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The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has been canceled, but Los Angeles Comic Con plans to expand its gaming expo and experiences for fans that come to the show in December 1 to December 3.
It’s not going to be a replacement for the business event of gaming that was E3. But it should be a big fan show, as last year the show drew 200 exhibitors and 126,000 attendees, including 87,000 who visited the gaming experience.
Chris DeMoulin, CEO of show producer Comikaze Entertainment, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the big event plans to expand its Gaming & Anime Hall, doubling it to roughly 200,000 square feet in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center.
“We try to change our content every year based on what our fans want,” DeMoulin said. “We were planning on expanding anyway.”
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And in recent years the fans wanted to see more gaming and anime content. COVID-2019 slowed down the event’s growth but it returned in 2021 to the convention center and began growing again.
“I’m a longtime fan of E3. And I was really looking forward to see what Reedpop was going to do with it,” he said. “That show needed reinvention. When they said they weren’t doing anything, we said there are probably a lot of companies that were going to exhibit there that now could not. So we let them know we have a great gaming event in LA Comic Con.”
The LA Comic Con is now Los Angeles’ biggest gaming event, assuming E3 is gone for good. And it will build out the experience with a host of more gaming-related content on the West Hall Gaming stage, including the creators, influencers, and voice-over actors behind these experiences.
Last year, the Comic Con held a League of Legends tournament on its gaming stage. Last year, the LA Comic Con had about 16,000 square feet of exhibitors in the West Hall, and so it was a small slice of the possible gaming crowd.
“The fan feedback and exhibitor response from Gaming & Anime was so positive in 2022, we had no choice but to expand our offering,” said DeMoulin. “While we were all disappointed to learn that E3 would not be returning to L.A. this year, we wanted to remind the fans and gaming exhibitors that L.A. Comic Con now provides the biggest and best range of video games, activations, creators, and talent for passionate gaming fans in the area. We’re excited to help gaming companies place their products in front of thousands of those fans in 2023, which will see us double the size of our Gaming & Anime area. With continuing fan support, there is no limit to how big this can become.”
In 2022, LA Comic Con hosted over 100 new vendors across more than 100,000 square feet in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, which was the home base for its gaming and anime attractions. The event featured a free-play gaming area for attendees with competitive offerings while also providing a platform for exhibitors, publishers, game developers, and artists in the gaming and anime industry.
The cool thing about LA that’s different from other markets is LA has all the fandom here and there is a venue in the convention center that allows us to address all of it and make the experience special for gamers, DeMoulin said.
Just ahead of The Game Awards on December 8, gaming companies will still be able to get in front of the eyes of consumers at LA Comic Con, as the show continues to be a premier event in the gaming industry.
Of course, you can expect a fan been to be a lot different from E3. The 2022 Comic Con show offered a pop cultural wonderland of interactive experiences, panel discussions, autograph signings, photo ops, dance performances, cosplay contests, sponsor activations, anime and gaming activities (and more) to the guests. There were also likely a lot more cosplayers.
This year DeMoulin wants to target more fans. He will do so with a larger footprint across the convention center.
“At our 2022 show, we had the largest attendance we’ve ever had, and we had the largest square footage we’ve ever had,” DeMoulin said. “The nice thing about us expanding into the West Hall, is it has allowed us to have so much space that we can expand the show size even more.”
E3 tried to save itself in recent years by adding more fans to the crowd, in addition to its traditional business-to-business crowd. Asked if LA Comic Con would try to draw more gaming business crowds, DeMoulin said it is a good question.
“How do you utilize the 130,000 or so fans together for three days to highlight your upcoming game?” DeMoulin said. “If you’re a consumer-facing company in games, how would you take advantage of this?”
Of course, Reedpop still operates its PAX gaming fan shows and will likely have another one coming September in Seattle and there is another Comic Con in San Diego. But DeMoulin doesn’t think Comic Cons in different cities really compete with each other.
“If you look at the attendees of a fan show, 80% to 90% of them come from within 50 miles to 75 miles of a location,” he said.
“This is really about giving an opportunity for the IP owners and game companies to connect with fans in LA,” he said. “We’re going to bring in 130,000 to 140,000 really passionate fans to LA. And this is your opportunity to connect with them.”
He thinks the timing works well as game companies want to show off the games they’re launching in the fourth quarter.
The expo has had a preview area for upcoming games and an indie game area with The Mix. There were mainstage panels where creators, voice actors, and talent from games.
“It’s meant to be sort of a fun mashup of all the different things you love about gaming,” he said. “I think you’ll see that we have a terrific lineup of gaming stuff and anime stuff. It’s as good as anything you’re gonna see anywhere in the country.”
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