In 2006, the Entertainment Software Association deemed the Electronic Entertainment Expo to be too big a spectacle, with publishers blowing millions of dollars on Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) booths to impress the more than 60,000 attendees. For 2007, the show moved to Santa Monica, was pushed back to July from its traditional May slot, and shrunk the attendee pool to an invite-only list about one-tenth the size of the previous year.
That experiment appears to have failed. This year's E3 Media & Business Summit returned the show to the LACC, and today it was revealed that next year's show will further undo the 2007 changes made to the show. However, details for E3 2009 are unclear, thanks to conflicting reports.
As reported by cable network G4's X-Play show, "The old E3 is making a comeback." Set for Tuesday, June 2 through Thursday, June 4, E3 2009 will again be held at the LACC, but this time the venue will play host to "tens of thousands" of attendees instead of the 5,000 or so who went to the invite-only events of 2007 and 2008. The event will be open to a broader range of guests, but X-Play emphasized that it still won't be open to the public.
Contradicting that report is an account from Newsweek's N'Gai Croal, who cites "inside sources" familiar with the show. Croal claims that E3 2009 will be limited to media and industry attendees from Tuesday through Thursday, after which the show will open to the public for Friday and Saturday. Although opening to the public could spur massive growth in attendee figures, Croal's source says that the ESA is going to cap attendance at 40,000. It's unclear if that 40,000 figure is per day or for the entire show.
An ESA representative would confirm nothing for GameSpot, saying only, "We'll make an announcement at an appropriate time." According to X-Play, the ESA plans to release details of its E3 2009 plans tomorrow.
For more on E3, check out GameSpot's complete coverage of the 2008 show.