LOS ANGELES The Entertainment Software Agency’s newly downsized E3 Media and Business Summit—formerly known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo—debuted in Santa Monica last week from July 11 to 13 with a series of radical changes to the 12-year-old gaming convention. The ESA contracted show management to IDG World Expo C.E.O. Mary Dolaher, who acted as show producer and helped the agency reach its goal of creating a more intimate and businesslike environment.
Organizers scaled back the now invitation-only event from 70,000 to 3,000 attendees—consisting of select media, retailers, and financial analysts—and from 400 to 38 exhibitors. The need for a smaller space prompted the show's move from its previous home, the Los Angeles Convention Center, to the Barker Hangar and a series of Santa Monica hotels including the Viceroy and Fairmont Miramar. Buses shuttled attendees from hotel to hotel for press conferences and appointment-based in-suite meetings with game company executives, as well as to the software showcase at the hangar, where they could test video games. For their own press conferences, gaming giants Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo elected to tap into other venues, such as the Santa Monica High School amphitheater, which hosted Microsoft’s briefing.
Overall, Dolaher, who clocked the average shuttle ride at 12 minutes, was pleased with the outcome. “By all accounts—from the feedback we received from attendees and exhibitors—the event was a success,” she said. “Everyone felt they had ample time for one-on-one meetings, product demos, and that the format was conducive to a business-to-business event.”
Some invitees had a different take. Wired News reported that “nobody seemed to factor travel time into their schedules, so appointment and press conferences constantly ran late” and estimated that trips to the hangar were a good “20 to 30 minute ride in either direction.” Blog Crunchgear was less generous, citing 40-minute bus rides to go three miles and reporting, “Many attendees have complained that it was nearly impossible to make scheduled meetings, and completely impossible to see everything.”