The state of relevance of E3 has been in question for several years now. Their attempt at an "open-door" entrance policy failed and it seems that now they've abandoned it and have gone completely in the other direction with admittance as of late. Major developers and publishers have strayed from announcing market-changing products at the show, opting to announce them at conventions like GDC, Tokyo Game Show or even at their own, separate conferences. Now, aside from the Entertainment Software Association, the group in charge of putting on E3 every year, fighting illegal game distribution and maintaining their stance with Congress on the current game restriction laws that are in place, the actual gaming and entertainment expo doesn't seem to be as interesting to game studios and media outlets anymore.
The ESA seems to disagree.
Regardless of the facts that games are becoming more mainstream and social, companies have found easier (and cheaper) ways to get their message out to customers and the fact that publications have direct ties into those same studios that attend E3, the ESA stands behind E3 as the only way of tapping into the gaming market.
The ESA's SVP Rich Taylor said in an interview that,
I disagree with broad declarations that a show which hasn't occurred yet is irrelevant. Folks haven't even seen what's going to take place. The fact that Zynga and GREE are going to be there is reflective of a show that is very much relevant. These firms are talking specifically about mobile and social.
Does anyone think of the word "relevant" when it comes to gaming studios and the first company they come up with is Zynga? How about GREE? Nobody? Oh. By no means am I trying to take away from anything those respective companies have done for social and mobile gaming, which has taken off astronomically in the past two years, but those social games are derived from the same place they spread the news about the games from: social media and networking. E3 can certainly be a notch on the belt for the companies who finally get to attend, however I don't foresee their sales exponentially growing because of their presence at the event. For Zynga, it's more like "Hey, we bought OMGPOP for $200 million, and oh yeah, we're going to be at E3 this year, too. However we won't be conducting interviews with the media and we only have a meeting room, so, yeah."
What happens in LA will be heard around the globe and echo around for the months to follow. If E3 was losing relevancy we'd be having a fire sale on exhibit space, but it is the opposite, we are packed to the gills. I think it's going to be one of the strongest shows we've had in a long time.
E3 has turned into more of a requirement in order to stay competitive and not be looked at like lesser of a studio who can't afford to be there. It's also a great way to be able to talk to the parties that are interested in your products on a professional level because they will all be in one place at the same time. I'm not saying E3 is completely obsolete yet, but these studios aren't going to all of a sudden walk up a leave all at once either. So E3 is here to stay, be it in its slim instances of glory or with the occasional disappointment due to high expectations. At some point, they'll have to start either allowing a more diverse group of vendors, attendees and media in order to maintain the relevancy category or everyone can and will travel overseas to cover the news, as it happens.