No one is more surprised than I am that the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo is looking like it will be a highly popular media event in its 2010 incarnation.
After all, it was only a couple of years ago that everyone--including myself--had essentially written off the long-running show. At the same time, my video game industry contacts are telling me there's still a sense of nervousness among those who actually have to sign the checks to pay for the event.
What are the reasons for the negative vibes over the past few years? Costs are increasing and the bombast in the first half of the last decade led game publishers--which would spend millions building essentially small walled cities inside the Los Angeles Convention Center--to conclude they simply weren't getting their money's worth from the show. Especially, because unlike traditional trade shows, the focus of E3 over the years shifted away from deal making between publishers and buyers, and it became strictly a media event that was designed to generate headlines and feed a voracious public appetite for video game news.
The result of this was a pullback, first to a smaller invite-only show in Santa Monica, Calif., (which, looking back, was actually a fairly pleasant overall experience), then to a ghost town of a deserted convention center with tiny attendance and underwhelming reviews. After that, 2009 marked something of an about-face, about half the size of the classic E3 show, and this year promises to be even bigger.… Read more