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E3 2020 could have 'paid media partnerships' and more celebrities

(Image credit: ESA)

The ESA, the trade association that organises E3, is already planning for next year's event, which may involve more celebrities, arrangements with influencers and "paid media partnerships". ESA members have also approved a further 10,000 tickets for consumers, bumping the number up to 25,000. 

E3 used to be an industry event, but in recent years it opened its doors to the public. In a leaked pitch presentation (cheers, GameDaily), the ESA has proposed more of a consumer focus, including attractions such as basketball players participating in a tournament to market a game. 

The only thing anyone remembers about this year's E3 is Keanu Reeves (and maybe the Punisher's dog), so it's not surprising that the ESA wants to add more star power. I don't think anyone's going to be able to beat the impact Cyberpunk 2077's celebrity reveal had, though. 

The ESA has also proposed using influencers more, specifically to promote E3 beyond places that usually cover videogames. It also suggests offering influencers the chance to plug some charities or raise awareness instead of financial compensation. By aligning itself with social issues, says the ESA, it can "advance the industry's brand" and "store positive chits for future use" so it's in a better position to handle the next videogame scandal or negative article.  

Another potential deal does involve some cash. The ESA wants to pay media to extend E3's reach while still allowing the organisation to "control content and the message." The paid media partnership concept has already been put to the test, apparently. Tech Impact, a CNBC show, was built and distributed by the ESA, it says, though GameDaily spotted that the episodes don't make any mention of the ESA's involvement or that they're sponsored videos. 

It was only last month that the ESA leaked information about 2,000 members of the industry thanks to a "website vulnerability" along with media contact lists from 2004 and 2006. Addresses, phone numbers and other details were made available to anyone who wanted to harass a journalist or stalk an influencer. E3's also not in great shape. EA, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Activision—they've all reduced their presence, some to the point of barely being at E3 at all.

This all seems like a very desperate bid to rescue E3 from irrelevancy, and one that could be doomed to fail. The ESA's own members don't seem to want it, and they've already said they won't pay for celebrity appearances—there will still be a programme to invite them—and declined some other consumer-focused proposals. And it's not surprising, given that publishers already have much larger consumer events, like Gamescom, and a multitude of other ways to reach players.

Fraser Brown
Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.