“Big E3″ Official

"Big E3" Official

The circus is officially back on the calendar.

The Entertainment Software Association on Wednesday confirmed reports earlier this week that the shriveled E3 of the last two years would once again be expanded to include an increased number of attendees.

Earlier reports suggested that the event would be open to the public, but as of now, the ESA said E3 2009, taking place June 2-4 at L.A. Convention Center, would "welcome all qualified computer and videogame industry audiences, including international and U.S.-based media, analysts, retailers, developers and business partners…"

The event will also be open to both ESA members and non-members.

Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc and Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello were two of the highest-profile critics of E3 2008. The ESA made sure to include their raves about the new format in today’s press release.

"The videogame business will be twice as big in 2009 as it was in 2006 when we had the last real E3 Expo – so get ready for some fireworks!" said Detoc, who said E3 2008 was "terrible."

"The changes made will ensure that the 2009 E3 Expo conveys the best of what makes us proud as entertainment leaders."

Riccitiello added, "The E3 Expo will be the pre-eminent North American gaming show next year. The new, larger event is better for industry leaders and for serious gamers." His seal of approval is a far cry from his comment of "hating" E3 2008.

The ESA said that it came to the decision to bring back the large-scale E3 after "conducting both qualitative and quantitative research."

Changes expected at E3 2009 from last year include bigger booths and increased "qualified" audiences.

E3 2006 was the last time the event was the huge media circus loved and hated by journos and game companies. When the cost to make a splash at the event got too high, particularly with extravagant booths and other expenses, publishers became critical of the event.

But after E3 2008, game execs seemed to have changed their tune, saying that a small E3 had lost its relevance, and a large event that attracts mass market attention was needed for the industry.

IDG World Expo, whose CEO was formerly the ESA’s E3 director Mary Dolaher, will produce the event with the ESA.

IDG World Expo is also in charge of the consumer-focused upstart games event, E for All.