For those new to the gaming environment or even those who have been a part of it for years, E3 may be a term you have heard of but have never known its meaning. E3 is shorthand for The Electronic Entertainment Expo and has a great rich history in the industry of video games and great meaning for developers and gamers alike.
The Inaugural Event
In 1995, the first ever E3 press conference took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on May 11th through the 13th. To put it into perspective, in1995 Nintendo had the SNES and Sony’s PlayStation 1 was only a few months old as well as the Sega Saturn.
E3 was by no means the first press conference video game developers put together. Before E3 there were conventions that took place like the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for short. In the 90s, h90ser, the gaming industry was fast growing and industry professionals felt the need for a better means of a trade show. Retailers and distributors wanted an event that would help them make smarter buying decisions. Interacting with vendors all together in one focused setting would help them do that.
In response to their demands, Pat Ferrell came up with the idea of a video game conference based off of the foundations of the Macworld convention; a trade show with conferences dedicated to the products of Apple and Macintosh. After debating with the established gaming trade shows and convincing companies to make the switch, Ferrell’s new E3 conference made history. The first conference saw about 40,000 in attendance and became known as the biggest event in the video game industry.
*Sony PlayStations booth set up at the 1995 E3 press conference
Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment
The numbers continued to grow at E3; by the end of the show in 2006, the attendance had grown well into 70,000. With its audience multiplying in size, the showrunners had some unforeseen problems and complaints on their hands. The exhibitors began to complain about the money they had to spend on their booths, between 5 and 10 million dollars, and now with the enormous crowds, it became impossible for them to connect with their target audiences.
2007 saw the change to a couple things. First, they decided to move the conference back into July, instead of in May. Second, the venue moved to the Baker Hanger at the Santa Monica Airport, with a few conference rooms in hotels around the area. These changes were to ensure the cost and crowds would go down; the attendance now being limited to 10,000. Guessing that the airport hanger in July didn’t pan out too well, the following year the venue went back to the Los Angeles Convention Center; still with an event cap at 5,000 admitted. These caps on attendees created a lack of consumers at the event, which created another problem for vendors and marketers. There was now no one there for them to show off too and get valuable feedback or promotion.
*The Baker Hanger – not at E3 2007
Image Credit: The Independent Republic of Boardistan
2009 saw the return of the crowds, but a little more manageable than in the past. Still, with limitations on admittance and no admissions for the public, the audience reached 45,000. The showrunners also decided to move the event into June, where it remains held to this day.
In 2017 the public was once again allowed onto the show floor. The showrunners decided to add an additional 15,000 tickets for public admission, which sold out in seconds once put on sale. The crowds were so large that year that they had to open the doors 15 minutes ahead of schedule so that the crowds could get through the doors on time. In total there were 68,400 people in attendance.
*Huge crowds pilling into The Los Angeles Convention Center for E3 2017
Image Credit: VG 24/7
In current form, the expo consists of a variety of presentations from the major hardware and software developers and publishers like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. These presentations take place a couple days before the main doors open on the show floor, where attendees are greeted by their favorite companies and are allowed to sample products and mingle with developers.
*Nintendo’s booth set up at E3 2017.
Image Credit: Nintendo UK
The 24th annual E3 conference is happening on June 12th through the 14th to be held once again at the Los Angeles Convention Center. June 9th starts the publisher’s presentations.
- Saturday, June 9th – 11:00 am PT – EA
- Sunday, June 10th – 1:00 pm PT – Microsoft Xbox
- Sunday, June 10th – 6:30 pm PT – Bethesda
- Monday, June 11th – 10:00 am PT – Square Enix
- Monday, June 11th – 1:00 pm PT – Ubisoft
- Monday, June 11th – 3:00 pm PT – PC Gaming Show
- Monday, June 11th – 6:00 pm PT – Sony PlayStation
- Tuesday, June 12th – 9:00 am – PT – Nintendo Direct
6. Expectations – What Makes E3 so Special?
E3 is the most anticipated, premier event in all the gaming world. It’s the event where rumors of upcoming games are justified, long-awaited releases are fulfilled, and expectations are blown out of the water.
Over the years developers have outdone themselves. Presidents, chairmen, CEO’s, even game directors, and celebrities take the stage and put on their best theatrical performance, all to bring fans their most anticipated launches and releases. Fan’s, reporters, and online content creators wait in lines for hours to play minutes of the next top developers game.
For gamers, there is nothing quite like it. Whether sitting in the audience or streaming it live to their living rooms, fans are on the edge of their seat waiting for the next surprise from their favorite developer. And developers are full of surprises. Whether they bring out live bands or orchestra’s, floor to ceiling video walls, or live theatrics like snow falling from the ceiling, a spectacle is not lost on the audience.
*Sony PlayStations lights up the stage at their 2017 E3 press conference.
Image Credit: Rich Polk – Getty Images – Sony Interactive Intertainment America
E3 is a spectacle, but it’s also an incredible chance for those excited gamers out there to see what their favorite studios are working on and what to expect in the coming year. For those new to the gaming world and maybe experiencing their first E3, hold on to your hats, it can be quite the show.