Entertainment for All? Not Quite

Sony, Microsoft Among No-shows as New Gaming Expo Draws 18,000

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- The Entertainment for All video-game expo in Los Angeles this past weekend turned out to be a bit of a misnomer. It certainly was open to all -- unlike its predecessor, the industry-insider, invite-only E3 show -- but it drew far fewer than expected.
The debut of Entertainment for All had a less-than-stellar turnout compared to its predecessor, E3.
The debut of Entertainment for All had a less-than-stellar turnout compared to its predecessor, E3.

About 18,000 attended the event at the Los Angeles Convention Center, according to organizer IDG World Expo. But that's less than a third of the 60,000 people who attended the final E3 expo at the same venue in May 2006.

Some of the reasons cited for the less-than-stellar first year: the difficulties of a debut, lack of a strong identity, little insider buzz and lax game-company attendance.

'No hype'
"I did not feel like I missed anything," said Yankee Group analyst Michael Goodman, who said he didn't attend because of the lack of business contacts and fresh content this late in the year. "For regular consumers, it could do OK. But how many people are you going to draw from around the world? Especially not in the first year -- and especially when there was no hype surrounding it."

And while some big-name game companies attended, including Nintendo, Konami, Electronic Arts and Activision, there were noticeable absences such as Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft and Capcom. "While the idea of getting to meet game makers is cool, the lack of big companies like Sony and Microsoft really hurt this show. ... I'm really glad I decided not to go to this one," said longtime gaming journalist John Gaudiosi on his WRAL.com gaming blog. "The game industry is still in flux as E for All did nothing to help the E3 mess."

E for All is owned by IDG World Expo and endorsed by the Entertainment Software Association, which ran the E3 tradeshow and its successor, the E3 Media and Business Summit, which counted about 4,000 attendees at its purposefully intimate, invite-only first convention in July.

'Thrilled with the attendance'
A show representative did not return calls for comment, but IDG World Expo CEO Mary Dolaher said in a news release: "We are thrilled with the attendance, and we are pleased that we delivered the event we aimed for, which was a celebration that truly was for the entire game community. With over 18,000 attendees on the show floor, from gamers and exhibitors to developers, retailers and families, the mood was always fun and energetic. The response to the event was overwhelmingly positive."

Of course, not only the show promoters were pleased with the new E for All format.

"It's a great way to get in touch with consumers," said IDC analyst and attendee Billy Pidgeon. "It seemed to work. The gamers were very excited. Nintendo in particular enjoyed quite a large crowd." He said attending companies such as Nintendo and EA understand that they need direct-to-consumer marketing to succeed in the more competitive social- and mass-gaming market today.

"Events like this are important," Mr. Pidgeon said. "It's a great opportunity in this [atmosphere] that requires different types of marketing."
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