I’ve been to all but a couple of the Electronic Entertainment Expos (E3) over the past two decades. Here’s some tips for surviving. We hope you enjoy the show. If it’s your first trip, we recommend that you go into it prepared.
The show is big, spanning the huge Los Angeles Convention Center, with at least 2,300 products on display. I talked with Mike Gallagher, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, about this year’s show. E3 has 81 new companies this year, and 126 of the exhibitors are virtual reality companies (it had 53 last year). There will be more than 100 mobile and social companies. And there are an estimated 2.6 billion gamers on the planet. At least 75 never-before-seen games will be on display.
Crowds: About 50,000 professionals show up at the event. And this year, the Entertainment Software Association is allowing 15,000 fans in as well. That will make the show more crowded. It takes a long time to walk from one end of the convention center to the other, so plan accordingly. If you can’t get somewhere like a big event, consider watching the livestream. It could make your life easier.
Keep in mind you may face a line for getting your badge. Do not lose your badge. They have big goons guarding the doors who are not sympathetic.
Getting around: For Southwest Airlines flights, try to check in exactly 24 hours ahead of boarding. Check in your baggage if you don’t have to get anywhere fast. Be prepared for long cab lines or rental car check-in lines.
When you return to the airport, give yourself time: 2.5 hours is not a bad target for heading out before your flight at LAX. Use ride-sharing when you can. Most rental cars are off-site at LAX, so allow extra time for returns and shuttles.
What to pack: Pack good shoes. You’ll be on your feet for hours, so you want to make sure to have good shoes. Bring spares in case you find that what you thought was comfortable isn’t. Pack some ibuprofen and vitamins, too, along with water and snacks. I also use a roller for my backpack to save me from wearing a heavy load for 14 hours.
If you collect a lot of swag, you can send it home via shipping services instead of carting it on the plane. You should print a map of the exhibit floor or rip one out of the show guide.
Avoid shaking hands to escape the E3 flu. Drink lots of water and chargers. Maybe even a surge protector if you can fit it in your suitcase. Get some sleep — you really don’t have to party every night. Your best bet for good food is outside the expo.
Appointments: Remember to get the cell contact of the person you are meeting with. Booth receptionists are always busy and it takes time to check in. Either arrive early or be prepared for a shorter-than-expected meeting. You’ll need cell contacts in case anyone surprises you with a meeting cancellation. This happens a lot. Try to do all of your appointments in one big hall on one day. There’s the big West (where the platform companies are) and South halls, and the Concourse Hall that connects them.
Schedule your appointments in locations that are near each other. Arrive early for keynotes because the lines are long. I would avoid the lines for the closed theaters. Getting hands-on with a game is a lot more fun than watching someone else play or watching a trailer. The latter is what you get in a theater.
Parking: Well, I’m not sure what I can say about this except get there early, and be wary of the traffic around the convention center. There is a lot of parking under the convention center, and there are lots in the surrounding area. If you can get away without driving, ride-sharing is a good alternative.
Social: Snap pictures. Share them. Your friends will be envious. Don’t do anything criminal because you’ll be caught on camera by somebody else. If you’re interested in parties, here’s the list for that. Make sure you have RSVPs and have proof if you want to make sure you get in.
The expo floor is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (all times here are Pacific) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Thursday, it is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Meeting rooms on the second floor open earlier at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.
Presumably, you’re going to E3 to catch up on the latest. Here’s when many of the announcements will be confirmed or broadcast for the first time.
E3 Coliseum is new this year. It will take place at The Novo theater at L.A. Live, outside the convention center. It features producer Geoff Keighley interviewing a number of game industry luminaries. It runs from 11 a.m. Tuesday to to 7 p.m. On Wednesday, it runs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 10: Electronic Arts has its livestream press event from 12 p.m to 1:30 p.m. The stream will continue with talks until 3 p.m. The EA Play fan fest event will take place at the Hollywood Palladium over three days. There are a couple of unannounced titles at this event.
Sunday, June 11: Microsoft will hold its Xbox briefing at 2 p.m.
Bethesda will start its announcement event at 7 p.m.
Monday: June 12: Intel will hold a press event on PC games at 9:15 a.m.
The PC Gaming Show will start at 10 a.m.
Ubisoft has its press briefing at 1 p.m. on Monday. Ubisoft teased a new intellectual property announcement from CEO Yves Guillemot.
Sony will hold its briefing at 6 p.m. If Call of Duty: WWII makes an E3 appearance, it will likely be here.
Tuesday, June 13: Nintendo has its online broadcast at 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.