E3 Preview: Giant Gaming Show Has Virtual Platform, Map App

By Alesandra Dubin June 4, 2012, 9:45 AM EDT

E3's annual spectacle brings tech-heavy events, exhibits, and press conferences to downtown L.A.

Photo: Nadine Froger Photography

The Entertainment Software Association's buzzy Electronic Entertainment Expo—popularly known as E3—will kick off on Tuesday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Each June, the show takes over downtown with its annual menagerie of models, costumed characters, and jumbo props mingling among 48,000 high-energy attendees. The massive trade show for the computer and video game industry draws a trade-only crowd of game industry folks, plus media and industry analysts from more than 80 countries for the splashy, visual, interactive program. The slate of happenings includes video game unveilings, demos, and announcements live on the show floor, plus press conferences from major hardware and software publishers, including the likes of Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo of America, and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Understanding—and tapping into—the broad consumer crossover appeal of the show, organizers launched in 2011. The virtual platform, developed in cooperation with IDG Entertainment/GamePro Media, allows consumers to share the trade-only experience. It offers exclusive in-depth interviews, behind-the-scenes looks at the event, and previews into anticipated computer and video games. Also included are pre-show coverage and a steady stream of exhibitors’ virtual booth content such as announcements, screens, and video trailers.

Each E3 exhibitor is included on E3 Insider through its own virtual booth, and visitors can rate their interest in company announcements through voting polls and real-time social data that reveals the most-viewed and the most-anticipated games of the show. An interactive show floor map, using a real-time Web communication platform powered by Kaazing, displays a so-called “heat map” identifying where virtual crowds are gathering. Using this feature, site visitors can immediately follow the top stories and games at the event.

The platform allows exhibitors to track how many global users are accessing their virtual booths and news outside the show in real time—adding huge value for exhibitors, although E3 has not raised their cost to show. And, it’s available in a downloadable format—part of the show’s overall environmentally friendlier approach, which also includes a virtual press office that banishes physical press kits from the media center.

Further innovating technologically, E3 also offers a mobile app, and the “MapYourShow” element serves as an interactive floor plan to help exhibitors and attendees map their trips through the show floor, preview new products, and save it all under a personal profile. E3 is fully integrated with social media, with 132,000 Facebook likes and 70,000 Twitter followers.

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