SixOn was at E3 this year, albeit through general attendance. I tried to register as industry but there were far too many credentials and requirements to comply. Even my DH (let's call him Kirito), who is an employee of the electronics giant, Newegg, and his colleagues had difficulty registering to no avail. We opted to get general admission, the controversial neon yellow/green badge.
Ah, there was much animosity for the neon badge holders from the industry holders. I didn't pay much attention to it, but it seemed like there was a lot of glares and hate upon the general attendees. My industry holder buddy also expressed his disdain quite openly and frequently. General attendess were blamed for the lack of swag, convention casual feel rather than trade show, crowding, and the loooong lines for admission, food, swag, events, apps, and the games. Lines were incredibly long, ranging from 2 to 4 hours PER GAME. The exhibit halls were frequently packed, there were little walking room through the large booths, and with the immense amount of electronics and consoles and monitors it felt a bit warm at times. There was very little swag and giveaways, a few pens and pins and bags here and there, but far less when compared to previous years or other trade shows, with longer than usual lines to get the meager goods (confirmed quite bitterly by my buddy). Word was that when the large companies heard the general public will be allowed this year, they opted to not give away swag as it would be too costly.
HOWEVER, it was still fun and enjoyable, seeing all the games on display and getting a few swags. We met a lot of amazing people and were able to see prolific influencers, developers, and industry guests on site.
We picked up our badges on Sunday to avoid the crowds. Parking at the convention center was expensive: $20/day and for the first day, $25/day for the second and third day. Badge pickup was fast (scanned, printed, inserted into Nintendo lanyards). The merchandise booth was open and we were recommended to purchase as much as we could before it sold out. There were shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, hats, ponchos, shot glasses, bags, all sorts of gadgets. Indeed some of the shirts and sweatshirts were gone by Day 1, and by the end of the trade show, all that was left were some stacks of shirts and random trinklets.
Day 1 was PACKED. The South Hall and West Hall were packed and it was shoulder to shoulder at all of the large booths. Kirito waited in line for 3 1/2 hours (!) for the Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood Beat Susano event, which he and his team were victorious (yay!). The E3 Coliseum was new for this year, but word was that there was a line starting around 8am, a much longer line by 11am, and the venue hit full capacity by 2pm. Day 2 was not much better with just slightly more walking room. The Super Mario Odyssey line was super long, wrapped around the booth outside, and zig-zagged in the back. There was not a moment when the Nintendo booth had breathable walking room. I also met up with RikuFantasy who was wearing SixOn's Squall Hoodie, he received many compliments (yay!). Day 3 seemed the least crowded, not much less, but I felt like I saw more camera-men being able to have room to set up their equipment to record the activities going on. Other than Kirito playing Stormblood, we didn't really play anything else and spent our time walking and looking around and watching other players.
Shopping-wise there were two E3 merchandise booths, Natsume had a small shop in their booth selling Harvest Moon Plushes, Ubisoft had a shop set-up, Playstation had a large shop set-up located outside the convention center, Square Enix had a large shopping section, Loot Crate had a build-your-own-crate booth, plus a bunch of other shops selling different merchandise. The food was convention pricing ($12.50/3 tacos, bottled water at $4, etc), although these Korean Barbacoa tacos were pretty good. Alcohol was served at bars and food areas throughout the convention center.
We spoke to a representative of a large gaming booth, and he felt the crowds were great to publicize their games and content. Both industry and general attendees patiently lined up for the games and social media was buzzing. It was very busy for them and all the reps had little chance to rest, but it was excellent exposure. It sounds like the larger crowds worked out for some.
There's no word at the moment if the general public would be allowed next year. This was the first time in E3 history they have done this, it would probably come down to how well it benefited the exhibiting companies and probably monetary gain for the ESA. If they do offer it again, perhaps they can change it up a bit to relieve the tension between industry and general attendees (separate lines, industry-only days, etc).
I'm grateful to have been able to go. I didn't really play anything, but it was really fun to be able to see upcoming games in person and being able to take part of all the energy and excitement. If E3 opens to the public again next year, I may take part once more. =]