Greetings and welcome to what officially is day one of Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. The difference being today Journalists, buyers, and friends of friends in the industry are joined by thousands of sweaty gamers looking to score their newest free fashion statement inside the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Before the doors of the convention center opened at noon, Nintendo got there moment in the media spotlight. The company has moved from a lavish live stage presentation to a more subtle digital press conference for everyone. Admittedly, I have yet to watch it as there’s no Wi-Fi in the convention center. I’ll post it here so we can all bask in what I’m told is not their finest hour, but there are puppets so the universe evens out again.
Once the show floor opened, day one was spent in the west hall of LACC taking in hands on demos and brief conversations with most of Warner Bros Interactive’s soon to be released games: Mad Max, Arkham Knight, Lego Marvel’s Avengers. (Lego Dimensions will be later this week) We’ll go in-depth about each game on Comics Beat soon. As a note, WB is not sparing expense when it comes to marketing Arkham Knight and Mad Max. Not that it really needs it, I mean look…
Comics Beat was also graciously invited by Harmonix to check out the thunderous return of music party gaming with Rockband 4 and we’ll talk about everything coming to the game later on.
For now let’s talk about how this show is a comparison and contrast to those little San Diego Comic Cons we all love so much. For starters, E3 is a trade show. Among the horde of rabid gamers, you’ll spot a ton of suits negotiating purchasing deals and talking about what it feels like to swim in pools filled with gold coins instead of water. In a way there’s more riding on a show like this financially than any other appearance these publishers make. Every company who invests in space on the E3 floor has to make a big splash. It’s because of this that “theatricality” best sums up the E3 floor.
If you look on Instagram.com/comicsbeat you’ll see a few shots of the outside of the building where most of the major game releases have draped their stadium sized banners over the convention center. Each of the lobbies in the two exhibit halls have also been converted into demo space and extravagant displays. Xbox used the lobby space to build a more than modest sized stage to broadcast from the show daily while Mad Max put up a replica vehicle in front of them. Even in one of the off corners of the lobby the Dark Souls game thought it prime real estate for a huge statue that erupted with fake blood.
Then you actually go inside…
From the moment you walk into either of the exhibit halls (Yes there are two!) you’ll notice a distinct lack of fluorescent lighting. It’s replaced by dim ceiling lighting that makes way for an entire exhibit hall that’s adopted the — look at me — lighting scheme of a Rammstein concert. Most of the booths on the floor are massive, it would take two DC Comics booths from SDCC to occupy a space the size of an Activision at E3. Each publisher’s booth is a small miracle of design and engineering as a they have to cram one sometimes two 20-30 person capacity theaters in their space along with hands-on kiosks for regular attendee game demos, not to mention an area for employees, VIPs, and media.
The floor at E3 is more of an assault on the senses than any Comic Con.
Even if you can manage to get into E3, just because you’re at a trade show doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with overflowing lines to play the games or even coffee. Shows like these that even have a modicum of a general audience often have a tiered system of attendees. Major media outlets, CEOs or buyers for major retail chains, other publishers, and celebrities are the only people that almost instantly get to go hands on with the games most people there would sell their children for. If independent media outlets are relentless enough, they might be able to book sessions where they can pop in on a demo. The majority of the people there are waiting. Today, I heard stories of some people waiting up to 3hrs in line just to play Star Wars Battlefront.
We’re back at it again in just a few short hours. Remember these are just some editorial thoughts on the show’s design and layout itself. Check back for in-depth coverage of hands on game demos and interviews.
As we go back in tomorrow, we’ll go hands on with more games and talk about women emerging in the gaming industry.