Pandora’s Box: Thoughts On The E3 Crowds & Where To Go From Here

By now you’ve probably read a dozen different reports about the clutter that was E3’s crowded floors. I’m not here to simply join in on complaining, I’m just here to offer my personal viewpoint as both a previous and current press attendee, along with some clear and objective thoughts. So if you’re looking for convention bashing, you came to the wrong post.

The paying attendees line up Thursday morning.

For those of you not aware, E3 opened their doors to the public for the first time ever this year. If you were going to be in Los Angeles for the event and were willing to pay the ticket price, you could go through the exact same displays and giant setups that we do as media. So this was also the first time in the convention’s 22 year history that the media had to fight their way through the halls and showroom floors to get where they needed to go against a tsunami of lines and crowded areas full of gawking eyeballs.

While it isn’t specifically marketed as such, E3 is basically a trade show for video games. The media spend two months booking appointments for those three days, show up in LA, run like crazy to talk/film/play everything they can, get it posted online hoping to be the first page you see said news and opinions on, then we sleep for two days straight in recovery and prepare to do it all again at PAX West or TGS or Gamescon. It’s a rush that is both awesome and tiring, but it usually helps everyone involved with getting the word out and establishing connections.

credit//Gavin Sheehan

I’ve been going on-and-off for the past decade or so when I could afford it or when I absolutely needed to be there because there was something major coming. In the past, because it’s mostly media representatives, most everyone is pretty courteous and helpful and we don’t get in each other’s way because we all realize we have a job to do. Even when the convention started inviting YouTube and Twitch celebrities to come out, that group still has a sense of professionalism and try not to mess with anyone who is working as media. In fact, we usually all get along. The people who don’t realize this are the general public.

This is the first year in all the years I’ve attended that I actually missed meetings due to overcrowding. The Capcom area often became a source for holdups because it was just crowds of people staring at the monitors looking at Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite trailers they already saw online, and there was no way to get through them. I watched a German reporter scream as loud as she could for people to move, and they absolutely refused. I saw a man point the finger of death at me and a couple Twitch people who were getting to go into the press area for Bandai Namco as if we stole his wallet. The public, in general, doesn’t get what the show was originally designed to do and did not care about anything besides their own agenda. In large, they ignored a lot of what was around them until they got to whatever game they waited in line to play.

credit//Gavin Sheehan

On Thursday, just before the convention opened, E3 sent out a press release stating that they had 68,400 attendees who paid and marking the event as a major success. Not including the media, game designers, PR reps, volunteers, or content creators—more than likely they hit 100k people in the convention center and most likely made a decent amount of money from having the public attend. In short: Pandora’s Box has officially been opened and E3 will most likely run their 2018 event in roughly the same manner.

Now I understand why E3 did what they did. They took advantage of the idea that up until now it had been one of the most exclusive conventions in the country and opened the doors up to people who have dreamed of attending but never could. It was a license to print money by whoever was willing to pony up the cash to attend. If the event was a success for them, I say congratulations. They are one of the friendliest conventions toward media in the entire world and if they found success in letting the public in, I couldn’t be happier for a group of people who have always treated me and other’s I’ve worked with as well as possible.

credit//Gavin Sheehan

That being said, this cannot continue the way it did into next year. For their first time, it was rough going, and I’m sure they learned a lot of lessons along the way. But if E3 is going to continue letting in the general public, then they need a new gameplan that doesn’t affect the media the way it did most of us this week, and it needs to service the fans better so they don’t feel slighted by those of us who are working.

I propose that E3 expand their event to five days. Give the media three from Tuesday until Thursday, and then give the public Friday and Saturday for the maximum amount of exposure you can over a weekend. That way those of us coming to work can do our jobs right while giving all those involved with E3 a smoother startup rather than just cramming both groups together. Then once we’re gone, let the floodgates open for the public to sample everything they’ve read about the past few days so they know exactly what they want to see and where to find it. And by splitting the groups up, you give much more room on Friday and Saturday to sell more tickets.

I know it reads like a simple solution on paper, but last time I checked, E3 wasn’t officially booked at the LA Convention Center yet for 2018, which means they have time to change the dates and accommodate after learning their lessons this year. Adding two days has the potential to make them more money and make everyone happy after what I would call a mildly successful test-run. Here’s hoping!

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys standup comedy, Let's Play videos and trying new games, along with hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

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