Countdown to E3

What's E3 All About Anyway?

Our countdown now ticks over to only 11 days remaining until E3 2011. While most of us are well-versed with E3 by now, there are still so many people lacking in knowledge and experience, which is unfortunate – for them. We know that some of our viewers here at Zelda Informer are yet to loose their E3 virginity, and this will be the year.

For those of you who are new to the world of the interwebz gaming alliance (makes us sound cool right? No…. shame), read on for a rundown of what E3 is and why its so special. For the rest of us E3 veterans, you’ll find a nice history lesson on E3 as well as some fun-facts (how “fun” they are is debatable) – that you’re not going to know unless you spend your days memorizing everything to do with E3. So read on my pretties, both the E3 virginal and the promiscuous, because if you’re not excited yet I’m willing to bet gaming isn’t your thing.

E3, The Electronic Entertainment Expo, is more than just a clever way of abbreviating a long name. Sometimes, it is referred to as the E3 Expo, which is stupid because you might as well say “Electronic Entertainment Expo Expo”, or to be more hip – “Electronic Entertainment Expo2”. Let’s just play it safe and call it E3.

E3 is a annual gaming convention held in May and/or June which is owned and operated by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The ESA is basically the US trade association of the video game industry, so most of the world’s top game developing companies are members of the ESA. Every year at E3 these companies gather together into one place – usually the Los Angeles Convention Center – to show off new hardware, new software, new projects and to talk about company performance, and whatever else really.

E3 Statue

Of course this includes Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft – but also all of the other developers such as Atari, Capcom, Disney, EA, Konami, Namco Bandai Games, Sega, Square Enix, THQ, Ubisoft, and others.

With all of these guys together in one place, E3 is the number one day on the gaming world’s calendar. It is where consoles are announced and revealed, where new games are announced and demos playable. Developers spend the most money on their E3 presentations out of all presentations they give all year. No other gaming conference, not even GDC (Game Developers Conference), comes close to the grandeur of E3. Then event is even capped off with a vast array of awards.

What makes up the days at the Expo you ask? Well there are press conferences/presentations from all the developers where all of their announcements are made, and then there’s the show floor where demos of all the latest upcoming games are playable. It is a media swamped event with breaking news all over the place, interviews with the top figureheads of world gaming, and even celebrities show up from time to time – like Tony Hawk to shamelessly promote one of his games.

For us at home, E3 is all about live streams and continuous updates on fansites about new games. For those at the expo, one thing E3 is known for is the wait. The waiting in line to try the upcoming games. It can range from hours to insane amounts of time, with some poor people being turned away. Persistence pays off.

The first E3 was held from May 11th to May 13th in 1995, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which has since remained it’s home – 2007 being the only exception. E3 2007 was held in Santa Monica California from the 11th to 13th of July. Keynote presentations at the first E3 in 1995 included Sega, Sony and Nintendo. The first E3 remains one of the largest trade show launches ever, with over 80,000 attendees and over 1.2 million feet of show space.

E3 in the past has struggled with whether to make it a free-for-all event, invite only, registration-required and basically every issue related to who can and can’t go. From 1995 to 2006 the event had been through industry registration, with attendances ranging from 40,000 to over 80,000 people. In 2007 and 2008 the event was made invite only, with only 3000 to 5000 attendees. From 2009 E3 has returned to the industry registration method, so draws much larger crowds to the show floors, but keeps the main keynotes like Nintendo’s invite only (wooo that’s us!)

The industry registration approach means that the event is attended by professional journalists of all kinds that must register and be approved to attend – having to show off their credentials. While original E3s were dominated mostly by print journalists (magazines and newspapers), these days it is much broader. There are also TV journalists, online journalists (for sites like IGN), and the best of them all, “fansite” journalists – that’s us. We get to experience the show and be part of the media that shares the news with the world to hype up the upcoming game hardware and software.

To be invited into specific keynote presentations you need to have a medium (a website in our case) that is going to cover news on more than just one specific franchise. As a Zelda fansite in the past, we have never been in Nintendo’s live conference before, but due to our movement to “Zelda Informer Plus” which also covers general Nintendo news, we are a valid media outlet to promote all of Nintendo’s announcements, and not just Zelda. So expect us to be covering all of Nintendo’s news live and first hand from E3.

E3 2011

Getting back to the history of E3, during it’s struggles with deciding who should be invited to E3, the ESA trialled a new separate conference called The Entertainment for All Expo. It ran the two years that E3 was invite only and was then abandoned. It flopped basically.

There have been numerous other attempts to replicate E3’s success around the world. In 1996 a Japanese version of E3 was held, but Sony pulled out in favor of running their own expo, Sega ditched, and Nintendo was left as the only one of the “big-three”. The Expo also flopped, and rumored events in Singapore and Canada were canceled. E3 is something that can’t be replicated because it is unique and iconic.

E3 2011 will be the 17th annual expo to be held, and boy have things come a long way since then. E3 begun in 1995 when the “big-three” were Nintendo, Sega and Sony. In 2011 the “big-three” are Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony – with Sega owned by Nintendo. In 1995 Sony entered the industry with its Playstation, Sega revealed its Saturn and Nintendo revealed the Virtual Boy – yeah that. Now in 2011 we have the 3DS to do what the Virtual Boy never could. We have the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, the PSP and more consoles on the way such as the NGP and Project Café. E3 2011 is where gaming history will be made yet again. Where the world of gaming will change… because Nintendo will once again change the game! Count on that.

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