Trade Show Wars: E3 vs CES
Which trade show offers more to the gamers?
Trade Show Wars
August 11, 2008 by Richard M. Sherwin

With the consumer electronics industry reaching nearly $170 billion in business and the video game software and hardware industry totaling nearly $50 billion, there’s a lot at stake for how, where, when and why the products are presented to retailers and industry experts and then to the public.

Does Best Buy’s chief video game buyer feel the energy when Nintendo floods their giant E3 July presentation in Hollywood with cheering ringers, who are NOT media, analysts or other buyers? Does the Game Spot or Circuit City audio-video equipment buyer make the connection on how much more he or she can add to a consumer purchase from the accessories featured at the Consumer Electronics Show in January?

Or does the regional giant J@R Music have to hire more people when Sony unveils different products on the West Coast and East Coast on the same day in California and New York City? The recent E3 show in Los Angeles had very little to offer in the way of learning what will be new for the holiday season from the major software providers, after the big guns Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo did their thing.

Yet last January’s Consumer Electronics Show featured hundreds more software makers, accessory makers and related video game manufacturers and service providers.

“I think we have shown that the consumer electronics show is a compelling trade show for all segments of the video game market and their software, hardware makers and accessory companies,” says Jason Oxman, the CEA’s Vice President of Communications. While Oxman refuses to knock his E3 rival, other industry analysts think that the industry and the public could be better served if the E3 improved its show or the CEA grabbed all of it.

“While I still have to see what Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft and others have to say in July, the public and buyers themselves are being better served by the larger Winter Show in Vegas,“ says Len Wanger, senior analyst at William Harris Investors.

Jason Oxman emphasizes that the International CES has had a concerted strategy to be the one must-attend global event for technology professionals. For four days each January, CES draws the who’s who of the consumer technology industry who attend CES as a one stop event to see the hottest products and companies across 30 different product categories including content, gaming, home theatre and wireless. For the past three years, the Int’l CES has featured a popular Gaming TechZone. During this time, the TechZone space has doubled in size, to accommodate companies such as Commodore Gaming, Entropia Universe, Red Lion Interactive, Shuttle Computers and War Machine, as well as LumiSource, Red Beard and InterAction Laboratories. Microsoft and Sony also feature the latest developments in the gaming world at their respective booths.

It wasn’t this way at all for the last ten years.

When the video game industry growing faster than even their participants realized, were dissatisfied with both of the consumer electronics shows the Spring show in Chicago and the larger one in Las Vegas in January, launched their own initiative in Los Angeles ten years ago…taking a late spring approach to garnering news and excitement from the very hot industry. It almost replaced the former spring CE show…AKA: the wake by the lake…as the pre-eminent trade show that was great for buyers, sellers, analysts the media and the consumer, too.

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Richard M. Sherwin - Contributing Writer
Richard Sherwin is a former syndicated technology columnist and TV/Radio analyst, who has also been a marketing executive with IBM, Philips, NBC and a chief advisor to several manufacturers and service providers.

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