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How E3 Is Making Room for the Public This Year

By / Feb 10, 2017

The Entertainment Software Association has long put on a tradeshow so cool that the public has wanted in on the gaming action. This year, it’ll let them into E3—while being mindful of the new dynamic it creates.

The high point of the videogame industry’s year isn’t going to be hidden from the public’s eyes for much longer.

This week, the Entertainment Software Association announced it was making room for the public to take part in its annual E3 meeting, expanding the tradeshow to allow for as many as 15,000 interested gamers—at a price of $150 for early-bird ticket buyers and $250 for those who wait. Tickets go on sale Monday afternoon.

Even with the pricey tickets, the pitch might prove hard for many gamers to resist. Previously, you needed some sort of tie to the industry—whether as a journalist or through a developer or vendor—to take part.

In comments to GameSpot, ESA Senior Vice President of Communications Rich Taylor described the decision as one of mutual interest. Prior to this year, E3 had only modestly dipped its toes into public-facing events, putting on a side event last spring after one of its major exhibitors, Electronic Arts, backed out and hosted a separate event of its own.

“The feedback we heard was clear—they wanted to play the games inside the convention center. In addition, exhibitors inside the convention center wanted to have access to the fans. So this year we’re bringing the two together,“ Taylor told the website.

The shift has the potential to create some logistical problems, notes CNET reporter Sean Hollister. Industry attendees, for example, might need to be kept to a minimum to ensure the event doesn’t go over its traditional cap of 50,000 attendees, and it could create issues in terms of exhibit space at the Los Angeles Convention Center—which is an issue for E3 due to the elaborate displays that game-makers produce for the event.

But in his comments to GameSpot, Taylor says ESA has figured out a way to make room for both industry figures and a deeply interested public. (Some of the offerings will be targeted specifically toward the public—the association is working with games journalist Geoff Keighley on those—while traditional perks for the press, such as media rooms, won’t go away.)

“The decision to open our doors to 15,000 fans was a strategic decision. It is thanks to our members and their vision and leadership that made this possible,” Taylor stated. “We have a model that allows the business of the industry to continue for our business and media attendees and provides an opportunity for video games’ biggest fans to experience the latest in innovative, immersive entertainment.”

Those looking for a ticket can learn more at the E3 Expo website.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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