Next-Gen spoke with IDG World Expo executive VP Mary Dolaher, who said that the upcoming consumer gaming event that she is spearheading will be more beneficial for game companies than the E3 of old.
The thought of a massive gaming event held at the L.A. Convention Center certainly makes some game companies cringe. After all, it’s only been a few months since the Entertainment Software Association canned the traditional E3 because major publishers realized the expensive event made less and less business sense.
But Dolaher has something else in mind. She has plenty of large-scale gaming event management experience as she headed up the organization of past E3s as VP of the Entertainment Software Association. Unlike E3, IDG’s yet-to-be-named event will be consumer-focused as opposed to business-focused. As such, she insisted that the newly announced event, taking place October 18-20, 2007, would make much more business sense for game companies.
"First and foremost, I think [a new large-scale gaming event] would scare anyone. But we’re not trying to recreate E3," she said. "…A consumer show would never be put on the same way that E3 was held. A company wouldn’t spend $10 million on a booth to have consumers there. They do that for the trade and the media. So, this is going to be very different–a different look and a different feel."
As we’ve established, the main issue that publishers have with such a large event is return on investment. Will the event actually create a worthwhile relationship with consumers or act as a money sinkhole? "We haven’t sat down and gone over [how much this will cost publishers compared to E3]," said Dolaher, who just recently came off of the ESA’s payroll.
However, she reiterated that one big expense, the cost of companies’ booths, would decrease dramatically compared to E3. " As far as when you look at the cost of an E3 booth, I only know numbers that I hear people talk about because of confidentiality. … But if you’ve been to MacWorld or DigitalLife, [IDG’s show will be] something more like that. The design of the booths that [companies] already have are modular, so they can just bring those in and set them up."
Being a consumer-based event, Dolaher expects that gamers will have to pay around $100 for full access to the three-day expo. In addition, she said that game companies will be able to offer their final products for attendees to purchase right off the show floor. Dolaher added that because of the October dating of the event, it will act as "a magnet for the industry to build up momentum going into the fourth quarter and the holiday purchasing [season]."
Dolaher acknowledged that even with said cost reductions, game companies may still be stand-offish about the concept of a new gaming event. "I want it to be a great event, but I don’t want it to be cost-prohibitive for anyone," she said. "And you know, there are [companies] that will come, and some that won’t. The difference with IDG is that we don’t have 24 members that are with the ESA, and I hope that we’ll have some of them there. If we don’t, there’s another 475 that were at E3 that have marketing dollars to spend, so we’ll go after them."
There are still skeptics out there about whether or not IDG’s new show will be a success, but a confident Dolaher is too busy to pay much attention to detractors. "I would say that those skeptics are probably the same people that told me that E3 was for the ‘ponytail crowd’ and it would never make any money, and the industry was never going to mature. … I don’t let it bother me."