Monday, July 31, 2006

E3 Changing... In Theory

The news all over the interwebs today is that the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is going to change due to certain top exhibitors taking umbrage with various media outlets, primarily the Blogosphere, and their respective coverage. I won't link a direct source since all of them say the same thing so hit Gametab and take your pick. The conclusion on all of them is the same though.

E3 as it has been for a decade will no longer be business as usual. By "business as usual" I of course mean "distract you with loud/large exhibits while showing you as little of the games as possible." Which of course is exactly what a trade show dedicated to video games needs to do. Anyone that's ever been to E3 in a professional capacity knows that it takes the rest of the month to recover enough to re-enter society. It's loud, pulsing, and you see roughly 20 percent of what you wanted to see IF YOU'RE LUCKY.

In the meantime, the expo gets to claim they had the largest numbers in their history and the concession stands at the LA convention center make a ton of cash. But all must not have been wine and roses following this year's convention, as pointed out by all the stories today. The short version can be summed up like so:
...Now in theory, these shows are primarily geared towards connecting businesspeople. To that end, E3 was (again, in theory) only open to industry folks and journalists. In recent years, however, the number of people attending have skyrocketed, in part because E3 registration was a moderately open process.

One source I spoke with told me that media access is indeed a problem, but it probably does not factor in greatly to the decision to downsize the show. Nevertheless, there are plenty of complaints from insiders about how "blogging" in particular has made the shows more difficult, if only because floor people are instructed to speak only of what they are approved to speak of, lest another half-baked headline make the rounds.
Bill Harris translated that last paragraph to mean the industry doesn't want to see negative comments during or after the event. I disagree with him to an extent.

I think Sony is the one who doesn't want to see any negative feedback period, regardless of what it does, and heavily restricting access is the expo's way of pacifying the 800-lbs gorilla. Sony has screwed itself into the ground so hard so frequently with the PS3 fiasco that it's no longer possible to take them seriously in any capacity. This is nothing more than their way of lashing out. Here's the catch though - higher numbers of show attendees equal more revenue for the expo itself and the city of Los Angeles.

As with all things, when there is this much money on the line calmer heads will eventually prevail. There may be fewer crowds next year, but when the expo organizers find themselves in the red by Day Two then emergency meetings will be called. Those restrictive changes will be "lessened" within the next six months after "serious negotiations" and "high-level meetings." They'll spin the precipitous drop in attendance, and resultant internet mockery, as an experiment that everyone learned something from. The next year, 2008, will see even more attendees than 2006 did as E3 changes the registration process to basically let everyone back in under the guise of something completely nonsensical.

Sony, on the other hand, is walking into an unmitigated disaster come this fall and next spring. The PS3 will be the high-dollar mega-ton bomb many suspect it will be, and Sony will spin like crazy as they watch another of their proprietary media formats go down in flames exactly as the others have. I've said this for a while now and will continue to beat the same drum. Sony is exactly where Nintendo was just prior to the N64. Sony's hubris has doomed the PS3 before it's even out of the gate which is terrifically unfair to us as consumers.

We don't even have the console in our hands to judge, yet here we are levying the death sentence upon it without so much as playing one game. Oh that's right. The games look identical to those on the 360 and all of the "exclusives" not personally made by Sony are no longer exclusives to the PlayStation name brand. Meanwhile, you don't see a PS3 version of Halo 3 anywhere in the pipe, do you?

Sony was harshly beaten down this year, and justifiably so. They showed us nothing impressive, told us it would cost a bundle, and that we'd all buy it anyway because they were Sony. We unanimously rejected that notion, and they sulked and took their ball to go home. Along the way they told the E3 organizers how "unfair" us bloggers were on poor little them, and that we should all be excluded indefinitely from E3. Sorry there, hombre, but this is a free country and a free interweb. I can say anything I damn well like wherever I like.

If you don't like it, then try offering up a counter-point other than "no fair."

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