Final Judgment on the New E3
Posted on Saturday, July 14 @ 20:17:52 PST by Duke_FerrisWith a sunny drive along the California coast in my convertible separating me from the madness, I take a moment to reflect… poolside.
The re-envisioned and reorganized E3 "Summit" had some major improvements and some gigantic tactical blunders. Instead of a single, gigantic convention center, companies were spread out through about five different hotels in Santa Monica, California. There was a smaller game presentation area in an aircraft hangar, with no booths, and strict presentation rules. Attendance was by invitation only, seeing many games was by appointment only, and booth babes were non-existent.
With a few fixes, it could be an actual improvement over the old product.
- Quiet meeting rooms. I can’t begin to describe how difficult it used to be to test a game, without being able to hear it, while screaming questions at the developer at the top of your lungs. The old convention center floor was loud. Rock-concert-stuffed-inside-a-casino-in-a-warzone loud. Sitting on a nice couch, in its own room, playing though the first level of Bioshock on a 56” TV with surround sound while chatting pleasantly with a developer turns out to be a genuinely pleasurable experience.
- Better food. The Los Angeles Convention Center catering, in a word, sucked. And they held a death-grip monopoly on it. Any company attempting to bring in outside food or drink found their meals confiscated and breach-of-contract fines levied. Attendees were forced instead to eat cardboard. Let the free market reign, and big surprise - products and services improve.
- Santa Monica is a much nicer area of Los Angeles. There’s just no comparison. Beautiful beaches, nice hotels, great restaurants. What’s not to love?
- Scheduling press conferences during the show itself. This was a huge mistake. Only Microsoft had their press conference before the show. So I lost a full day of potential meetings on Wednesday because of all-day back to back press conferences.
- Broadcasting the press conferences. Knowing they were going to be on TV led to a series of totally-useless-to-the-press press conferences. Activision’s was so smarmy, they did the whole thing in talk show format hosted by a possibly drunk Jamie Kennedy whose only successful joke was an uncanny Jerry Seinfeld impersonation. Many of the conferences didn’t even provide assets (the screens and trailers we need to do our jobs) at the end. I ended up skipping the rest of the press conferences so I could actually see some games.
- Not enough internet. Many of the area hotels were unprepared for such a bandwidth-intensive group as E3 attendees. My own hotel’s router was so clogged, my internet was essentially non-functional and it was very difficult to do my job.
- Having to take a shuttle between different appointments. This actually wasn’t too bad, but it meant having to factor some extra travel time, and it led to a lot of late appearances. I got genuinely excited when my next appointment would be in the same hotel.
The take-it-or-leave-it:- No booth babes. They were never actually useful anyway, but their presence was infamous. While impractical, they made E3 notorious, and well, everyone wants to be notorious.
- Barker Hanger. The aircraft hangar kiosks were totally useless to me. However, they were probably good for smaller pubs that couldn’t get private appointments. If you don’t rate a one-on-one with Nintendo, the hangar was the only way to go get a Wii Fitness workout.
So the final verdict is mixed. Next year, I’ll be skipping all press conferences unless E3 schedules them so that they’re before the show itself. I simply do not care that much if some liveblogger knows that Silent Hill 5 was announced an hour before I do.
I’ll also be planning my schedule around trying to switch hotel locations as infrequently as possible. That should be easy as next year I’ll have a whole extra day by ditching the now-useless press conferences.
And I really hope the hotels upgrade their bandwidth to accommodate the herd of nerds. That will be my number one question when booking.
Well, my beer is now empty, the sun is out and the water looks inviting. I’ll see you on Monday.
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