Electronic Entertainment Expo

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Electronic Entertainment Expo
E3 Logo.svg
Los Angeles Convention Center ~ West Wing (7535547820).jpg
The Los Angeles Convention Center (west wing view) where the event takes place each year
Venue Los Angeles Convention Center
Location(s) Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°02′23″N118°16′13″W / 34.039737°N 118.270293°W / 34.039737; -118.270293 Coordinates: 34°02′23″N118°16′13″W / 34.039737°N 118.270293°W / 34.039737; -118.270293
Country United States
InauguratedMay 11, 1995;24 years ago (1995-05-11)
Most recentJune 2019 (2019-06)
Next eventJune 9, 2020;11 months' time (2020-06-09)
AttendanceDecrease2.svg 66,100 (2019) [1]
Organized by Entertainment Software Association
Website www.e3expo.com/show

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly referred to as E3, is a premier trade-event for the video-game industry. [2] The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) organizes and presents E3, which many developers, publishers, hardware- and accessory-manufacturers use to introduce and advertise upcoming games and game-related merchandise to retailers and to members of the press. E3 includes an exhibition floor for developers, publishers, and manufacturers to showcase titles and products for sale in the upcoming year. Before and during the event, publishers and hardware manufacturers usually hold press conferences to announce new games and products.

Trade fair exhibition organized so that companies can showcase or/and demonstrate their newest products

A trade fair is an exhibition organized so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services, meet with industry partners and customers, study activities of rivals, and examine recent market trends and opportunities. In contrast to consumer fairs, only some trade fairs are open to the public, while others can only be attended by company representatives and members of the press, therefore trade shows are classified as either "public" or "trade only". A few fairs are hybrids of the two; one example is the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is trade only for its first three days and open to the general public on its final two days. They are held on a continuing basis in virtually all markets and normally attract companies from around the globe. For example, in the U.S., there are currently over 10,000 trade shows held every year, and several online directories have been established to help organizers, attendees, and marketers identify appropriate events.

Entertainment Software Association

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is the trade association of the video game industry in the United States. It was formed in April 1994 as the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) and renamed on July 21, 2003. It is based in Washington, D.C. Most of the top publishers in the gaming world are members of the ESA, including Capcom, Electronic Arts, Konami, Microsoft, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Nintendo, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Square Enix, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

A video game developer is a software developer that specializes in video game development – the process and related disciplines of creating video games. A game developer can range from one person who undertakes all tasks to a large business with employee responsibilities split between individual disciplines, such as programming, design, art, testing, etc. Most game development companies have video game publisher financial and usually marketing support. Self-funded developers are known as independent or indie developers and usually make indie games.


Over time E3 has been considered the largest gaming-expo of the year. [3] [4] [5] [6] Before 2017 E3 was an industry-only event; [7] the ESA required individuals wishing to attend to verify a professional connection to the video-game industry. With the rise of streaming media, several of the press conferences were broadcast to the public to increase their visibility. [8] In 2017 E3 became open to the public for the first time, with 15,000 general-admittance passes for those who wanted to attend. [9]

Professional person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks and to complete them for a fee

A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform their specific role within that profession. In addition, most professionals are subject to strict codes of conduct, enshrining rigorous ethical and moral obligations. Professional standards of practice and ethics for a particular field are typically agreed upon and maintained through widely recognized professional associations, such as the IEEE. Some definitions of "professional" limit this term to those professions that serve some important aspect of public interest and the general good of society.

Streaming media Continuous multimedia operated and presented to users by a provider

Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. The verb "to stream" refers to the process of delivering or obtaining media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself, and is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it.

E3 takes place annually in June at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) in the United States, with E3 2020 scheduled for June 9–11. [10]

Los Angeles Convention Center Convention center in the southwest section of downtown Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Convention Center is a convention center in the southwest section of downtown Los Angeles. It hosts multiple annual conventions and has often been used as a filming location in TV shows and movies.



Before E3, game publishers went to other trade shows like Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the European Computer Trade Show to display new or upcoming products as to pre-sell shipments to retailers for the rest of the year including the late-year holiday season as well as to view for press coverage of upcoming games. As the game industry grew rapidly during the early 1990s, industry professionals felt that it had outgrown the older trade shows. According to Tom Kalinske, CEO of Sega America, "The CES organizers used to put the video game industry way, way in the back. In 1991, they put us in a tent, and you had to walk past all the porn vendors to find us. That particular year it was pouring rain, and the rain leaked right over our new Genesis system. I was just furious with the way CES treated the video game industry, and I felt we were a more important industry than they were giving us credit for." Sega did not return to CES the following year, and several other companies exited from further CES shows. [11]

Consumer Electronics Show electronics and technology trade show

CES is an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, the event typically hosts presentations of new products and technologies in the consumer electronics industry.

The European Computer Trade Show, commonly known as ECTS, was an annual trade show for the European computer and video game industry, which first ran in 1988, with the last event occurring in 2004.

Thomas "Tom" Kalinske is an American businessman, best known as having worked for Mattel 1972-87, reviving the Barbie & Hot Wheels Brands, launching Masters of the Universe, then being promoted to CEO of Mattel from 1985 to 1987. Next he was CEO of Matchbox, and then was recruited to be the president and CEO of Sega of America, Inc. from 1990 to 1996, and the CEO and COB of Leapfrog 1997-2006. His aggressive marketing decisions during his time at Sega, such as price drops, anti-Nintendo attack ads, and the famous "Sega Scream" TV campaign, are often cited as key elements in the success of the Genesis video game console. He is currently the Executive Chairman of Global Education Learning, a company dedicated to children's education in China.

Separately, in 1994, the video game industry had formed the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA, later becoming the Entertainment Software Association, ESA, in 2003) in response to attention the industry had drawn from the United States Congress over a lack of a ratings system in late 1993. The IDSA was formed to unify the video game industry and establish a commission, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to create a voluntary standard rating system that was approved by Congress. [12] [13]

E3's first logo (1995-2017) Electronic Entertainment Expo.svg
E3's first logo (1995–2017)

The industry recognized that it needed some type of trade show for retailers. According to Eliot Minsker, chairman and CEO of Knowledge Industry Publications (which produced and promoted the show with Infotainment World), "Retailers have pointed to the need for an interpretive event that will help them make smarter buying decisions by interacting with a wide range of publishers, vendors, industry influentials, and opinion leaders in a focused show setting." [14] Attempts were made between the video game companies and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which ran CES, to improve how video games were treated at CES, but these negotiations failed to produce a result. [12] Pat Ferrell, creator of GamePro which was owned by International Data Group (IDG), conceived of an idea for starting a dedicated trade show for video games, building off IDG's established experience in running the Macworld convention. Ferrell contacted the IDSA who saw the appeal of using their position in the industry to create a video game-specific tradeshow, and offered to co-found the Electronic Entertainment Expo with IDG. [12]

<i>GamePro</i> US video game magazine

GamePro was an American multiplatform video game magazine media company that published online and print content covering the video game industry, video game hardware and video game software. The magazine featured content on various video game consoles, PC computers and mobile devices. Gamepro Media properties included GamePro magazine and their website. The company was also a part subsidiary of the privately held International Data Group (IDG), a media, events and research technology group.

International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) is a Chinese-owned media, data and marketing services and venture capital organization. IDG evolved from International Data Corporation (IDC) which was founded in 1964 in Newtonville, Massachusetts, by Patrick Joseph McGovern. IDC provides market research and advisory services and is now a subsidiary of IDG. IDG operates in 97 countries and is headquartered in Boston. IDG's brands include CIO, Computerworld, PCWorld, Macworld, InfoWorld, and JavaWorld. IDG produces these and its other publications on a national level in each country.

Produced by Boston-based IDG World Expo, Macworld/iWorld is a trade show with conference tracks dedicated to the Apple Macintosh platform. It was held annually in the United States during January. Originally Macworld Expo and then Macworld Conference & Exposition, the gathering dates back to 1985.

Though several companies agreed to present at this E3 event, Ferrell discovered that CEA had offered video game companies a dedicated space at the next CES, which would have conflicted with the planned E3 event, requiring the companies to pick one or the other. Most of the IDSA members supported E3, while Nintendo and Microsoft were still supportive of the CES approach. After about three-to-four months, Ferrell was told by CEA's CEO Gary Shapiro that he "won" and had cancelled the CES video game event, effectively making E3 the premier trade show for the video game industry. [12]

Growth and success through first decade (1995–2006)

Los Angeles Convention Center during E3 2005, with an Atari banner hanging over the South Hall lobby LA Conference Centre E3 2005.jpg
Los Angeles Convention Center during E3 2005, with an Atari banner hanging over the South Hall lobby

The first event was held from May 11–13, 1995 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which would generally be the convention's location in future years. [15] The organizers were unsure of how successful this would be, but by the end of the convention, they had booked most of the space at the Convention Center, and saw more than 40,000 attendees. [12] In the aftermath of its first year, E3 was already regarded as the biggest event in the video game industry. [6] The IDSA realized the strength of a debut trade show, and subsequently renegotiated with IDG to allow the IDSA to take full ownership of the show and the intellectual property associated with the name, while hiring IDG to help with execution of the event. [12] The show remained held at May of the calendar year through 2006.

In 1996, IDG and the IDSA tried a Japanese version of E3, in preparation for a worldwide series of events, at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo (as E3 Tokyo '96) in association with TV Asahi. Although Sony Computer Entertainment was the show's original sponsor, the company withdrew its support in favor of its PlayStation Expo. Sega pulled out at the last minute, leaving Nintendo the only big-three company to appear. Held November 1–4, 1996, the presence of several other gaming expos and lack of support from Japanese game manufacturers led to turnout reported as poor [16] [17] and rumored E3 events in Singapore and Canada did not take place. [18]

Due to failed negotiations for the convention space in Los Angeles, the 1997 and 1998 E3 conventions were held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. [19] [20] The show returned to the Los Angeles Convention Center in 1999, and continued to grow in attendance, ranging from 60,000 to 70,000 attendees. [12]

In addition to the event, E3 started to support (or became associated with) several websites. One was E365, introduced in 2006, [21] an online community which attendees used to network and schedule meetings.

Media and Business Summit biennium (2007–2008)

Following the 2006 convention, IDGAnow ESAfound that many exhibitors were worried about the high costs of presenting at the event, spending between $5–$10 million for their booths. [12] They had also found that a larger proportion of attendees were bloggers and attendees who were not perceived to be industry professionals by vendors, managing to secure access to the conference. These additional attendees diluted the vendors' ability to reach out to their target audience, retailers and journalists. [22] Both of these reasons had previously caused the COMDEX trade show to shut down. [22] Several large vendors told the ESA that they were going to pull out of the next E3, which would have had a domino effect on other vendors. [12]

To avoid this, the ESA announced in July 2006 that E3 would be downsized and restructured due to the overwhelming demand from the exhibitors, and would limit attendees to those from the media and retail sectors. [23] For 2007 and 2008, E3 was renamed to the E3 Media and Business Summit, and moved into the July timeframe, about two months later in the year than previous shows. The 2007 show was held at the Barker Hanger at the Santa Monica Airport and other nearby hotels in Santa Monica, California, limited attendance to about 10,000. [19] The 2008 event returned to the Los Angeles Convention Center, but also capped attendance at about 5,000. [24]

ESA was harshly criticized for these smaller events. [24] [12] Industry analyst Michael Pachter said that because consumers had been eliminated from attending the events, there was little external media coverage of these E3's, reducing the visibility and commercialization opportunities for publishers, and postulated that without a change, E3 would become extinct. [25] Pachter also found that retailers were less interested in E3 due to the later calendar date. [26]

E3 onward: 2009–present

Responding to the complaints from the previous two years, the ESA announced that the 2009 E3 would be more open, but capping attendance at about 45,000 and closed to the public, as to achieve a balance between the two extremes. [12] All subsequent E3s have taken place in June of the calendar year at the Los Angeles Convention Center. [12]

E3 2015 with Uncharted 4: A Thief's End banner E3 2015.jpg
E3 2015 with Uncharted 4: A Thief's End banner

Starting in 2013, some of the major video game companies, particularly Nintendo and Electronic Arts, have opted not to showcase at E3. In Nintendo's case, they have foregone a large keynote presentation and instead have used pre-recorded Nintendo Direct and live video events during the E3 week since 2013 to showcase their new products, though they still run floor booths for hands-on demonstrations. [12] Electronic Arts since 2016, have set up a separate EA Play event in a nearby locale to announce and exhibit their titles, citing the move as a result of the lack of public access to the main E3 show. [27] Other vendors, like Microsoft and Sony have used pre-E3 events to showcase hardware reveals, leaving the E3 event to cover new games for these systems. [12]

By 2015, traditional video game marketing had been augmented by the use of publicity through word-of-mouth by average gamers, persons not normally part of the "professional" development community. The ESA began to seek ways to allow these people to attend E3 in limited numbers without overwhelming the normal attendees. [27] [28] For E3 2015, 5000 tickets were distributed to vendors to be given to fans to be able to attend the event. [29] E3 2016 featured a separate but free "E3 Live" event at the nearby L.A. Live space that was to help provide a small-scale version of the E3 experience. While it drew about 20,000 people, it was found to be underwhelming. [30] [31] In 2017, the ESA reserved 15,000 tickets to the convention for members of the public to buy; [32] these were all sold, leading to more than 68,000 attendees during E3 2017, which led to noticeable crowding and floor management issues. [33] [34] ESA confirmed that E3 2018 would include public passes, but that for two of the days, the event would be open only to industry attendees for three hours prior to admitting the public. [35]

The ESA unveiled the new logo for E3, replacing its previous one using three-dimensional block letters with a flatter, stylized graphic, in October 2017. [36]

While the ESA has the Convention Center space reserved through 2019, ESA's CEO Mike Gallagher said, following the 2017 event, that they were considering other options due to lack of modernization and upgrades that the Center has had to make the space more appropriate for their needs. [37] Gallagher said that the ESA was working with the City and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) which owns the Los Angeles Convention Center and the space around it, with plans to have nearly 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2) of additional exhibition space added by 2020, but they would have judge this in the 2018 show. [38] With E3 2018, the event drew 69,200 attendees, the largest since 2005. [39]

With announcements of the dates for E3 2019, the ESA declined to state where they have planned to hold the 2020 event. [40] The ESA later affirmed they have renegotiated use of the LACC through 2023, but retain the rights to break that contract if desired. [41] Sony Interactive Entertainment has announced that it would not be participating in E3 2019, having had participated in every E3 since its launch. Sony stated that they "are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019". [42] Sony's CEO Shawn Layden stated in a February 2019 interview that with changes in retailer procurement, their own switch to fewer but more quality titles, and the rapid spread of news via the Internet that having a trade show as late as June is no longer helpful, and that Sony had to create its own Destination PlayStation experience in February as to secure retailer sales. [43] According to Industry Analyst Michael Patcher, speaking to GamingBolt, he said, "I think it’s a mistake to skip the show, they will probably be there without a big booth. It was a surprise to me". [44]

During the last day of the event in 2019, it was confirmed that E3 would be held at the LACC for at least another year, with the 2020 edition. [10]

Event history

Event nameDatesLocationAttendanceMajor PresentersNotes
E3 1995 May 1113, 1995 Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California50,000 [45] Nintendo, Sega, Sony Debut show.
E3 1996May 1618, 199657,795 [46] Nintendo, Sega, Scavenger, Inc., Sony [47]
E3 1997June 1921, 1997 Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia Nintendo, Sega, Sony Moved to Atlanta due to inability to secure LA Convention Center.
E3 1998May 2830, 1998 Nintendo, Sega, Sony
E3 1999May 1315, 1999 Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California Nintendo, Sega, Sony
E3 2000May 1113, 2000 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sega, Sony
E3 2001May 1719, 2001 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sega, Sony
E3 2002May 2224, 2002 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony
E3 2003May 1416, 200360,000 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony
E3 2004May 1114, 200465,000 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony
E3 2005May 1820, 200570,000 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Current E3 attendance record. [39]
E3 2006May 1012, 200660,000 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony
E3 Media & Business Summit 2007July 1113, 2007 Santa Monica Airport, Santa Monica, California10,000 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony More limited space to reduce public participation focused more on media and retailer attendees.
E3 Media & Business Summit 2008July 1517, 2008 Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, California10,000 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony
E3 2009 June 24, 200941,000 Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Return to original format, allowing additional game development professions access in addition to media and retailers.
E3 2010 June 1417, 201045,600 Electronic Arts, Konami, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft
E3 2011 June 79, 201146,800 Electronic Arts, Konami, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft
E3 2012 June 57, 201245,700 Electronic Arts, Konami, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft
E3 2013 June 1113, 201348,200 Electronic Arts, Konami, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft Nintendo began their tradition of using pre-recorded video events rather than a press conference from this show onward.
E3 2014 June 1012, 201448,900 Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft
E3 2015 June 1618, 201552,200 Bethesda Softworks, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Oculus VR, Sony, Square Enix, Ubisoft Introduction of the "PC Gaming Show", featuring games for personal computers across a range of developers and publishers. Since this year Bethesda Softworks held its own annual conference.
E3 2016 June 1416, 201650,300 Bethesda Softworks, Electronic Arts, Kadokawa Games, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Square Enix, Ubisoft Starting from this year, Electronic Arts did not present at the convention center but at a separate "EA Play" event prior to the start of E3.
E3 2017 June 1315, 201768,400 Bethesda Softworks, Devolver Digital, Electronic Arts, Intel, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft First show open to public, with 15,000 public passes sold.
E3 2018 June 1214, 201869,200 Atlus, Bethesda Softworks, Devolver Digital, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Square Enix, Ubisoft The event drew 69,200 attendees, the largest since 2005.
E3 2019 June 1113, 201966,100 [1] Bethesda Softworks, Devolver Digital, Microsoft, Nintendo, Square Enix, Ubisoft The first show in the history of E3 that Sony did not attend. [48]
E3 2020June 911, 2020

See also

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