What The Electronic Entertainment Expo Can Teach Us About Event Management

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 pieces of insight I’ve picked up by watching the annual show:

Even The Right Topic Can Be Bust With The Wrong Speaker

The Xbox One actually had some pretty interesting features when it was first announced. Unfortunately, Microsoft chose Don Mattrick to represent their brand. It was an unmitigated disaster, particularly when competitor Sony chose Jack Tretton as their representative. Compared to Tretton, the uncharismatic Mattrick seemed like one of the worst guest speakers in the history of E3.

This example shows that even if you’ve got the right content, a poor performance by your speaker can still mean disaster. 

Sometimes Protective Measures Aren’t Enough

Ridiculous Fishing developer Vlambeer suffered a rather devastating theft at last year’s expo – pretty much everything that comprised their organization was stolen by a roving thief, who security explained had already targeted the photography room along with several other vendors. It’s not clear if the Electronic Software Association security staff followed proper procedure, but as near as I can tell, they did everything in their power to keep the event secure.

There’s the lesson: even with adequate security and prevention, there’s still the off chance that something’s going to go wrong. Be prepared to respond immediately if something does go wrong. That the ESA reacted so quickly and had their staff start checking photo IDs is fortunate, otherwise things could have gotten considerably worse. 

Dominate Your Niche

The main reason E3 is the reigning king of the video game conference space is because they have been around the longest. They were one of the first, entering into a market where there was next to no competition. What this meant was that 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 thinking of running an event or conference in support of your brand, check your competition first. Figure out what they aren’t doing, and how you might take advantage of that to make your own event stand out. In short, step up or step out. 

If You Market It, They Will Come

The folks behind E3 sort of have it made: the event is so popular among the gaming press that they basically get a whole pile of free publicity every year. You’re probably not going to be so lucky; you’ll likely have to work a bit harder in order to gain attention for your 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.

Either way, raising public awareness is a vital step in the event planning process.

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, The ESA wisely withdrew their support. They knew that how they composed themselves and presented their brand directly impacted who was interested in attending E3, regardless of its obvious importance to the industry.