IDG Plans Computer Games Event to Fill E3 Void

IDG World Expo will attempt to fill the void left by the scaling back of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) computer games show by starting a new event in 2007 aimed at gamers, it said Wednesday.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the group that runs E3, said about three months ago that it intends to reorganize the event to focus more tightly on a core group of invited game developers, distributors, retailers and journalists. E3, which for a long time has been the leading computer gaming expo in North America, attracted more than 60,000 visitors last year, but the high number meant that exhibitors faced problems getting noticed among all the razzmatazz.

The new show will endeavor to re-create the same buzz as E3 while avoiding the headaches for exhibitors. That job will fall to Mary Dolaher, who is joining IDG World Expo as vice president from a similar position at the ESA. (IDG World Expo is a division of International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.)

"We need to manage expectations," she said in a telephone interview. "The industry has spoken loud and clear" and wants attendance at the event to be managed closely.

Most details of the exhibition have yet to be decided, but a date and place has been chosen: Oct. 18-20, 2007, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Dolaher said she intends to give consumers a chance to see and play new titles over the show’s three-day run. Exhibitors will be allowed to sell games on the show floor, and a ticket will likely cost about US$100 for three days, according to current plans.

IDG World Expo plans to leave the name of the show up to the potential visitors and has set up a website through which naming suggestions can be submitted.

In addition to announcing plans for the show, IDG World Expo said it’s been awarded a contract by the ESA to manage the E3Expo Media and Business Summit, the business-focused event being planned by the ESA for July 2007 to take the place of E3.

That event will likely be capped at about 3,000 people and be hosted at seven hotels in Santa Monica, Calif., Dolaher said. Hotel rooms will have their furnishings removed and be turned into meeting space where exhibitors can talk with potential clients and journalists. There will be a larger space at the nearby Barker Hanger where large events can be staged. Invitations to the event will be controlled and it’s aimed at game producers, top-tier media, major retailers and developers, she said.

The big three console makers—Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony Computer Entertainment—will all be at the latter event, Dolaher added.

-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)

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