What The Electronic Entertainment Expo E3 Can Teach Us

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Every year in June, game development studios from all over the world gather for an event known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It’s one of the largest conferences of its kind, and people from all over the world tune in every year to watch and listen for the latest and greatest innovations and developments in video games. Suffice it to say, a savvy event manager can learn a great deal from such a successful conference.

Here are a few insights I’ve picked up by watching the annual show:

The Wrong Speaker Can Ruin A Killer Presentation

The Xbox One actually had some pretty interesting features when it was first announced. Unfortunately, Microsoft chose Don Mattrick to represent their brand’s new product launch. The press considered his presentation an unmitigated disaster, particularly when competitor Sony chose Jack Tretton as their representative. Compared to Tretton, Mattrick fell terribly short, and this critic of his performance overshadowed the key announcements Microsoft wanted users and press to focus on.

Hint: a charismatic speaker can carry a weak topic, but it doesn’t work the other way around, a killer topic can’t save a poor performance.

Sometimes Protective Measures Aren’t Enough

Ridiculous Fishing developer Vlambeer suffered a rather devastating theft during 2013’s expo – pretty much everything that comprised their organization was stolen at the show. Security felt that Ridiculous Fishing, the photography room, and several other vendors were targeted. Some may question if Electronic Software Association security staff followed proper procedure, but as far as one can tell it does seem that proper measures were taken to secure the event.

Here’s the lesson: even with adequate security and prevention measures, things go wrong. ESA security respond immediately keeping the situation from escalating by checking photo IDs and event badges. 

Dominate Your Niche

E3 is the reigning king of the video game conference space. They’ve been around the longest, entering a space where there was next to no competition. Furthermore, they choose to be exclusive to industry insiders only. They quickly became the premiere destination for industry personalities; even with the advent of events like the Penny Arcade Expo, E3 still stands out from the crowd.

If you’re running an industry conference, think around your competition. What aren’t they doing, and how might you take advantage of that? Stand out.

Market It And They Will Come

E3 may have it made: the event is so popular among the gaming press that the event gets a ton of free publicity year after year. You’re probably not going to be so lucky; most event planners must work a bit harder to gain any initial attention for an event. However, should you pull the right strings (and talk to the right people), you’ll gain the exposure you need to secure attendance at your event.

Raising public awareness is a vital step in the event planning process. Then you must execute perfectly. Your second year will be an easier sell if the inaugural event is a big hit.

Brand Opinion Is Directly Tied To Attendance

When the controversial Stop Online Privacy Act was first proposed, The Entertainment Software Association – the group behind E3 – was one of its many supporters, heedless of what the bill meant for consumer freedom. After a plethora of developers and fans cried foul and threatened to withdraw their attendance at E3 2012.

E3 understood that how they composed themselves as a brand would directly impact the attendance of their E3 conference. They weighed the risk and determined to withdraw their support of the act.

We discovered several interesting lessons over years of following E3.Plan ahead for E3 2015.