The result? A lot of confusion and shuffling around London, not the nicest thing to be doing at the best of times, but the uproar has now led to an announcement that two competing trade shows, the same week will never happen again. Compounding that was Sony’s no-show at both events; they will be running their consumer orientated Playstation Experience in Alton Towers at the end of September. After the success at Leipzig where both Microsoft and Sony made price cut announcements for Europe, many people were left wondering if indeed there is a future for the London shows, or if something fresh is required to become the premier European show that will effectively be able to compete with E3.

The shows themselves were as different as possibly could be. ECTS ran in the Earls Court for another year, but was notably subdued this time around. The vast majority of both developers and publishers passed on the opportunity this year, leading to a fairly drab and dull show that mainly seemed to feature retail products such as disc cleaning tools, a number of trade delegations from Korea and our own IDA, and the only two big names of Nintendo and Microsoft Xbox.

Upstairs, GDCE went on unabated, with a wide range of speakers and a specific focus on the next generation, with both Xbox 2 and PSP development talks and workshops going on. However, attendance was poor in some, but the overall opinion seemed to be that of the two Developers Conferences, this was the good one. EDF down in ExCeL suffered badly from the split resources, with many talks featuring more people on stage than were in attendance in the audience, and overall it seems that EDF failed to attract a sufficient number of attendees to justify itself.

Also in ExCeL, the European Games Network was a little bit more upbeat. With the large consumer show going on across the hallway, more games focused stands and a good showing from both developers and studios the show was full of activity and the bar was pretty busy for most of the three days. But it was not as open as previous ECTS’s have been, with very few public displays in the trade area meaning that it wasn’t really that enjoyable to walk around and just see closed doors everywhere.

However, the definite saving grace of the ExCeL programme was Game Stars Live. It featured pretty much every publisher other than Acclaim and Sony, with plenty of activity from the get go every morning. Halo 2 was on show, the new Mortal Kombat, Pro Evolution, Prince of Persia, Championship Manager 5, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent and many more. With the recent events in the UK surround Manhunt, ELSPA were keen to show responsibility, and most publishers had restricted areas with security on duty to stop under 18’s viewing the more adult titles such as Fight Club and Leisure Suit Larry.

My own personal star of the show (other than the obvious wait for a chance to play Halo 2) was the Nintendo stand. While the DS was not on show, they had a Pier setup showing off all their planned titles for the rest of the year. Metroid Prime 2, Animal Crossing, Pikmin and a range of GBA titles were on show, but the ultimate game was there: Donkey Konga. Bongos will be heard all over the land come Christmas, and for good reason because it really is showing Nintendo’s commitment to making games fun again.

Overall the damage of having two shows running in separate venues concurrently really did show. Visitors that I spoke to who had been shuffling between the two areas were not too happy with the situation, and something will have to be done to address the splitting of resources if any of the London events hope to have any sort of long-term future.

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