E3 lives on as GamePro Expo

[UPDATE] Publishing and events powerhouse IDG will launch consumer game show next year in LA; ESA endorsement ensures visibility.

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Earlier this year, a collective sigh issued forth from the hundreds of thousands of gamers lamenting the general miniaturization of the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The event's owner, the Electronic Software Association (ESA), bowing to pressure from members who saw diminishing returns from the multimillion-dollar expenditure the show required of them, evolved the show into a more manageable and less-costly event.

In July, the ESA downsized E3 and renamed it the E3 Media and Business Summit. The near free-for-all that attracted 60,000 attendees would now be invitation-only and would no longer fill the cavernous halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Many in the game industry called it the end of an era, albeit a bloated era.

Well, the bloat is back--and it could be a good thing for gamers.

According to a memo circulated to a short list of LA Convention and Visitors Bureau members this week, International Data Group, publisher of dozens of tech magazines and producer of hundreds of trade shows around the world (including Macworld), will produce a new games show to be held in Los Angeles in mid-October 2007.

"IDG has been secured to run the new GamePro Expo show, what we knew as E3," the memo reads in part. While IDG owns and publishes GamePro magazine, it is not clear how IDG plans on leveraging the brand.

According to Michael Krouse, vice president of convention sales for the LA Convention and Visitors Bureau, IDG is estimating that the event will draw 30,000 attendees, and that long term, those numbers could grow. "I am absolutely convinced this show will be as big as [the old] E3," Krouse told GameSpot.

The new show will be endorsed by the ESA--"a very important element to the partnership," says the memo, which goes on to say the event will take place at E3's former digs, the Los Angeles Convention Center, on October 18, 19, and 20, 2007.

The event will have trade show, consumer, and game competition components and is being presented to Convention and Visitors Bureau members as a show that could rival the old E3 in size, scope, and impact on the Los Angeles economy: "Use E3 as a guide [when prepping for GamePro Expo]," the memo advises.

Referring to the game competition, Krouse said that Staples Center owner AEG is likely to partner with IDG, and, "in concept," the live tournaments would take place at the Staples Center.

The news is tangentially related to the departure of ESA exec Mary Dolaher who took a new post with IDG this week. Dolaher's staff, versed in the nuances of producing E3, moved en masse to IDG as well. Talk of publishers coming on board is already filling the rumor mill, though none have yet to announce a firm commitment to exhibit.

Confirmation of the IDG event today follows on the heels of the Consumer Electronics Association's announcement last month that it would not produce a game-oriented trade show in Los Angeles in 2007.

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