Los Angeles (CA) – E for All was held over the weekend. What? You didn’t know? Apparently you weren’t the only one, as we attended the nearly empty gaming expo on Friday. Most of the major gaming companies skipped the show and the exhibitors that were left were a pretty sad bunch. Heck, the best booth of the show was Fusion-IO with its mechanical bull (dressed up as a hard drive), and they aren’t even a gaming company!
But being empty has its advantages. It’s easy to find parking, easy to buy expensive convention food and easy to work around the exhibit hall – all of this is unheard of for the normally very busy Los Angeles Convention Center. The wide open space and lack of attendees had us zipping around the entire floor in approximately 3 minutes.
Last year, we called E for All a “ghost town” and it seems some of our friends at other publications think the same thing. Chris Kohler at Wired wrote last week that the company would not send any reporters to the show. “Last year’s E For All was a near-total ghost town,” Kohler wrote and with all the upcoming game shows like Blizzcon and the Tokyo Game Show, he added, “it’s impossible to justify sending a writer to Los Angeles”.
The press room was also empty. Just like last year, the Internet was amazingly fast, but that’s probably because no one was using it.
Most of the major gaming companies skipped E for All. Nintendo and Sony didn’t show up. Studios like THQ and Take-Two also bowed out. Interestingly enough, Nintendo had enough faith in the convention last year to be the main exhibitor.
E for All started on Friday and lasted until Sunday late afternoon and to be absolutely blunt, Friday was a disaster. I truly feel sorry for all the exhibitors as there was no foot traffic. In fact, several of the exhibitors – all of whom requested to be anonymous – told me that they were extremely disappointed in the show. “We won’t be here next year. This was a waste of money,” one PR rep told me.
To be fair, attendance perked up on the weekend because Intel held its gaming competition, “Intel Extreme Masters” finals. The mostly teenage and young 20-year-olds crowd cheered on fellow gamers as they battled it out for prizes. For me, watching other people play games is pretty boring, but one World of Warcraft player seemed to gain instant Internet fame after cursing out a friend during a competition match – warning the clip contains vulgarity… lot’s of vulgarity.
IDG, which runs E for All Expo, says the show was a success. It has released a statement saying that 15000 people attended the show. ”We want to thank everyone who participated in E for All 2008 and helped make it such a success,” said Mary Dolaher, Chief Executive Officer of IDG World Expo.
While I am sympathetic to all the hell organizers go through, perhaps they could learn a few things from the PAX or Blizzcon shows. Speaking of Blizzcon, we’ll be giving you on the ground coverage of that show starting this Friday.