USgamer Community Question: Will E3 Benefit from Going Public?

E3 is opening its doors to the general public. Good idea, or bad idea?

Article by USgamer Team, .

If you've ever dreamed of attending E3, you might get your chance this year. 15,000 tickets will open up to the general public starting at $150 a pop. Going public will definitely give gaming's biggest trade show a welcome infusion of income and those tickets will sell like hotcakes on a Sunday, but E3 is not a small spectacle to begin with. Will the extra bodies benefit the show in the long term? Let's talk.

Jaz Rignall Editor-at-Large

I talked about this in an opinion piece earlier this week, and the short answer is that I think it's a good thing in principle. But what I do worry about is what kind of experience E3 will deliver to the public. Traditionally, it's always been a trade-only show, so I'm just wondering how it'll transition to a hybrid business-consumer event.

Last year the ESA tested the waters by inviting 5,000 "prosumers" to E3, and that did create some massive lines of people - especially over at the Nintendo booth, where people queued for hours to get their hands on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This year, there'll be an extra 15,000 people cramming through the doors, and that could lead to some pretty severe crowds, and even longer lines of people.

The problem is that most E3 booths simply aren't designed to cater to the public, so they need to be re-engineered to be a little more user friendly, with more demo stations, and space so that lines of people can be properly organized and managed. I assume that's going to happen. If not, things could become a little messy.

Also, will the ESA be adding consumer-oriented panels, events, and attractions to E3? Or will the hefty asking price for a ticket - $149 for a day pass, and $249 for three days - simply buy you the opportunity to line up and play the latest games? While that is the main attraction, that doesn't sound as much fun to me as an event like PAX, which has a lot more things going on.

Like I said, I think that E3 going public is a good thing, and something that'll help keep the show feeling fresh and lively. I'm just hoping the organizers are up for the challenge. We'll just have to wait and see.

Mike Williams Associate Editor

As the show is right now? No. The problem is E3 is focused largely on business, developers, publisher, buyers, and press all meeting in a shared space to show off the wares of the next year and some change. The showfloor is supposed to entice people in and there are demos out there, but any demos that need to be shown to buyers or press are generally off-site or behind closed doors. Outside of the diaspora of the PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo booths, there aren't as many chances to just play random upcoming games.

If you've been to a PAX, you've had largely the same experience. The difference is shows like PAX are tailored to the gaming community. Imagine PAX with just the showfloor; that's E3. But PAX encompasses so much more, including keynote speakers, extensive panels, tournaments, live interviews, and more. E3 doesn't have any of that. The press conferences that characterize the show can already be streamed at home and are still invite-only.

Sitting the middle won't help E3. It's either an industry show, or it needs to evolve and expand into a community show. E3 was largely alone in its previous space: Gamescom had industry days, but it's not in the United States, and GDC is focused on developers, not publishers or press. Now, it's moving into the space occupied by four PAX events (PAX Dev is like GDC), Gamescom's open days, Minecon, Twitchcon, RTX, and more.

What does E3 have to offer that those shows don't? If you can answer the question, you win the prize. As E3 stands currently, it doesn't have anything. But eventually, I think it can get there. I just don't know what "there" looks like.

Nadia Oxford Associate News Editor

Despite being a games writer since 2004, I've not completely burned out on E3. Maybe that's because I've attended a grand total of two shows. Still, the members of our team who attended E3 2016 were a little surprised to discover they enjoyed themselves, and that E3 is as lively as ever.

I'm hoping the influx of new blood won't upset that pleasant chemistry this year. Not because I'm worried about "the plebes invading the show space;" quite the opposite. When you don't have to dart from interview to interview, and if you understand it's a trade show first and foremost (and not a convention) E3 is interesting to take in. But E3 is a business-oriented show first and foremost, and the extra bodies and jacked-up hotel prices are going to stress out industry workers who come to E3 to do a job first and foremost. Sure, people scoff at the idea of the "poor games press" who have to deal with three days of nothing but video games, oh no -- but working E3 is the furthest thing from a vacation that you can think of.

If you want to attend E3 as a kind of pilgrimage, that's cool. But there are tons of game-related gatherings that are way more fun for fans. If you're into cosplay and panels and community, I can't recommend going to E3 over, say, PAX -- and I think infusing E3 with public blood will just make the show more crowded and confused.

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Comments 15

  • Avatar for Mega_Matt #1 Mega_Matt A year ago
    I posted this on the other article about this but I suppose it's worth posting it again because I like the story.

    "Interesting. When I was younger I would have jumped all over this. Way back in 2003 I planned a trip to LA around the week e3 was happening. My plan was to ask someone that was leaving for their pass to get in. To my surprise the first person I asked said yes! So I "snuck" in, played some games, saw some cool stuff, and enjoyed the sights of people getting G4 tattoos... Good times."

    It does seem like a strange move to let in the public, but maybe it won't matter. Who knows? I don't.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #2 Roto13 A year ago
    I think I'm glad I'm not going this year, because the unwashed masses would make it a lot harder to get stuff done.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #3 CK20XX A year ago
    It sounds like a great idea at first, but then seems less good as you start to think it through. That's probably why even the editors who say "yes" here seem to end up saying "no" as they explain themselves. Worst case scenario: the show completely implodes when industry staff decide they'd rather not attend because of what E3 is becoming and the public decides not to attend because it's not as good as all the other conventions out there.
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #4 chaoticBeat A year ago
    I might wade through a crowd like that to see Arcade Fire but I can wait until video games are on the shelf at the store. I would not subject myself to that madness unless I was a games journalist. ;)
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #5 NiceGuyNeon A year ago
    I don't understand the infatuation with E3 to even care if it's good or bad. I don't care that it's written about or covered, so if people want to pay $200 to go to an event to play some demos be my guest. I'll be at the beach.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #6 VotesForCows A year ago
    I'll probably be going to EGX in England instead...cos geography.
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #7 Mooglepies A year ago
    As someone who used to go to the Eurogamer Expo every year but now avoids it like the plague - if E3 continues to focus on the games, it'll still be good. EGX started to turn to crap once the advertisers, gaming trinket shops and other salesmen started to take the prime floor space at the expense of the games,) and the numbers of booths to play at got cut down significantly.

    I'm sure it'll be fine.
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  • Avatar for TernBird #8 TernBird A year ago
    Considering how Tim Schafer can't sneeze at E3 without every gamer on Twitter and Operation Rainfall knowing about it... what difference does it make that E3 is finally open to the public? What'll change? We already get all the info, journalists make sure of that. I can understand some mega-fans wanting to be first in line to try that buggy Call of Duty: Duty Calls alpha that's just one big bull-shoot, several months in advance, but that's about it.

    This is one big "meh" to me.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #9 riderkicker A year ago
    I agree with what Jaz says, it's gonna have to change a lot for it to be consumer friendly but not like Comic-Con. The people at E3 can certainly do whatever it wants, but it will have to try to do more than just opening up the demo booths to the public. It's in Los Angeles right? So it will also have to distinguish itself from the city's other major events.
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  • Avatar for Thetick #10 Thetick A year ago
    can't they just do a couple of closed press days and then open it up for the weekend for the public?
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  • Avatar for AxiomVerge #11 AxiomVerge A year ago
    I actually prefer E3 simply because it is so focused. At PAX it's mostly gamers/fans, so you can easily spend the whole show without getting facetime with a single journalist. E3 is industry only so you overall get more coverage, which ultimately means more people learn about your game. Also it's To the extent that grown up professionals walking around a giant expo advertising different ways to splatter bad guy guts is adult.
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #12 WiIIyTheAntelope A year ago
    I see it as a plus. Get the games out in front of fans and build some excitement. Games writers over the past couple years are more interested in talking politics than games anyways. And it's not as if any of the sites are growing in readership..they're all on the downslide into complete irrelevance as youtubers and twitch continue to eat their audience.
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  • Avatar for chelseamathis #13 chelseamathis A year ago
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  • Avatar for carolgilbert #14 carolgilbert A year ago
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #15 Tetragrammaton A year ago
    It's really, really hard to say. I think it'll be a positive for PERCEPTION of E3, but a loss for E3's USEFULNESS. The change will get good press and increase the spectacle on display, but nothing will really change as large developers pull out to do their own shows and backroom showcases will remain closed to the public.
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  • Avatar for docexe #16 docexe A year ago
    I’m skeptical this will work well in the current format of the show. I wonder if the best approach would be rather to do something similar to the Tokyo Game Show: the first three days open only to business and press, with the weekend open to the general public.
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  • Avatar for I-m-not-Daredevil #17 I-m-not-Daredevil A year ago
    Despite its deminishing influence, the name E3 has the same effect on me as Comic Con's does - it inspires fever-dream like excitement that I don't often feel. Transitioning into a Comic Con like model - but for games! - makes a lot of sense to me.
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