E3 Organizers Launch Public Version of Gaming Expo

Part of the Entertainment Software Association's long-running videogame industry event, which takes place in Los Angeles each year, will be open to the public for the first time. The approach comes about as game developers have started to favor public-facing expos and competing events have started to crop up.

Over the years, the biggest complaint about the Entertainment Software Association’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has been that the tradeshow—which clearly appeals to the public, because it highlights the latest videogames—has remained an event for industry vendors and the media.

Earlier this year, those complaints reached a fever pitch after longtime exhibitor Electronic Arts announced it would hold its own event, accessible to the public, near E3’s Los Angeles home base. Now the Entertainment Software Association has announced it’s launching a public-accessible event of its own.

E3 Live, which will run concurrently with the industry-only event on June 14-16, will be held at the L.A. Live entertainment complex, right around the corner from the Los Angeles Convention Center where E3 is taking place. The event will include a number of prominent names in gaming, including PC-maker Alienware, developer Ubisoft, VR firm Oculus, and Amazon-owned gaming social network Twitch.

“E3 Live will give gamers the chance to test-drive exciting new games, interact with some of their favorite developers, and be among the first in the world to enjoy groundbreaking game experiences. For fans of video games, this will be an event like no other,” ESA President and CEO Michael D Gallagher said in a news release.

Clearly the interest was there: Although E3 Live was only announced on Monday, the event’s free tickets have already sold out.

The move by E3 comes at a time when game publishers are increasingly interested in taking part in public-facing events. The PAX expos, put on by the creators of the popular webcomic Penny Arcade, have become a mini empire. PAX currently holds five different events each year, within the U.S. and internationally.

Giant Bomb writer Austin Walker suggested that the success of PAX may have played a role in forcing ESA’s hand on the issue.

“If you put yourself in the shoes of a publisher, it’s easy to understand: Why focus so much on an event only journalists and industry insiders can attend? Why not speak directly to consumers and hold your own events?” Walker wrote. “Facing this pressure to remain relevant, it makes sense that the ESA would try something new. We’ll see how it all plays out in just a few weeks.”

Sights from the 2015 version of the E3 Expo. (Mr. Babyman/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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