E3 2006, the Wii has come out of nowhere to complete dominate the show. Sitting directly next to Sony's booth showing off the more powerful PlayStation 3, Nintendo saw show-goers line up all day to spend just a few minutes will the new platform. Sony could barely get anyone to come look at their overpriced console.
As you can imagine, Sony, after spending millions and millions of marketing dollars at E3, a trade show hosted by the ESA, was not happy. Several others Publishers like Activision, EA, and even Microsoft were also sick and tired of the show growing into a circus event. They felt that E3 had outlived its usefulness and it was time to leave the show.
E3 2007 saw the near death of the event as an invite only tradeshow in a small airplane hangar away from Los Angeles and in Santa Monica. The result was a disaster with the main appointments taking place at hotels all over the area and both journalists and PR complaining. The timing of this July event made no sense for anyone. All big announcements and titles were already known before the show began. Why would anyone attend of showcase here?
E3 2008 saw the show return to the LA Convention Center with new rules to keep the booths small. Publishers realized that they didn't like having equal footing with smaller Publishers and Indie Developers and pushed for a return to the E3 of the past. The date of the show also dropped back a bit but it still was entirely too small and the show generated barely any buzz. Talk all over the floor from Journalists and PR was E3 was on lifesupport. They even shared the LA Convention center with a Knitting Show in the other hall!
E3 2009, 2010, and 2011 saw the show grow back into its old self with all major Publishers and Developers back spending insane marketing dollars to have a bigger, shinier, louder, and flashier booths. They also moved the date of the show back to the June timeframe. Fortunately the old knitting ladies from E3 2008 were gone as well!
Tradeshows like CES are becoming a thing of the past as the keynotes by Microsoft have ended. It appears that E3 is becoming the major entertainment announcement hub. This will become more evident this week as Microsoft will be using the event to bring Xbox to all of their platforms.
With the only other tradeshows, like PAX and QuakeCon, being events centered around the fans and not a venue for announcements, E3 has transformed itself back into an event that is necessary for the industry, to create buzz, for the "Big 3," to have a time to make major announcements, and for small companies to have their products seen by a large majority of the press.
Could E3 grow into more than just a video games show? Will we see any type of electronic or other entertainment news in the future? With rumored eBook readers, at Sony, and Microsoft showing off Xbox on other platforms, this year might be the test bed for this.
We are very excited for this years show and there hasn't been this much buzz for an E3 since E3 2006. As we move forward, and towards a new console cycle, E3 should only gain more and more momentum as the dominant trade show of each and every year.