Every year the editors of Game Industry News head to LA (it used to be Atlanta) to parlay with just about everyone in the industry. And while news organizations and instant communications have made E3 less of a necessity, it's still the largest tribal gathering for our industry. Just about everyone in the industry attends the show in some form or another. Many companies hold back important news leading up to the show so they can shine more during the big event.
This year GiN has four editors at the show, having arrived early in the morning. We raced over to the convention center and everyone but me is now out on the show floor or taking a myriad of scheduled appointments. We will be bringing you news and photos from the show each day so you can experience all the fun and news-worthy announcements.
The show itself is surprisingly large this year. Other shows I have attended over the past two years seemed like scaled-down versions of their former selves. The poor economy is primarily to blame. But I've always said that the game industry is somewhat isolated from the overall economy and this year's E3 seems to prove that point. People like to play games, and unless it comes down to "should I eat this week or buy that new computer game" then this industry should be pretty recession-proof.
There are some obvious cost-cutting measures going on at the show. Some companies that are in attendance don't have booths. You can tell because they want to meet in the cafeteria or "beside the green sign" or something at the show. I don't blame them. Trade show booths are expensive and if you can meet with editors to talk about your product without all the cost, then you can't blame them. Also the perks seem a bit subdued. In previous years it was "stop by and get a nylon ski jacket and matching bag featuring our cool logo" and this year it's a bit more like "please come by and register to win this cool pen."
But cost-cutting aside, E3 has all the glitz and pizzazz of previous years. Of all the shows I attend, E3 has the most character by far. Wacky stunts and even some over-the-top ploys over the years have seen both success (army tanks) and dismal failure (topless boxing nuns) depending on who you ask. But you won't find any other show like it.
As far as news this year? I'll leave most of that up to the editors on the floor. But here is what I expect to see based on both rumors and previous experience. All three consoles will announce a price drop. This will probably occur today. Nintendo will be most hurt in this because the GameCube is already priced so low. When you can pick up a console game system for less than the cost of a new cell phone, the company can't be making any money on the deal. Microsoft will of course lower their Xbox price to try and beat Sony, and Sony, knowing this, will lower their price on the PS2 even more. It's a funny game the companies play considering they make all their money on the games anyway.
And speaking of companies, Sega is certainly going to be swallowed by someone. The former gaming great and top dog is having a rough time at being just a game developer. They kind of jumped the tracks when they lost the Dreamcast. It's an open secret that they are up for sale. There is about a 50 percent chance we will find out who is going to be the buyer this week. My money is on Microsoft for no other reason than they can outbid everyone involved if they so choose. And if Microsoft can't make killer games, they have a history of buying up those who can.
Bungie after all made the Xbox "killer application" Halo. Bungie originally refused to put Halo on the Xbox and within a month the Bungie crew were all wearing Microsoft shirts and getting new employee orientations. Then Halo became an Xbox-only title. Sorry to the Mac gamers who were expecting a new shooter.
And having the most recognized character on the console side of the business: Mr. Sonic the hedgehog himself pitching games for Microsoft has got to be an attractive option for them. So you have a great benefit and unlimited resources, so I think Microsoft will take this one. I could be wrong, but I think we may soon see one way or the other during the show.
In terms of coverage, this is what we have planned for the week. Todd Hargosh will be doing a daily show report focusing on the highlights and major news events each day. We will have photos from the show showing some of the coolest and sometimes most bizarre sights each day. And we will have industry happenings constantly running down the right side of the page. These will scroll indefinitely until next Monday when things get back to normal. So we will make sure you don't miss a thing.
So now it's time for me to leave this somewhat empty pressroom (everyone is out at the show now) and head out to my first appointment for the day, which incidentally is a meeting with Gary Coleman, the Running with Scissors Team and the "Girls of Postal 2," whoever they are. God help me.