Annual gaming convention E3 will expand and rebrand next year, as it tries to lean even more into becoming a show for consumers. The ESA, who puts on E3, hopes to make the upcoming E3 2020 more of a festival, with the addition of celebrities, influencers, and more non-press attendees.
Each year in June, thousands of video game press gather at the Los Angeles Convention Center for E3. The expo started two decades ago as a site for press conferences where big publishers could give forecasts to the press who would then publish the information for fans.
As internet streaming has become the norm, these press events have become big-budget marketing blow-outs, which have made E3 more and more consumer focused. The ESA finally decided to open E3 to the public in 2017, and since then the show has grown exponentially towards bringing in consumer audiences.
According to a report by GameDaily.biz, a pitch deck intended for internal use has revealed a brand new direction for E3 2020 that will double-down on the consumer-focused nature of the event. The new plan includes working with agencies to hire more celebrities and influencers in order to boost the event's consumer appeal. The pitch deck points to data gathered by publishers who feel consumer support make the event stronger, as pointed out earlier this year when Nintendo called attending E3 a "No-brainer."
The added inclusion of celebrity and influencer events and attractions at E3 will dramatically change the show floor. The proposed new show will have eight new "experience" spaces scattered around, with the goal being to lure consumers into celebrity-focused "activations." The pitch deck gives the example of inviting players on the LA Lakers to play a basketball video game for folks to watch.
The intention is also to present exclusive activations by appointment to "create buzz and FOMO." All of this seems partially connected to wooing back developers like Sony, who recently skipped E3 altogether. More consumers means more opportunity for marketing.
And there will be more consumers. E3 will open an additional 10,000 non-press badges for the show. This means a potential 25,000 consumers could flood the show floor when E3's doors open next June. The ESA proposed the addition of a press-only day on the first day of the show. It hopes to curtail the competition between attendees and press for E3 game demos, which have become open to the public.
The ESA also wants to add a queuing app that will let folks reserve a spot for a game demo and come back to it later, skipping the line. The app will include "queuetainment" for those who do have to wait in line. These changes seem designed as an attempt to get out ahead of the show's potential overcrowding with the addition of extra bodies.
It makes sense for E3 to want to expand this way. The event almost died altogether in the early 2000's. Embracing the consumerism aspect of the show has given it new life, and it makes E3's big surprises hit harder. On the other hand, as the event grows for consumers, it becomes more focused on presenting a good "show" rather than existing as a place for games. Celebrity events take focus away from the hard-working developers, some of whom crunch hard to present their show-stopping demos.
At this point, E3's growth into a consumer-based show seems inevitable. Time will tell if the move proves successful or if E3 will become too unfocused for its own good.