 for an early bird discount, but jump to $250 afterwards.
Ticket holders will have full access to the the show floor and panel discussions. Geoff Keighley will be partnering with the ESA to provide special benefits focus on his own E3 programming, including interviews.
This follows last year's prosumer option, allowing publishers to invite a certain number of fans. That itself was in response to major publishers like EA and Activision moving off of the E3 showfloor and into separate events around the same time frame. The lack of those exhibitors meant a less packed showfloor in the Los Angeles Convention Center.
"The feedback we heard was clear--they wanted to play the games inside the convention center. In addition, exhibitors inside the convention center wanted to have access to the fans. So this year we're bringing the two together," ESA senior VP of communications Taylor told GameStop.
"It's a changing industry, and E3 has always evolved to meet industry needs and anticipate where we're heading together--as an event, as an industry, and as fans. The decision to open our doors to 15,000 fans was a strategic decision. It is thanks to our members and their vision and leadership that made this possible. We have a model that allows the business of the industry to continue for our business and media attendees and provides an opportunity for video games' biggest fans to experience the latest in innovative, immersive entertainment."
E3 has been a press and industry event, where both sides could meet and mingle. A number of hands-on meetings and interviews were already behind closed doors and in outside events, and given this change I expect that to grow in scope and frequency. The issue is also one of space: the LACC and the surrounding area are already full given the weight of the industry and press. Now add 15,000 more people fighting for space in the convention halls, local restaurants, and hotels.
Changing to a consumer event puts E3 in direct competition with other shows like PAX and Gamescom, but without the strong community focus, panels, and events that categorizes those events. It's still an industry event for the most part, so it lacks panels and such that allow players to gain insight to their favorite games. The tickets also don't allow for access to the press conferences, which are invite-only according to whoever is running the event. Essentially, if E3 wants to be open to the public, it needs to go all-in on what the public expects from a game convention.
The takes have been hot of course. The reactions range from "this is bad", to "this is good" and "why do you care?". The truth of the matter is we'll have to see if a public E3 is a boon or a bust.