In an interview with Games Industry BIZ, Senior VP at the ESA Rich Taylor is stating that this year’s E3 will have 45,000 attendees, an increase from last year’s 40,000.
International retail attendance is up over past years, with close to 200 buyers coming from 74 countries – and that number’s probably going to grow still. International media attendance is up as well, with about 1000 foreign journalists coming to the Expo, which is about a 30 per cent increase, and says a lot about the show and the industry itself.
Which is entirely the point. In 2007 and 2008, when the major publishers complained that it cost too much for them to spend on huge displays, the show was scaled back to a more private media conference, with smaller venues. Unfortunately, that had an effect in two ways:
- Smaller developers who would often feature games no one had heard about suffered. In 2007 and 2008, there were no surprises like S.T.A.L.K.E.R., a surprise hit at E3 a few years ago, or Roogoo, which attracted attention at NY Comic Con 2009. In addition, the titles in 2007 and 2008 were large titles that didn’t require much exhibition to receive publicity.
- The smaller scope resulted in less interest, as fewer mainstream press attended, while smaller blogs which didn’t have the press credentials to warrant attendance were apathetic, effectively mowing the grassroots support in the industry. It’s quite possible the money saved on smaller venues and displays didn’t translate to proportionate advertising.
This year, the E3 parties and ballyhoo will ensure discussion from both the mainstream press and the gaming enthusiast, and perhaps some smaller developers will get their due. I remember an indie dev who hawked his iPhone game app by being a human billboard basically asking journalists to ask him about his game.