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New admission rules for E3 attendees

Barcode system intended to weed out scalpers and counterfeits

A new ticketing system will be in place at this year's E3, in response to rising numbers of counterfeit and resold tickets being encountered on the doors.

Previously, badges were mailed out to press well before the event to streamline access to the show, but an investigation by Gamasutra into recent changes in the event's media policy has revealed that too many counterfeit tickets were in circulation as smaller blogs copied and redistributed badges.

Attendees were also requesting re-issues for passes, having lost or sold them on. Online prices for badges, both real and counterfeit, had reportedly reached as high as $700.

Instead of badges being mailed, journalists will now receive a barcode when they purchase tickets, which must be either printed or brought to the show on a smartphone. This barcode can then be scanned at the door and a pass issued.

"We think this is a solution that checks off a number of different boxes," says Dan Hewitt, senior director of communications & industry affairs for E3's organising body the ESA. "It will prevent some of the problems we've had with fake badges. It also increases efficiency at the show. It will speed up the process a lot."

However, the move seems aimed more directly at reducing fraudulent entry to the show than curtailing the selling of fake tickets, as counterfeit barcodes - which will of course be turned down at the venue - are easily reproduced. Nonetheless, any copies of valid barcodes will be traceable back to the original purchaser, hopefully allowing the ESA to crack down on at least some aspects of the counterfeiting.

As E3 is a trade only show, with no public access day, the event has suffered from any number of non-media and industry interlopers posing as journalists or exhibitors. Hewitt says that the possibility of bypassing the problem by allowing the public access for at least one of the show's days has been mulled over many times.

"That's a conversation we have every year," says Hewitt. "At the end of the show, we do a top to bottom review of what worked and what didn't, where do we need to improve in terms of logistics and the overall look and feel of the event."

"The idea of having a consumer's day or separate event is something we also look at. Right now, though, it's the feeling of the leaders of the industry that we've got a good format that's meeting the needs of the industry. ... So we're confident in the [current] format right now."

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