The E3 show always attracted big crowds
The video game world is gearing up for the E3 Expo – one of the biggest events in the gaming calendar.
Although smaller than in previous years the three-day event will be a showcase of the latest and greatest in the gaming world.
The focus in 2007 has shifted from hardware to games and attendees will expect to see previews and launches of some keenly-awaited titles.
But, despite the revamp, some wonder if E3 is being eclipsed by other events.
In 2006 the E3 show attracted more than 60,000 visitors to the LA conference centre where more than 400 companies showed their wares.
In 2007 the event, which runs from 11-13 July, has moved to Santa Monica. Exhibitors are spread around a series of venues and the show has become invitation-only. It is now aimed at the industry’s professionals rather than the game-playing public.
But, said Rob Fahey, editor of gamesindustry.biz, this downsizing may not have had the desired effect.
“The new E3 is a very provincial event,” he said. “Formerly, E3 was the world’s games trade show – now it’s very distinctly North America’s games trade show.
TOP TITLES AT E3 2007
Age of Conan
Call of Duty 4
Clive Barker’s Jericho
Devil May Cry 4
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Grand Theft Auto IV
Guitar Hero III
Half Life 2: Episode 2
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
“We’ve been seeing a lot of smaller companies getting squeezed out of the new event,” said Mr Fahey, “and the bigger publishers (including Sony and Nintendo) are focusing their resources elsewhere, on their own private events or on other shows around the world.”
Phil Elliot, UK Editor of GameSpot, agreed that the revamp has changed E3 significantly.
“The idea was sound but the execution is a little unclear,” he said, “and the impact on the industry outside of North America is proving larger than most anticipated.”
Many European game makers would avoid E3, said Mr Elliot, and instead were saving themselves for the Games Convention that takes place in Leipzig in late August.
“It’s a public show which will surely take on the mantle of biggest show on the calendar,” he said.
Mr Fahey said the fact that E3 had shrunk was a good thing. “It will focus more attention on the European show in Leipzig, and the Asian shows in Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul, and should hopefully help to emphasise the importance of non-US markets.
Screenshot from Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft
Assassin’s Creed lets people play as a medieval killer
A separate event for the public, called the Entertainment for All Expo, will take place from 18-21 October in LA.
In 2006 the big announcements at the show were about hardware – in particular Sony’s PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii as these next generation consoles had yet to launch.
However, in 2007 with all three next generation consoles now on shop shelves the focus has switched to games.
In particular, this year industry watchers are looking for titles that harness the raw computer power of the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles.
One of the most eagerly anticipated games is Assassin’s Creed from Ubisoft for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The game, set in the time of the Crusades, is gaining attention for its huge environments, life-like crowds that react to the player’s actions and the acrobatic way the main character gets around towns and villages.
Another PS3/Xbox 360 title that is widely anticipated is Grand Theft Auto IV – the latest instalment in the best-selling franchise that lets players take on the role of a modern-day criminal.
This instalment is based in a revamped Liberty City and follows the fortunes of career criminal Niko Bellic.
Killzone, Guitar Hero III and Rockband are also expected to win attention at the show.