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Two concurrent UK trade shows "won't happen again" - ELSPA chief

ELSPA director general Roger Bennett expressed his pleasure at the success of Game Stars Live and EGN yesterday, but admitted resolution was needed to avoid a repeat of the EGN vs. ECTS debacle.

ELSPA director general Roger Bennett toasted the debut success of EGN and Game Stars Live yesterday, but admitted that running two trade shows concurrently across London must never happen again.

In a bizarre turn of events which has resulted in much finger pointing and blame apportioning, the long established CMP-organised events ECTS and GDCE are this week competing directly with the ELSPA-backed London Games Week, which encompasses the trade focused EGN, the consumer facing Games Stars Live as well as the European Developer Forum.

As a result, both events have had to fight hard to attract the biggest names, although on the evidence of the initial popularity of Game Stars Live it appears that the lure of the consumer has been the deciding factor, with the likes of Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Activision, Ubisoft, Atari, and Konami all reaping the rewards of exhibiting a strong line-up.

But Bennett's concerns run deeper than local pride, with German-based event Games Convention emerging over the last two years as Europe's premier event. "We can't have two events operating at the same time," he said yesterday. "It won't happen again, or we run the risk of losing the whole thing to Leipzig".

Bennett admitted his top priority going forward was to seek a resolution with CMP event director Andy Lane to join forces once again "for the good of the UK games industry".

Despite the unprecedented war of the words in the press between the two men, Bennett said his did not foresee there being a problem working with CMP and Lane again.

Although Game Stars Live, and to a lesser extent EGN, has been an initial success - and certainly a huge improvement on the previous ExCeL-based ECTS in 2001, the developer forums have been a big disappointment, with one senior attendee admitting privately that during several seminar sessions the people on stage outnumbered the audience.

With the developer focused ECTS having seemingly won that particular battle, and Game Stars Live proving to be a hit with the consumers, the truth is that both shows need one another. It seems to now be a question of when rather than if the two camps will work together again - and that will come as a major relief for everyone connected as the UK tries once again to get its house in order to build a viable European alternative to E3; albeit one that uses the hunger of the consumer to attract the many stay-away publishers back.

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Kristan Reed avatar
Kristan Reed: Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.