The Entertainment Software Association is well on its way toward scaling back up its annual game-industry confab, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The industry trade group said today that it has parceled out 90 percent of its exhibitor space and is on track to hit its attendance goal of 40,000 individuals. The 2009 event is scheduled to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 2-4.
The ESA's new E3 format is in many ways a return to the glitzy events last seen in 2006, before it was substantially downsized from approximately 60,000 attendees to just 5,000 in 2007. According to event organizers, the 2009 show will offer both increased exposure due to the lifting of attendance caps and expanded booth sizes. The ESA also said that it has expanded exhibitor invites to "broader technological circles."
Thus far, the format appears to be gaining the support of the third-party publishing community. "The E3 Expo is bigger and better this year and for EA, the expanded format means we'll have more demos, announcements, promotions and blockbuster games than ever before," commented EA's VP of corporate communications, Jeff Brown. Following E3 2008, EA CEO John Riccitiello bemoaned the show's scope, saying that unless E3 returned to its former state, the publisher would abandon the conference altogether.
THQ VP of publishing Scott Guthrie shared Brown's sentiments, saying as part of the ESA's announcement today, "It is very exciting for the videogame industry to once again have a global platform from which to report on the trends, innovations and exciting new games that are fueling the growth of our market."
Thanks in large part to skyrocketing membership dues that rose 1,600 percent over the past two years, the ESA saw a number of high-profile departures in 2008. However, several notable defectors, including Activision Blizzard and LucasArts, have announced that they will again exhibit at the show. The ESA has also acquired new members in recent weeks, with X-Blades publisher SouthPeak Interactive and Harvest Moon house Natsume both joining the representative body's ranks.