Just a week after the announcement from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) describing the downsizing of the trade association's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) from a noisy confab of more than 70,000 gamers, press and industry types to a more intimate, invitation-only gathering of 5,000 key industry figures, media and retailers, Gen Con LLC., host of the largest hobby game convention in North America, announced its plans to expand the offerings of the Gen Con shows to include more video game manufacturers, developers, publishers and others who traditionally attended the E3 show. 


Peter Adkison, CEO of Gen Con, LLC views the outreach to the video game industry as 'a natural extension for us to make Gen Con a place where the electronics industry can show off its products.  The video game business has always been part of our shows, now they will have a greater presence making Gen Con the nation's premier gaming show, period!'


That greater presence will involve a major addition of 43,000 square feet of additional space added to the exhibit hall at Gen Con Indy in 2007 with even more space resulting from expansion into area hotels as well.  Also in 2007 the Gen Con SoCal show, which has been held in Anaheim, will move to the Los Angeles Convention Center, the traditional home of the original large format E3 shows.


In an open letter to the hobby game community (see 'Peter Adkison on Gen Con's Future'), Gen Con's Adkison assured the traditional hobby game industry that Gen Con would not be 'abandoning its roots,' pointing out that 'we will be working harder to bring electronic game companies to Gen Con, but we will also continue to work hard to support the business of our current tabletop games exhibitors.  Just as importantly, we will not be taking any steps backwards in terms of supporting programming for tabletop games, role-playing games, miniatures games, board games, and live action role-playing games.'


The downsizing of E3, which also involves moving the show from May to July in order to make it easier for companies to preview new games debuting in the third and fourth quarters, will allow the major video game manufacturers to work the press more efficiently, and since a handful of buyers represent about 90% of the domestic video game market, it should be easy for the ESA trade association to accomplish its major goals at a much smaller event.  But the viral marketing produced by the attendance of 50,000 hardcore gamers will be left to other shows -- and Gen Con is clearly hoping to capture a good portion of that audience and expand its show offerings at a time when the traditional hobby game market has been battling declining sales.