E3 06: E3 Expo tweaks Day One hours, access

Opening bell next year will see media and retailers given head start on show floor.

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The usual opening-bell frenzy at the annual Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) will be a bit tamer this year. Show organizers said this week they will reserve the opening two hours of E3's first day to preregistered media and retailers only.

While it's not clear what impact the restrictions will have on the usual crush of people who pile into West and South Halls at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the goal seems rooted in an attempt to give the show's primary attendees more hands-on time at kiosks and easier access to special video presentations.

According to E3 Expo organizers, the show floor will be open to those two select groups from 9-11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 10. Beginning at 11 a.m., all registered attendees will have access to the show floor. In previous years, the show floor has opened at 10 a.m. on opening day.

In another twist to access, show organizers are introducing incentives for members of the press to attend the E3 Conference Program. Media who preregister for the show can purchase a Pick Six pass for the conference program for $120. Pass holders can then attend any six sessions from among the full lineup of 34. Also new this year is a policy that will see a block of 20 seats per session reserved for press only.

The conference program is composed of panel discussions, presentations, and lectures, and runs from May 9 through May 11. Last year's program included exclusive presentations of The Godfather, Call of Duty 2, and King Kong. Top creative and corporate talent from the game industry participate as well. Past participants have included Hideo Kojima, Shigeru Miyamoto, and John Carmack.

Media can begin the preregistration process when E3 Expo opens the gates to the upcoming event on its Web site this coming Thursday. Preregistration will be available to the media only through April 13. E3 2006 runs from May 10 through May 12.

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