So for the first time in history The Entertainment Software Association announced that E3 will be open to the public this year, with 15,000 tickets up for grabs at noon this coming Monday, February 13.
Getting into E3 previously was easier said than done, and you had to be either an accredited member of the press or media , or a renowned figure in the industry to actually be able to attend these things , but now since it will be open to the masses albeit for a price , it still means that a large number of fans casual and hardcore , can experience the enigma that is E3.
The tickets are priced at $250 (or $150 if you buy early). These tickets provide access to the show floor, panel discussions, and other still to be announced events from Tuesday to Thursday. The ESA will team up with games media veteran Geoff Keighley to give attendees access to special benefits related to Keighley’s own E3 programming, like developer interviews etc. More details about this as well of the rest of E3 plans are expected to be announced in the following weeks.
Even Microsoft and Ubisoft have gotten behind the idea , with the latter terming it as a “test” to determine a hybrid model, where gamers can give an early feedback on the games on display.
Opening E3 to the public has been something people have been demanding for quite a while, indeed the ESA dabbled in fan inclusion in 2016 with its E3 Live event, which was free and open to the public. Attendees had access to game demos, music, meet-and-greets and more at the off-site experience. Since this even had “incredible attendee enthusiasm” according to Rich Taylor the ESA’s senior VP of communications, the only logical thing to do next was to allow fans to actually walk the halls of E3.
According to Taylor:
“The feedback we heard was clear–they wanted to play the games inside the convention center. In addition, exhibitors inside the convention center wanted to have access to the fans. So this year we’re bringing the two together.”
“It’s a changing industry, and E3 has always evolved to meet industry needs and anticipate where we’re heading together–as an event, as an industry, and as fans. The decision to open our doors to 15,000 fans was a strategic decision. It is thanks to our members and their vision and leadership that made this possible. We have a model that allows the business of the industry to continue for our business and media attendees and provides an opportunity for video games’ biggest fans to experience the latest in innovative, immersive entertainment.”
The question of E3’s relevance pops up annually as more developers and publishers, such as EA, Activison and Nintendo, have been skipping E3 altogether in recent years so this might be the ESA’s attempt to try and keep the expo the massively profitable neon clusterfuck it has always been.
“I think there are those who always enjoy questioning those at the top of the leaderboard,” said Taylor. “E3 has a reputation around the world as the place where video game hardware and software launches happen. Last year, E3 generated more than 65 billion media impressions around the globe. That doesn’t happen accidentally, and it’s a testament to E3’s strength, its connection to the fans, and the event’s position in the industry.”
Regardless opening E3 to the public is definitely a great step. With lots of people tuning in to live video stream, and fans at home enjoying the same if not better views than the media folks in the audience, it begs the question of what the actual target audience is. The media is no longer the true target audience for these press events but it is in fact the game-playing public on their laptops and tablets and it’s great to see that game companies are shifting towards skipping the media middleman and pitching their wares directly to the public. In some cases, the biggest tech and game companies are choosing to skip traditional trade shows to host their own one-off showcase events.
It is well know that the public was already present at the event, as halls have always been crowded with snuck-in friends and fans, so it is a logical decision to embrace the real target audience for today’s E3: the gamers. This will perhaps allow a new generation to get interested and gaming and can be benficial for the industry as a whole.