My first E3 was 2001. The biggest news of the show was the reveal of Super Smash Bros. Melee for the yet-to-be-released GameCube. Much of the show floor buzz was about Take-Two Interactive’s “riot simulator” State of Emergency, which had crowds of people waiting to play even as the Grand Theft Auto III booth on the opposite side of that display went frequently ignored.
This year’s show is my 11th in attendance. The industry has changed. I’ve changed. And naturally, E3 has changed. It’s smaller, for one thing. Kentia Hall is no longer a glorified flea market filled with dozens of different DVD case suppliers, lifelike gun peripheral importers, and the occasional industryaltering innovator. Instead, it is a parking garage.
These days, there is no need for Kentia Hall because there simply aren’t that many exhibitors at E3. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft still have massive booths, but the rest of the field has been thinned. Gone are the Kemcos, the Midways, the THQs, and this year, even the Segas and Bandai Namco. The South Hall and West Hall aren’t quite as full as they were in years past. Even the advertising has become less pervasive. The Staples Center sports banners for women’s pro basketball, but nothing for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The three towers of the Hotel Figueroa now bear an ad for a movie instead of the next big AAA blockbuster.
Not all the changes are bad, of course. In my first couple of years at the show, it is common for exhibitors to employ booth girls in ‘barely there’ scantily-clad outfits and play ear-piercing rock and roll music in a bid to drown out nearby exhibitors. It was a juvenile play for attention, and one that was easily ignored in a sea of similarly tacky and tasteless marketing strategies. These days, women