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E3 Reflections

Scaled back would be putting it mildly. Compared to E3s of the past, this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in the Los Angeles Convention Center was like a ghost town. I've been attending for several years (though admittedly I missed last year when it nearly disappeared off the map altogether). Now that I've had a little time to digest the event from earlier in the week, I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, it was certainly more manageable from a logistics/organization standpoint, and I know our camera crew liked not having to negotiate (aka battle) thousands of distracted gamers and faux media wandering aimlessly on the show floor. We attended all our scheduled meetings and got as much on-camera content as we could hope for. I also ran into many old friends and contemporaries and in some ways it felt like "old home week." But it still seemed like something was missing.

It's hard to put my finger on, but it's almost like the show lacked heart. Or intensity or something. For a convention about video games it just felt a tad...corporate. Staid. Detached. Cold. I certainly acknowledge the raft of financial reasons that many major companies either toned it way down (Microsoft) or pulled out altogether (Activision). Bottom line: these firms simply weren't seeing any return on their investment, and E3 had turned into a giant -- and expensive -- excuse to party.

And I don't think the organizer, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), is fully to "blame" in any way; it's just that I think the formula for E3 still needs tweaking. Or not. I really don't know what the right answer is. Maybe it's a different venue. Maybe it's simply that this year was in a software cycle without any huge announcements for consoles or big titles. Maybe E3 just isn't relevant anymore. Or maybe the video game industry has simply grown too fractured and inflated for a united gathering. Whatever the diagnosis or the cure, I'm left with E3 echoes.