E3 2008 has come and gone. This year’s show had a few surprises and big announcements, yet the mood in the industry lacks the excitement it had from the shows of 2006 and earlier. This lack of enthusiasm may be having a negative effect on the public’s interest and awareness. From what I can tell, several higher ups at various companies have expressed a growing concern about what this means for the industry as a whole. Recently, Ryan Kim of the San Francisco Chronicle did some poking around and what he found suggests that E3 may change yet again next year.

John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts, showed his displeasure stating, “I hate E3 like this. Either we need to go back to the old E3, or we’ll have to have our own private events.”

Others echoed Riccitiello’s complaints including Laurent Detoc, president of Ubisoft North America, who had this to say on the matter, “E3 this year is terrible. The world used to come to E3. Now it’s like a pipe-fitters show in the basement.”

Does this mean we’ll see E3 restored to its former glory in 2009? While we can’t say for sure, I for one, certainly hope so. A trip to E3 used to be an epic event, something I would look forward to for months beforehand. Sure, it was crowded and could be difficult to get some good, hands-on time with a game, but it was above all else, fun. Fun, a key ingredient that has been noticeably lacking from the show in recent years, but one that is essential to any video game. Games are flashy, extravagant and lavish works of art that have spawned their own culture and legions of fans who are loyal to the core. Shouldn’t an expo about video games also be lavish and extravagant?

I very much miss the towering booth displays, the pulsing lights, the loud music, the barely-clothed women and being surrounded by thousands of gamers who were ecstatic to be there. I miss getting sloppy drunk at upscale, company parties where women walked around bringing drinks, snacks and ice cream to the attendees standing around television displays showing off the best upcoming titles, even when it was perfectly obvious that they had already had just a bit too much.

So I say bring it all back. Give the public the spectacle that’s impossible to ignore. Ditch this forgettable, closet whispering format before the show is gone for good. Put on by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the show is losing participants and companies are opting out of the ESA and hosting their own events. Big names like Activision, Blizzard and LucasArts are just some of the companies who have already withdrawn and from the sounds of it, others aren’t far behind.

Nothing is certain as of right now, but ESA president Mike Gallagher has taken notice. In an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle he mentioned that E3 will likely be a bigger show next year stating, “We just need to decide where the dial needs to go.”

You can view the full article from The San Francisco Chronicle right here.

By Ryan Schaefer – 07/19/08

Screenshots for E3 2008: A Return To Form For E3?