For the first time in over a decade, E3 had around 16,200 more people attend than the average expo. The best year the Electronic Entertainment Expo would have since 2007 was thanks in no small part to the general admission passes, of which it can be speculated a solid amount of growth was seen. While E3 grew physically, the con itself, developers and just about everything else didn't and made this year absolute hell for the little guy in media. Here's a laundry list of problems that we at GameTyrant experienced this year, that were not an issue last year.
Late To Meetings
Being late to a business meeting inevitably happens at E3. Last year there was a bit of hold up on some of our business meetings due to location, poor planning, etc...and I own that, but this wasn't the case this year. As smaller media, we were often denied entry at the beginning of the day by floor staff and instead forced to enter into the floor/halls in a large line with the rest of the general public. At times this led us to arrivals anywhere between 10-20 minutes late for scheduled meetings we had arranged with developers who already have a full schedule of other people they need to serve. In addition to looking incredibly unprofessional with the developers who were kind enough to set aside time for us, we also potentially screwed up someone else's appointment as now everyone was pushed back to accommodate us.
Bottom line...media needs priority into the halls specifically because we are there to work. Putting my access on the same level as Joe Schmoe only inhibits my ability to do my job, and further increases the gap in coverage that our site covered for E3 2017 versus some of the bigger guys who didn't experience this problem. E3 is our one shot a year to reach out and make solid connections with larger developers who don't typically grant us face time, and we may have gotten a bad look this year from a couple specifically due to this issue.
General Public Wandering Freely Into Meetings
There was absolutely no reason members of the general public should have been wandering the Concourse Hall and private media rooms. For starters, it's just a bunch of cubicles and closed doors with zero pageantry or game demos on display for anyone to try out. The purpose of the Concourse Hall is to serve as an additional outlet for game developers to offer a quieter experience with media to play their games, conduct interviews, or anything else that falls under the brand of media for an outlet.
So when a kid with a green badge opens the door on a meeting I have and pokes his head in to ask what's going on in here, that's a problem. It wasn't isolated incidents either, there were lots of general public badges openly roaming the concourse halls partly out of confusion because it's their first year and they have no idea what it is, but mostly because no one at E3 thought to block their access to it. How did no one think to set some guidelines for these guys prior to entry?
Lines Were Outrageously Long And Some Devs Weren't Prepared For It
You'll notice we didn't have any Ubisoft coverage on our site this year, and there's a good reason for it. With a limited amount of televisions and a plethora of games to showcase, Ubisoft offered little avenue for those without media appointments (which we requested a couple months back and never received approval or rejection for) to play any of the games they showcased at E3.
Something that's important to note when you're at E3 is that most demos of games range from about 10-30 minutes in length, so even if you're 10th in line to play a game you could be looking at a couple hour wait to play one game on a show floor that is only open eight hours max on a long day. Almost instantly every day with Ubisoft the queues were locked up to 3-hour minimum waits. Put simply, we can't sacrifice that much time on a single game and still give you the amount of coverage you enjoyed these past couple days. When asked by Ubisoft if there was anything they could do to accomadate the situation so that we could at least feature one of their games this year...I was met with a shrug and someone not at all concerned about whether I cover their games or not. That's hurtful to me, who gets numerous press releases from these guys weekly and knows them by their names because they're in my inbox that often, but when the shoe flips there's nothing that can be done for me.
Conversely there were numerous reps at companies like SEGA and Square Enix that bent over backwards to make sure their games were seen, and I can't express how much I loved them for it. Our SEGA rep, who due to some confusion, accidentally got us into our demo of Total War Arena a little late, more than made up for it later the next day by hooking us up with some hands-on time with both new Sonic games. We completely understood the initial screw up obviously but that little extra nudge to rectify the situation really left a lasting impression on all of us and certainly makes me love them even more than I have in the past.
Square Enix had a "media priority" line which featured a media only queue for floor demos of games, and quite frankly, it's stupid no one else did. I'm not sure if some of these developers didn't think many people would buy up general admission badges or what, but Square Enix saw the importance in making sure influencers in media got to play their games as opposed to Randall from Sacremento with 75 friends on Facebook. That sounds like a diss to the general public again, but it's really not, if you were at E3 to play games and not media, it wasn't your job to inform the public of your opinion. For me, that was solely why I was there. Line waiting is nothing new at E3...but when you add nearly 20k extra people to the mix and make zero changes from the prior year...you can bet your ass some people wandered the floor for a couple hours without playing a single game.
Those are my biggest gripes about this year for E3, which in summary, I felt really crapped on the little guy. We're well aware we aren't IGN, Polygon, Eurogamer...but we are a hard working bunch of people who many in the gaming industry interact with daily. All I'm asking for with E3 2018 next year is a little more respect, and some loosened parameters so I don't feel my only perk in attending was not paying the insane amount the public shelled out.