LOS ANGELES This year's E3, which ran from June 13 to 15 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, drew one of its largest crowds ever as the annual gaming expo opened to the public for the first time. Formerly known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3 saw 68,400 fans, video-game-industry professionals, investor analysts, and retailers take over the convention center.
Organizers experimented with a public event in 2016 through E3 Live, a free gaming area located outside of the convention center. But the Entertainment Software Association, which organizes the event, decided to take the concept further this year by selling 15,000 show-floor tickets to fans.
“The feedback we heard was clear—[fans] wanted to play the games inside the convention center,” said ESA senior vice president of communications Rich Taylor in a press release last month. “In addition, exhibitors inside the convention center wanted to have access to the fans. So this year we're bringing the two together.”
Also new this year was E3 Coliseum, a two-day series of panels at the Novo at L.A. Live that featured big names such as Jack Black, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and James Gunn. It was open to all E3 badge-holders.
At the main event, the show floor displayed more than 2,000 products from 293 exhibitors including EA, Xbox, and Microsoft. Sony had the year's biggest booth, taking over a whopping 43,500 square feet, but Nintendo's colorful exhibit drew the crowds: It featured a large-scale recreation of New Donk City, one of the levels of the new Super Mario Odyssey game. Larger-than-life statues of Mario and other game characters provided popular photo ops, and massive billboards, Donkey Kong-theme street signs, and other nods to the franchise were placed throughout the 32,000-square-foot space.
Virtual reality played a large part in this year's booths, as more than 120 exhibitors displayed VR products. Software companies such as Ubisoft and Sony allowed guests to try out their latest VR games, while Meta.is created a fully immersive VR experience in a 10-foot dome; attendees experienced multiplayer gaming with high resolutions, surround sound, and advanced projection technology. Meanwhile, at Facebook's first-ever E3 booth, guests were able to capture and share photos using augmented-reality frames.
Major developers also hosted press events in the days prior to the expo, but Bethesda's stood out: On June 11, the video-game publisher transformed a studio in downtown Los Angeles into a video-game-theme fairground, complete with carnival rides, games, and a musical performance from the Chainsmokers. The event, dubbed Bethesdaland, featured different areas for each of the company’s most popular games, such as a Fallout-theme Ferris wheel and a Wolfenstein II-theme diner.
E3 2017 also broke records for social-media numbers across all channels, generating 15 million related posts across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Here’s a look at the booths, panels, brand activations, parties, and more that got attendees talking this year.