Smaller E3 set for Barker Hangar


The Electronic Entertainment Expo will settle in at Santa Monica's Barker Hangar from July 11-13 for its first event since organizers decided to scale back the size and scope of the annual video gaming event.

Meanwhile, industry sources say the Consumer Electronics Assn., which mounts the massive technology trade show in January in Las Vegas, has been eyeing its own video game conference in Los Angeles in midsummer. E3 itself was once held under the umbrella of the January Consumer Electronics Show before breaking out on its own a dozen years ago.

In recent years, a growing number of game companies, including Microsoft and Sony, have used CES to promote such gaming platforms as PSP and Xbox 360.

Like the August Leipzig Game Convention and September Tokyo Game Show, the proposed event would be open to the public for a period of time but would also target the same press, retailers and game companies that E3 is courting. An announcement on the CEA's video game event could come as early as this week.

The new invitation-only E3 Media and Business Summit will take place in 16,000 square feet of space in the Barker Hangar as well as nearby hotel suites.

Exhibitors will be limited to booths of 100 square feet to 400 square feet. The new show will target media, retailers, developer partners and other audiences, according to the Entertainment Software Assn., which has mounted E3 for the past organizers of E3 for the past 12 years, 10 of them at the Los Angeles Convention Center. E3 had drawn more than 60,000 attendees to a sprawling trade show housed at the Los Angeles Convention Center in recent years, but the ESA said in July that it was shifting gears to a "dramatically smaller" event at the request of its member companies (HR 8/1). The ESA represents prominent game publishers across multiple platforms.

The new show will be open to both ESA member companies and nonmember companies.

In addition to scaling back the monstrous booths that filled the convention center and bombarded attendees with sensory overload, the massive conference schedule has been reduced.

"When we asked key audiences what they wanted in the new event, we heard that they wanted opportunities for high-level meetings in a businesslike setting, to play games, network and socialize, to see major company offerings while also preserving the sense of discovery that is so much a part of E3," ESA president Douglas Lowenstein said.

"The new E3 event will be more personal, efficient and focused, and it will provide the top stakeholders who make games, sell games, and cover games streamlined access to the people and products they most need to see," he added.