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Video game industry convention E3 will be open to the public this year


For any video game fan, attending E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, has been viewed as some sort of incredible dream. Every year, E3 is where publishers show off upcoming games and hardware that sometimes won’t hit store shelves until a year or two later. It’s that nerdy urge to be on the “inside,” and play games before anyone else that drives this fantasy. Well, it is fantasy no more. For the first time in E3’s history, it will be open to the public this year.

Ticket sales for E3 2017 will open online on Monday, February 13 via the official E3 website. Only 15,000 tickets will be available to the public. The price will normally run for $250 a piece, though if you order on the 13th, you can get an early bird discount to drop the price to $150. Ticket holders will get access to the show floor, panels, and other to-be-announced programming. E3 will be partnering with well-known industry veteran Geoff Keighly (the man behind the annual Video Game Awards show) to grant fans access to Keighly’s own E3 show programming, including developer interviews.

Historically, E3 has been an industry-only event. The only way to get in would be to apply for a media badge with proof that you were a part of the industry. Some clever folks would try to get around this by making up some fake Pokémon fan website, but the ESA, the Entertainment Software Association, the organization behind the event, has gotten much stricter about credentials over the years.


Last year, the ESA experimented with public events with E3 Live, a small event located outside of the actual convention center. A small selection of publishers provided demos for some upcoming games, as well as some bizarre live marketing stunts from Doritos.

While many fans have been clamoring for an open E3 for a very long time, these days it’s easy enough to just sit at home while enjoying the deluge of game news over the course of the week thanks to Internet livestreams. Many publishers have even chosen to sit out E3 entirely, opting for their own press events, including big names like Activision and EA. Nintendo has even been limiting their presence at the show, as their booth last year only had one game. Of course, that one game was the new Zelda, so I can see fans plopping down $250 solely to play that, even if only for 20 minutes.

Another reality of E3 is that it’s usually an event focused on business. People are there for their jobs. If you don’t have an appointment to meet with a developer for a game demonstration, you’ll be looking at waiting in a line for hours on end, and just for one game. Journalists are given priority, and I can just imagine the angry glares from the public who stood in line for 5 hours to play the new Mario game as an industry person cuts the line to do their job. It will be interesting to see if the ESA changes this format to deal with the increase in attendance and expectations.

With the popularity of open gaming events like PAX and Gamescom, it’s no surprise that E3 is experimenting this this idea. With publishers dropping out, the ESA is likely trying to fill in the empty hall space.

“It’s a changing industry, and E3 has always evolved to meet industry needs and anticipate where we’re heading together–as an event, as an industry, and as fans,” said ESA Senior Vice President Rich Taylor. “The decision to open our doors to 15,000 fans was a strategic decision. It is thanks to our members and their vision and leadership that made this possible. We have a model that allows the business of the industry to continue for our business and media attendees and provides an opportunity for video games’ biggest fans to experience the latest in innovative, immersive entertainment.”

E3 2017 will take place at the Los Angeles Convention center from June 13 to 15. T decision to open the show to the public is not yet a permanent change. E3 2018 may go back to being a closed event if this experiment is not successful, so if you’re a video game fan that’s been dying to get to E3, this year might be the time to cross it off your bucket list.

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