SMALLER, FO­CUSED

HWM (Malaysia) - - GAX -

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

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