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Video gaming writer Brian D. Crecente covers the hottest and latest in pc, portable and console gaming for the Rocky and national blog Kotaku.com.

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danny.jpg Video Game Super Columbine Massacre RPG! continues to make waves and news. First the game, created by Colorado's Danny Ledonne as a way to deal with his reaction to the shootings, was selected as a finalist for the annual Slamdance Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition. This despite the controversy that continued to swirl around the game. Then the game was kicked form the competition by the organizers. And now the ban has sparked its own controversy.

TODAY'S POLL
The new E3: now minus the fun

Tuesday, August 1 at 12:07 AM

The video game industry is changing and the single event that showcases it each year finally is too.

On Monday the Entertainment Software Association announced that the Electronic Entertainment Expo was getting downsized and overhauled.

I had a chance to talk to ESA president Doug Lowenstein about the upcoming changes and he says they were spurred by changes in the industry itself.

Where the old E3 was a thing of multi-million dollar booths crowded in the mammoth Los Angeles Convention Center during May, the new E3 will be a smaller, more intimate by-invitation-only event likely held in a hotel lobby, Lowenstein said.

"We are talking about no show floor in the sense you go to the convention center and there are big booths and the other accoutrements associated with that," he said.

Lowenstein said the changes had been talked about for a while, but that industry leaders wanted to wait until after this year's show, when two new consoles were launched, before implementing them.

"If we are going to think about evolving the event this is a good time to do it," he said. "Trying to change what we were doing before this year might have been unsettling."

While the association hasn't decided where the new event will be held, they have decided where it won't be: The Los Angeles Convention Center.

"It will not be at the convention center," he said. "We are looking at possible hotels."

The event is also being pushed back to early July, to make it easier for developers to prepare for the show, which traditionally took place in May.

Another big change will be that the new E3 will no longer be open to anyone in the industry and the media that covers it, instead it will be by invite only.

Lowenstein said the previous system used to accredit people to attend E3 was flawed.

"There was a lot of leakage and thousands of people coming in there who were not central to the business of interactive entertainment," he said.

The new system will rely on invite lists created by developers, though Lowenstein said they haven't figured out exactly how it would work.

The ESA is still in the process of planning the new event, but he said that it will still likely feature demo areas, though most of the event will take place in private meetings with individual publishers and developers.

"It will be done in a setting much more business-like, much more intimate and much less harried," he said. "We found that what works best at E3 was what was behind closed doors. That means the show floor pretty much ends."

I asked Lowenstein what would happen to some of the less mainstream displays from the show and the smaller developers. He said that it's likely that not all the companies that packed E3 will make the cut for the new E3.

"There will be some people who are part of the E3 family right now who will not fit into the new model, that's inevitable," Lowenstein said, adding that the show is still trying to figure out a way to give smaller game publishers a chance to showcase their products at the new event.

"It might be something set up in a hotel ballroom," he said. "We might create opportunities for them to do small displays."

I pointed out that while the industry may support the idea, the concept is unsettling to those who cover the industry for a living. Lowenstein said that while he expects some reservations, he believes the new E3 be the best of both worlds.

"You are not going to have the sensory overload and on the other hand we are still going to have a set-up where you are going to have an opportunity to see everyone you want to see and eliminate the overload of E3," he said.

While the new show won't be a sensory overload, that doesn't mean it will be boring.

"We are not going out to create an event where people say, 'That was boring, I don’t want to come back'," he said. "We will still have some of the enjoyment and fun and glitz of E3."

Lowenstein said that while developers' rising costs for putting together booths for the show was a factor in the decision to overhaul E3, it wasn't the deciding factor.

"The question wasn’t are people willing to spend money, it's how do you get the highest return for your money," he said. "Many felt the investment was no longer as compelling as it was."

 
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Reader comments

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Posted by handbalda on August 30, 2006 11:19 AM

This was done to benefit the large corporate game publishers - no other reason.

Posted by snake on August 2, 2006 02:10 AM

Finally? ALl this does is empower the big guys even further and push smaller developers into a corner.

Notice he states they waited this year because of the new consoles? Funny how that serves them, yet they care very litle for development. Its a power play

Posted by Mike on August 1, 2006 10:49 PM

Finally, E3 had become a total circus. And it was actually causing game development to slow down. It's about time they did this.

Posted by John on August 1, 2006 08:19 AM

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