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

(Image credit: ESA)
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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 (opens in new tab)), 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 (opens in new tab) 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 is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.