E3 opened to the public for the first time this year, and it was a nightmare for everyone and could have been a lot worse. Here’s why.
We’ll start with the events security, which will always be a big factor at any event, and after recent events in the UK specifically, you would have thought that the ESA would have stepped up security. However, security seemed almost non-existent at the three-day long convention. We experienced tighter security at every press conference we attended.
On many occasions throughout the three-day event, we saw people just wondering into the convention halls without badges through side entrances or even main entrances that had no security on them at times. During our time in the convention center we came across a grand total of four police officers and one sniffer dog. Following last year’s badge snatching from the registration booth, it seems this year people got cockier and snatched peoples badges directly off their necks and sold them off to people who wanted to attend for a sneaky few bucks.
With over 68,400 people attending this year’s E3 convention, and security wasn’t the only thing that went wrong and made the event a lot less enjoyable versus previous years.
Outrage erupted on day one when people realized they had to queue to get on games, sometimes hours of waiting. Almost as if queuing was a foreign concept to most people. Its natural guys, even media had to queue for things prior to public access (but not for hours, if you don't include Zelda last year), especially if the press slots got booked.
A lot of developers and publishers were forced to deal with the sudden influx of people and demand on the spot. A few fights broke out when swag had run out or lines were cut short due to fire marshal regulations and some people waited 5 hours to play 20 minute demos.
It felt like there was almost a constant battle between media trying to get content and consumers just wondering into cameras and interviews just completely bewildered that they were at E3.
PlayStation had the neat idea of introducing an app (Experience PlayStation) which allowed you to reserve a slot for a specific time, but due to demand it often crashed and within a few minutes all slots were booked. We dropped by a number of these titles to see how many people show up for a reserved time slot, to which only a few showed up. This led us to believe someone had been reserving slots falsely. A future suggestion for an app like this would be to use the QR code on the E3 badges to ensure people attending are the ones reserving the slots, and not just anyone, to help with demand. None the less it was a welcomed addition to the event.
So how can the ESA improve E3 for everyone? Rather simply actually, follow Gamescom's example allowing for three days of media/industry access then two/three days public access. Given that E3 is primarily an industry event from media promotions to business to business stuff, this would allow the B2B and Media stuff to be done within the first three days before public access. This would drastically cut down crowds and allow consumers to attend. This would allow you to up the consumer attendance in future and helps the industry to plan better in future for the demand. The other alternative is to throw out that three-year contract with the LA convention center and move to Orlando convention center for the sheer size to help with the demand.