Game Professionals Upbeat at E3

E3, the annual electronic entertainment megashow held annually in Los Angeles, is something to see. This year, 250 exhibitors are showing off new hardware and software (IE, games), and between 41,000 and 48,000 people are expected to wander through the LA Convention Center between today and Thursday, when the show ends.

Game Professionals Upbeat About the Business at E3This is a trade show, remember, so nearly all of these folks are professionals of some sort – producers, designers, testers, developers, marketers, retailers, or what have you. It feels like a consumer show, though it’s anything but.

So, what’s the word? Coming out of the recession you’ve got to figure some people downgraded the importance of their video game purchases, and certainly everyone I talked to said 2009 wasn’t a year to remember. They’re feeling good today, though. When I asked one booth staffer how things were going, he smiled and just waved at the crowd flooding the West exhibit hall – a few thousand people cheerfully threading their way through displays of post-apocalyptic Las Vegas, race courses, and various battles to stave off Armageddon.

Among other things, folks here say:

  • There’s definitely hiring going on. Companies are looking for developers, testers, and professionals with core IT skills – the kind who can keep systems up and running. Like one person said: “Equipment always breaks.”
  • Business is slower on the hardware side than the software side.
  • Companies are always looking for testers.

I came here expecting to hear a lot about 3D. Instead, I’ve heard about making games less dependent on controllers. Think Microsoft‘s Kinect, Nintendo’s 3DS and Wii, and Sony’s Playstation Move. It may be 3D is something that’ll get more serious next year.

And, by the way: The trailer for LucasArts’ Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is awesome.

— Mark Feffer