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ESA confirms new E3 dates, growth

The video game industry's lobbying organization "announces" the new format for the show after published reports include all the details.

With E3's return to a large format, it appears certain that we will see huge booths like this one once again.
Daniel Terdiman/CNET News

As reported on Tuesday, the video game industry's official showcase event, E3, is getting its latest makeover.

On Tuesday, Newsweek first reported that the show, which in recent years had shrunk from its heyday as a mammoth event with a capital E to a smaller, invite-only confab, would be returning to its big, loud roots.

At the time, the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the industry, said it had no comment on the news and would make an announcement when "appropriate."

I suppose that Wednesday, just 24 hours later, was as appropriate a time as any to confirm the changes.

As expected, E3 will continue to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and the next edition will take place from June 2 through 4.

"After conducting both qualitative and quantitative research, ESA officials stated that changes were necessary to better meet the needs of both exhibitors and attendees," the organization wrote in a press release Wednesday. "These changes include increased booth sizes, increased qualified audiences, and an intensified focus on reinforcing the high-octane growth, innovation, and captivating entertainment that are driving the computer and video game industry."

In its piece Tuesday, Newsweek had said the show would be capped at 40,000 attendees but that it would be open to the general public.

The ESA's release did not make mention of limits on attendance but did indicate that the "public" that can attend will be "all qualified computer and video game industry audiences, including international and U.S.-based media, analysts, retailers, developers, and business partners."

It did not define "qualified," and a call for comment to the ESA was not immediately returned.

Still, it seems clear that the industry has decided that it wants to return to the massive booths, huge crowds, and exhausting energy of the pre-2007 E3. And you can be sure that the controversial, scantily clad "booth babes," the groups of young women hired by the publishers to promote their games, will be returning as well.

After a small and basically banal 2008 E3 that was largely irrelevant--at least for my reporting purposes--I have mixed feelings about E3's return to its former large format.

On the one hand, it will be nice to see more games, more people, and a sense that despite the current economic woes, at least one industry feels that it merits a large-scale trade show. On the other, the old version of E3 left me and most others exhausted, with extremely sore feet and a ringing in the ears.

Either way, it will be interesting to see if this time around, the industry is happy with what is has or whether, once again, it will decide it needs to change course.