In its early days, E3 was traditionally a closed event – offering exclusive access to members of the video game industry and the media. However, since the expo was restructured in 2008, exhibitors have been pushing the ESA – the event’s organizer – to open up the event to the expo. In 2011, the ESA dropped so-called “expo passes” costing between $400 and $500 – depending on date of purchase. One year later, these prices had nearly doubled to $795 and $995. Even though the event has technically been open to fans for a while, pass holders were only allowed on to the show floor – missing out on the legendary press conferences that one would expect to attend for that amount of money.
Word-of-mouth experiences beat large press conferences.
A few years later, the ESA changed its tune again when it distributed 5,000 tickets to exhibitors to hand out to their consumers – marking the first time outsides were allowed into the conferences. Only one year later, tactics had changed again by featuring a separate – yet free = “E3 Live” event nearby the convention center. This space was open to anyone and was structured as a small-scale version of E3 2016. The event drew about 20,000 people but exhibitors still wanted fans and gamers alike on the show floor in order to create an open dialogue with their target audience.
In 2017, the ESA is taking yet another approach. While there will be no free event this time around, 15,000 fans will be able to buy reasonably-priced tickets to the convention and the press conferences. Early bird tickets (first batch of 1,000) go on sale Monday, February 13 at 9am PT/12pm ET for “only” $150. As tickets sell out – and they will, fast – prices are expected to jump to about $250. The extent of access this pass buys you is still vague: while we don’t expect access to major press events, you’re likely allowed to attend panel discussions and the like on the convention floor.
Since the ESA has changed their approach to general access multiple times, it’s likely this is just a try-out and E3 2018 will see another way interaction with fans. If you want to attend the con this year, though, you’ll want to be quick.
Check out E3’s official website tomorrow to get your hands on those coveted tickets!