The new and allegedly improved E3 Media & Business Summit has officially kicked off, with an outdoor reception at Santa Monica's Fairmont Hotel.
A far smaller event than last year's E3, the new summit will play host to around 4,000 people, as opposed to the 60,0000-plus crowds E3 has seen in previous years. Instead of the LA Convention Center, exhibits and meetings are spread out over a series of beach-front hotels in sunny Santa Monica (which certainly seems like an improvement).
But if you thought that would make this a more relaxed, informal gathering of interactive entertainment professionals, you'd be wrong. Besides the rigorous invite-only vetting process for participants (complete with unique registration codes), the new E3 attendee badges have received a Homeland Security-inspired upgrade.
To get an attendee badge, you now have line up, DMV-style, in front of a camera and get a photo snapped, which is then printed directly onto the oversized badge required for entry to all E3 events. Mandatory mugshots aside, the mood of the crowd was mixed at best, prompting Entertainment Software Association head Michael Gallagher in his opening remarks to ask attendees to give the new format a chance.