July 31st, 2006

E3 R.I.P. ??

From GP's new obituary section:

Electronic Entertainment Expo, suddenly, July 31st; survived by father, Doug Lowenstein; beloved brother of Mario, Sonic and Master Chief; private burial; in lieu of flowers, send suggestions for best ways game journalists can survive May, 2007...

Hard to believe, but Next Generation, is reporting that E3 is dead:

"...all major exhibitors have effectively pulled their support from the show, prompting the majority of game publishers to also cancel plans for high-cost booths..."

"The decision by big manufacturers and publishers to walk away has left ESA in damage-control mode... E3, in its present form, is dead... The ESA will make an announcement later today that will attempt to add some gloss to this catastrophe... Whatever is announced today will be no more than a fig-leaf. The days of an industry event attended by all the major publishers, spending big money, are gone.
"

GameSpot is reporting in a similar vein, although with somewhat less of a doomsday flavor than Next Generation's coverage:

"GameSpot... learned that the show would radically shrink in size and... will take place at a location that would support exhibitors in meeting room space only, with... attendees numbering in the hundreds rather than thousands."

It's a shock to the system to imagine the month of May without an E3. In the next few days we'll be trying to assess the implications for the ESA as an entity.

Industry Source Dishes on Why E3 Had to Die

Calling E3's sudden demise, "sad, really," a knowledgeable game industry source has spoken to GamePolitics about the cancellation of the show.

"The problem was systemic," said the source. "E3 grew from a retail buyer's show to an industry expo pretty rapidly... The situation started collapsing quickly. The third parties (publishers) started questioning the ever-expanding (cost)... I think EA has questioned the value proposition. They felt... with E3 it increasingly became about P.R."

So, how will the death of E3 affect the ESA? Doesn't the industry trade group derive significant operating revenue from E3?

"Huge. The most worrying aspect is legislative. (The legal) budget is already meager, compared with what they want and need."
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ESA Statement on E3

The following press release was issued this afternoon by the ESA. Because this is such a controversial issue, we're reprinting it verbatim:

Washington, DC (July 31, 2006) - To better address the needs of today's global computer and video game industry, the 2007 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3Expo) is evolving into a more intimate event focused on targeted, personalized meetings and activities, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced today.

"The world of interactive entertainment has changed since E3Expo was created 12 years ago. At that time we were focused on establishing the industry and securing orders for the holiday season," said Douglas Lowenstein, President of the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers and the owner of E3Expo. "Over the years, it has become clear that we need a more intimate program, including higher quality, more personal dialogue with the worldwide media, developers, retailers and other key industry audiences."
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Minnesota Game Law Tossed By Judge

It seems that gamers weren't the only ones troubled by Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch's rather bizarre take on violent video games, which he referred to as "worthless, disgusting speech" and "speech of low societal value."

Federal District Court Judge James Rosenbaum today issued a permanent injunction against Minnesota's "fine the buyer" law. The unusual statute turned traditional video game legislation on end by levying $25 fines against underage buyers of M- and AO-rated games.

As reported by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune, Judge Rosenbaum ruled that Minnesota failed to prove any harm to kids caused by violent games. The Judge also ruled that the law violated the First Amendment, writing:

"The First Amendment . . . was certainly established to keep the government from becoming the arbiter of what constitutes 'worthless' or 'disgusting' speech. The Court declines the State's invitation to enter into an evaluation of this kind."
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