Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Retail & E3 and its irrelevance to me

People are talking a lot about the downsizing of E3. I just read a report that suggested that the 'smaller' developers will suffer most, because they won't get the press attention that they used to get from E3.

I went to ECTS a few times, once purely for business, to meet some retail publishers. I had arranged meetings, which lasted about 2 minutes each. Nothing I said couldn't have been said by email, where we would both have had a written record of it. In the end, nothing at all came out of those meetings. I guess it satisfied some sales executive's primitive urge to press flesh.

I've worked for big devs who send teams of people to E3 to schmooze with the press and 'promote the game'. This promotion is usually carried out whilst drunk, jetlagged, bombarded with loud music and people shouting. In short, it's carried out in the most ineffective setup to promote the product as you could imagine.

So whats the alternative? I guess it's getting demo and preview copies of games to journalists on your own terms, when they are ready. No doubt the big names will still refuse to send playable preview discs, so they will want to watch over the journalists shoulders to ensure they dont see any of the buggy bits, but I can live with that. It means that rather than assuming every game in development is shown at E3, magazine editors and website editors may be more interested in developers like me contacting them throughout the year.

A big booth with lasers and cheerleaders can drown out the awkward looking english guy hawking his wares on a laptop at E3, but its much harder to drown out that guy when he doesnt have to stand right next to you at a trade show.
I think this is good news for smaller developers.

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