the post e3 world

I will have to see as a geek having had jobs that have allowed me to go to shows like e3 and ces has been awesome. For gaming, e3 was nirvana though its success ultimately led to its implosion. Thankfully ces isn’t going anywhere soon and now with convergence finally here after being promised for the last 15 years (John Malone’s 500 channel speech was over 13 years at the western cable show) it’s the holy grail for all cool devices that aren’t a phone (unfortunately due to our balkanized approach to wireless we lag hopelessly behind europe so all the cool mobile shows are over there).

e3′s roots were in Atlanta and when the show went hollywood – literally and figuratively it was the beginning of the end. Shows actually do serve a business purpose. Trust me, shows are never close to the boondoggle we as participants might wish. They provide an easy way to do a press push, announce new products and initiatives, conduct sales and bus. dev meetings, and offer a forum for the tech folks to catch up on the latest and greatest. But what happened to e3 is that it imploded due to its own success. It became so popular that parking was impossible, traffic jams caused 1-2 hour back ups, and there were no places nearby to conduct meetings. So it was easy to see why the major players all pulled the plug.

But the need for a central annual meeting place still exists in the wake of e3′s absense. Looking at the landscape for gaming that leaves GDC and maybe CES. The problem with CES is that for marketing and PR puposes its too big of a show and historically tied to CE releases (and these days of ever cooler gadgets – I admit I have a problem when it comes to gadgets) for any other sector to get much play in the media. Sure XBOX and PS3 will get covered but that’s because they by their nature are CE devices. But the rest of the gaming space is left out in the cold.

So that leaves GDC as the next logical choice. Unfortunately, GDC has its flaws too – is it a console gaming show? pc gaming? or casual gaming? Given its root as a developer show, does it have enough business focus to attract the right business people and deals? Is it the right venue to get press if you are not a tier 1 console developer or publisher? As I head to GDC tomorrow, it will be interesting to get a perspective on GDC and it’s new status – can it be the replacement for e3? Will it become e3 lite instead (lots of glitter and less and less business).

Now as a casual gaming guy by experience, GDC is far from perfect for the casual games space. We need a show where we can look forward to cutting deals, promoting new products and announcements and getting a chance to generate some press on as standalone basis as possible. Then the larger public and media will see just how large and legitimate the casual gaming space is. Perhaps its time for the Casual Game Conferences to emerge as the proper venue for showcasing the casual game industry. For the US, the Seattle show has potential given the industry’s concentration in Seattle as well as Seattle in July being as close to as good as it gets (sunny, dry, water and mountains). Now what needs to happen next is that the casual gaming companies work to make the event truly worth covering – then – the casual gaming space will have a solid home and perhaps even an annual boondoggle.

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