This year's Electronic Entertainment Expo is taking a giant step towards returning to the glitzy, people-packed shows of three years ago, with attendance expected to be about ten times last year's show and the exhibit halls nearly the same size as the shows that once included ear-splitting rock bands, fire juggling and bikini-clad models.
E3 2009 will also see the return of a more relaxed registration policy for show-goers and rules that once more allow models on the expo floor.
The return to the size and glamor of earlier E3s comes after two years of downsizing and falling attendance at the show that once drew 70,000 people to Los Angeles to revel in all things video game.
In 2006, the Entertainment Software Association announced they would be downsizing the show and moving it to Santa Monica. In 2007, the show returned to the Los Angeles Convention Center, but remained a shadow of its former self. Several developers decided to not attend last year's show, including Activision, Atlus, NCsoft and Vivendi Games.
This year's list of attendees shows that all but NCsoft are returning to the show.
"The 2009 E3 Expo will be the preeminent North American computer and video game event," said Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the ESA. "With robust exhibitor sales, high attendee interest, and strong commitments from multiple industry sectors, we are going to ensure the full excitement and energy of this industry is on display."
Currently about 70 exhibitors are listed as attending the show, which is more than double the number at last year's. And event organizers say that the floor is filling up quickly.
"We encourage interested companies to contact us because floor sales are going quickly with more than half sold out," a spokesman told me.
Another major change to the show is the new registration policy which has been relaxed to allow more attendees to make it into the show. The last two shows were by invitation only. But this year's show return's to the 2006 policy of allowing people to register to get in.
The show is open to all "credentialed" international and U.S.-based media, industry analysts, retailers, developers and business partners.
Industry professionals need to submit two pieces of identification showing they work in the industry and press credentials are acquired by registering on the site. Both media credentialing and attenddee registration is now official open over on the e3 site.
While the show floor maps aren't yet available on the official site, I've heard that this year's show will essentially be the same size as 2006's convention hall-filling show but without Kentia Hall.