August 1, 2006 4:00 AM PDT
Why E3's shifting to a smaller playing field
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And he added that trade show costs have been going up across the board even as the technology industry is still recovering from the dot-com bust. Still, he stressed that any downturn in the technology industry's trade show business is "modest."
"It's not doom and gloom," Schuldenfrei said.
"Expo" magazine editor Danica Tormohlen said that she's seen the beginnings of a trend toward smaller meetings, where movers and shakers are able to meet in more personalized settings.
"There has definitely been, in the last couple of years, more targeted personalized meetings," Tormohlen said, "either separate from the trade show or in conjunction with the trade show."
But she also said she doubts the era of the giant technology trade show is over, even for E3.
"There's still plenty of big shows," Tormohlen said, "and I don't think we're going to move away from that completely. And I wouldn't be surprised if E3 had some kind of trade show component that still had hype surrounding it."
Some major E3 exhibitors are already responding to the news.
"For the past 12 years, (SCEA) has participated in (E3) and has used it as an opportunity to communicate to the industry and consumers our vision for gaming and entertainment," said Sony Computer Entertainment of America spokesman Ryan Bowling. "As an ESA member, we support the board's decision to pursue other types of events that can better address the needs of our industry and further its growth."
Unfortunately, SCEA's Bowling said the company no longer has plans for its famous, annual E3 party, perhaps the biggest and glitziest of all E3-related events.
Industry experts agree that for the most part, it's a changing market, not red ink, behind much of the downsizing. Steve Hacker, president of the International Association for Exhibition Management, said the technology industry's trade shows, as a whole, have done "exceedingly" well for at least the last two years.
"Technology industry events are not going away, they are evolving," said Hacker. "Exhibitors may say, 'Costs are going up, but it's still a good return on our investment.' When they stop saying that, we've got a problem."
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