Next Gen have the first details of the new event to replace the E3, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.
Here are the shocking details:
Lowenstein said that next year’s event is tentatively titled the “E3 Media Festival,” and will have a target attendance of 5,000. To put that into perspective, E3 2006 drew 60,000 attendees--and that number was down from 70,000 in 2005.
In addition, the event will move from its traditional May dates to sometime in July next year, and take place in suites and conference rooms in two L.A. hotels. E3 has normally been held in the enormous Los Angeles Convention Center.
"Some companies were frustrated because E3 was such a huge, sweeping event it became increasingly difficult to get their messages out," Lowenstein told the WSJ.
5.000 visitors are less than a tenth of the previous attendance numbers. Holding the event in the meeting rooms of two hotels shows how irrelevant the event will become to most people who previously attended. It seems to me the new event is supposed to do away with media attendance in general and exclusively focus on the trade and retail people. At any rate, this piece of news really drives home the message that E3 has died.
EDIT Yahoo News carried the story already some hours ago and they have further details on the event:
_The usual date in May will be pushed to early July, closer to the holiday season. In recent years, an increasing number of exhibitors were compelled to show off their upcoming products but were unable to present demonstrations that could be played.
_Attendance will be by invitation only. Although the event had always been closed to the general public, almost anyone involved in the industry could previously attend. Attendance is expected in the "thousands" instead of "tens of thousands," Lowenstein said.
_The number of exhibit booths will also be decreased.
The trade show will aim to provide a setting for "high-quality" meetings with media, developers, retailers and other key industry audiences, Lowenstein said.
So, apparently, media will be able to attend. We will have to wait and see what is meant by the ´by invitation only´ admission rules. Certainly, the bulk of internet sites will be barred (with the possible exception of sites like IGN or Joystiq). It´s my guess that the event will also cater to US and Canadian professionals only. I mean, why would I travel to LA for a limited number of booths in two hotels anyway?
EDIT There is a lengthy interview with ESA president Lowenstein on this blog, courtesy of game editor Brian D. Crecente, who often writes for Kotaku. Here are some excerpts:
"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." (...)
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. (...) "We found that what works best at E3 was what was behind closed doors. That means the show floor pretty much ends." (...)
"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." (...)
"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. (...) "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."
It was to be expected that there will be no more showfloor. The most astounding piece of news from this article is the explanation of the ´invite only´ policy. If the attendance list really will only be drawn up by the publishers, this new event will become as spectacular as the EB / Gamestop managers conference - and there will be probably not much more media coverage either.
Source: Next Gen, Wall Street Journal
Thanks to: Game|Life, FEU, Kotaku