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E3: What's the verdict?

A range of executives give their view on the new style show.

One of the most talked about topics at E3 last week was the show itself.

Gone were the queues and the fan boys, but did that mean the excitement had disappeared too? Santa Monica might offer a more pleasant environment than the LA Convention Center, but was it worth the trek between hotels and the hangar? And where did all the retailers go?

GamesIndustry.biz talked to a range of executives about their views on the new E3 - and what the future of the show might hold.


Does a new E3 mean companies need to adopt a new approach?

"E3 has changed, the way the entire show is being carried out has changed, so we also wanted to change the way we did our presentations.... We felt it was really time to move away from too many PowerPoint slides with a lot of factoids and graphs.

"I think people are here at E3 obviously to get a lot of information, but at the same time really enjoy seeing some of the games that are coming for our platforms." - Kaz Hirai, president, Sony Computer Entertainment

"E3 has totally changed. Cost wise it's much smaller, and also the time for preparation is much less. We're not designing a new booth or holding a press conference this year.

"We'll miss some things, but we're happy with not having to spend as much time and money as we did on previous E3s." - John Yamamoto, president and CEO, Square Enix Europe and US

Have the platform holder conferences changed?

"[We took] the rather unusual step of just focusing purely on this year, rather than trying to do some visionary stuff about 2008 and 2009... We made the decision several months ago that we've probably got 40 games we need to show in some way or another, but for 2007 we don't want to short-change either our first-party stuff, or more importantly our third-party partners.

"So we said we were just going to focus on right here, right now... And put our cards on the table." - Peter Moore, speaking prior to his resignation as corporate vice president of Microsoft's interactive entertainment division

"I've heard reports that [Sony's conference] was a bit humbler, with more humility than last year, which I think was needed, that it was quite slick, that it was focusing on games... So it seems to have been fairly well received. But it's not for me to judge, is it?" - David Reeves, president, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

"Each [conference] had their positive moments. Microsoft has a very strong line-up for the fall, nothing that we didn't already know, but when you see it in aggregate it does make a statement.

"Nintendo is obviously exceptionally hot at this point, they're clearly going to continue with the mass market approach and new peripherals. Sony is obviously committed to Home and what they're doing there...

"They can't all be right, so there are going to be some questions to how all that works out in the marketplace." - Mark Beaumont, executive vice president, Capcom Europe

Does July make more sense than May?

"The issue in the May E3 time period is that you had to build a special E3 game demo and get it ready for the show, and when the show was over, you had to rip all that code out and start from scratch.

"This later timing aligns better with the fall shipment calendar. We haven't had to make special builds or put in anything that had to later be ripped out. It's ideal from a game development perspective." - Bob Aniello, senior vice president of marketing, THQ

Is the Barker Hangar worth a visit?

"The only feedback I've gotten so far, and I haven't been down here long enough to get a lot, is that the Barker Hangar isn't working." - Bill Gardner, CEO, Eidos, speaking on the second day of the show

"I didn't personally get over there. I didn't run into too many people that did. I'm not sure we need the Barker Hangar." - David Zucker, CEO, Midway

Are hotels an improvement over the LA Convention Center?

"The logistics of going between all the hotels is the one thing I hear has been really challenging. I'm sure there are improvements to be made in future years." - Will Kassay, senior vice president of brand management, Activision

"We had a meeting with the head of the ESA yesterday, so Todd [Thorson] and I decided to take the shuttle back to the Fairmont instead of walking. It took 40 minutes. Needless to say, we were late." - Andrew Lelchuk, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Namco Bandai

"I almost didn't get to our press conference." - David Zucker, Midway

"Transportation is a problem. Making meetings is a problem. So, I would say from an overall standpoint, if the ESA decides to continue in this form, I think they are going to have to make some big adjustments." - Bill Gardner, Eidos

Where are all the retailers?

"I'm disappointed by the amount of retail presence here. There are other events that are taking place, like for example Destination PlayStation, Microsoft has a similar event - retailers are going to those events rather than coming to E3, because they just don't need to be here any more." - John Smedley, president, Sony Online Entertainment

"It would have been great if there were more retailers here. Obviously, there weren't. So, from a sales function standpoint, it doesn't really work." Andrew Lelchuk, Namco Bandai

"Certainly retail wasn't there like they have been in the past, but that's fine. I think most of the publishers are already engaging with retail on a regular basis now. To some extent, this show, at least from a retail standpoint, has probably outlived its usefulness." - David Zucker, Midway

Who didn't get an invite?

"We weren't invited to E3. We kept waiting by the mailbox and nothing arrived, so we decided we had to do our own stuff.

"But we're used to it, we founded Gathering of Developers a long time ago, and at each of the E3 show we had our own counter-culture activities out in the parking lot - bands, barbecues, beer and all that kind of stuff. It's a lot of fun; a better bang for your buck." - Harry Miller, el presidente, Gamecock

So what about next year?

"E3 used to be the world's biggest show and everyone used it to make big announcements. It's losing that function now. The Tokyo Game Show is held in September and Japanese publishers will focus on that more than E3, I believe." - John Yamamoto, Square Enix

"The ESA is going to meet over the coming months and make some decisions. From what I've heard, there are some pretty good arguments pro and con, so we'll have to see what comes out of the meetings." - David Zucker, Midway

"We'll have a board meeting next month to talk about the feedback, what worked and didn't work. Whether this venue as it is set up here continues, or whether it changes and becomes something different, that needs to be decided.

"But I don't think that this venue works. Either you go into the Las Vegas convention centre kind of thing, and you try to keep a lid on it where you can get everybody into the same building - or you seriously have to think about quitting." Bill Gardner, Eidos

Interviews by Mark Androvich and Ellie Gibson.

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Ellie Gibson

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Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.

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