The annual ECTS trade show is definitely set to go ahead this September and is actually in a stronger position than it was at the same point last year despite competition from the new EGN event, according to event director Andy Lane of CMP.
Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz last week, Lane said that the trade show - which will be held in Earls Court in west London at the start of September, the same dates as EGN in ExCeL on the opposite side of the city - has already booked over half a million pounds worth of business, and has over 2000 visitors pre-registered to attend.
He confirmed the popular European Game Developer's Conference event (GDCE) will take place alongside the trade show again this year, and said that the company is still in discussions with Sony about the possibility of a PlayStation Experience event at Earls Court, although no decision has yet been reached by the platform holder.
And he was deeply critical of the planned EGN event, accusing show proponents ELSPA of creating an event which will only serve the desires of a small group of its members and failing to provide for the requirements of the industry at large.
Lane pointed to the lack of availability of smaller, less expensive stands at the EGN event, and alleged plans to charge certain types of attendees - including retailers - an entrance fee, as examples of an approach which would, he claimed, render the show untenable for smaller companies in the industry.
He also expressed concern at the level of commitment EGN organisers London Event Co would have to the industry in the long run, pointing out that CMP has a long-standing investment in the games industry via the ECTS and GDC events, and has shown its commitment to continue running events even through difficult times in the past - such as the decision to continue with ECTS after the widely criticised show at ExCeL three years ago.
Although he acknowledged that the running of two shows in parallel in London this autumn would inconvenience a large number of people, he was downbeat on the prospects of an agreement being reached between ECTS and EGN which would prevent this from happening. "We have extended the olive branch to ELSPA and offered to discuss this with them," he told GI, "but the response that came back from Roger [Bennett, ELSPA's director general] was that they would be happy to work together with us on an event as long as that event was called EGN, was held at ExCeL and was organised by London Event Co."
"I think that the most likely outcome is that both events will run," he continued, "which will be damaging for both of us." In this eventuality, he believes, visitor and exhibitor numbers at both shows would be negatively impacted. However, he reiterated his view that while CMP remained committed to ECTS going forward, London Event Co was "likely" to pull out of the market if either EGN, or the highly ambitious GameStars Live event, was commercially unsuccessful.
Lane's statements are in contrast to the picture being painted by representatives of ELSPA and the EGN organisers, who have been stating in private that it's unlikely that ECTS will go ahead this year. However, while CMP may be confident of ECTS' viability as a show for this year, the real difficulty still hangs over both events - namely that faced with a trek across London to visit two weakened trade shows, many visitors will simply choose not to attend either.