But dat E3 story today...
Actually, the history of the convention was really cool. I didn't know a lot about the beginnings of E3 in the 90's.
What was missing for me was discussion of E3 post-2006. See, as it hit its stride, E3 used to be more like San Diego Comic-Con, where it was a combined public convention and business expo. Annually, you'd see between 60,000-70,000 people in attendance. I would call it the high-point of E3's history. You saw the console wars between Sony and Microsoft leading into the release of the XBox 360 and the PS3. Game developers put more effort into making sure that their titles were in beta so that fans could play them at the convention.
I'd watch on tv, since channels like Tech TV would broadcast from inside the conferences, and you'd get to see these massive crowds. The hype was awesome.
Then, between 2006 and 2007, E3 decided to make some changes. Companies had been complaining that the business expo side wasn't getting enough push, and that they were stuck pouring a ton of money into the convention aspects of the conference. They wanted it scaled back. So, E3 listened... and for the next two years, there would be zero public access and the crowds were capped at 10,000 people or less. Pretty much everyone hated it. Outlets that reported it on it in the past suddenly found themselves uninvited. Those that did go commented on the immense loss in public interest and word of mouth. Turns out, if you don't let the public in the door, they don't care as much about the reports that come out after the fact.
Even from the general public's perception, it looked like E3 was struggling to stay alive. Ironically, it got to a point where the companies presenting at E3 starting complaining about the lack of public attention. Big gaming companies aren't great at knowing how to engage the public? Shocking. Truly shocking.
Basically, since then, E3 has slowly been opened to the public again. At first, they made it easier for people just tangentially connected to the gaming industry to get it. You stock the shelves for GameStop? Good News! Then, in 2015, they started giving out 5,000 tickets were given out to the vendors to disperse however they saw fit.
They still haven't quite figured out how to not screw it up though... Last year, they thought that they could open it up to the general public again-- by putting together a separate event in a different building nearby. Highly mixed reviews of the event were to follow.
This year, it's been said that they've up'd the number of public entrance tickets from 5,000 to 15,000, so, we'll have to see how that goes.
In the mean time, a number of major companies, including Nintendo, EA, Sony, and Microsoft, have seemingly lost patience with the slow learning curve over at E3, and have opted to host their own events leading up to and during the convention, while significantly reducing their presence at E3 itself.
If you want to see Mica's intro to E3 on The Know, see here.