It’s fascinating to look across recent live events and see how they’ve evolved after a locked down world. Here are reports from Augmented World Expo, Licensing Expo, IMEX and E3 as they return to the new normal.
E3: What Replaces Live Events, A Cautionary Tale
Despite the fact that E3 is not happening this June, the gaming industry retained its rhythm of announcements. Maybe it’s temporal imprinting?
Protocol Media calls it “Not-E3” but reports that the schedule of press conferences from major game vendors reminds us that we’ve been trained on seasonality. To quote Protocol, “gaming companies stopped needing E3 a long time ago.” The story reports that “the annual game conference has been antiquated for quite some time, and game companies have become much more savvy.” Direct presentations, geographically scattered events, virtual events, fan based events, and other experiences give these companies more options than the traditional exhibition route. Also note that a relative newcomer (2020), Summer Game Fest, is scheduled for June 9th. Greg Keighley, the show’s creator, maintains that the Summer Game Fest has a different vibe than E3. He invites attendees to co-stream and spread the game news with him. Lesson learned? If there’s a void, it will be filled.
The 2022 IMEX show In Frankfurt, after a two-year hiatus, reported 9,000 attendees, including close to 3,000 buyers, along with 2,300 exhibiting companies. Since it’s a show for event producers, the event industry is rejoicing over the turnout. But the new realities of the events market—inflation, supply chain, labor shortages, and an emphasis on sustainability and diversity—were up for discussion and will challenge the events industry to adapt. Some strong themes at the show included the importance of high quality production for virtual events, long-term reskilling and staff development, and the fact that attendees’ and sponsors’ commitments to the show have become much more last minute.
The Licensing Expo is having a moment because licensing is going to play an increasingly important role in the evolution of Web 3.0. Sharon Weisman, a member of the VEG Board of Advisors, reported from Vegas that there’s what she calls licensing-in and licensing-out. The first is brand/art that starts in digital form (say a piece of NFT artwork). The latter is when you take an IP and extend it beyond its core.
Bored of Directors, a private group of ape-owners, showed up at the licensing show to explore how to extend their IP.
Image credit: Brand Central
At this moment, Weisman says that “the easiest entry point for IP into the metaverse seems to be Roblox.” Eventually she expects these games to be trumped by actual cryptoverses and the blockchain. Virtual Brand Group won an award at the show for its Forever21(the retail store)/Barbie/Roblox arrangement. Consumers can buy the Barbie capsule collection of fashion as real life clothing, or as clothing for their avatars. They’ll also sell accessories.
Finally, Weisman notes that a lot of toy companies are going to offer much cheaper NFTs, understanding that the true fans aren’t crypto whales. Look for NFTs as low as $25 for a McFarland NFT. Collectible NFTs without utility are aimed at a small, but passionate group, not the mainstream.
Image credit: Brand Central
Davos World Economic Forum
Despite the idealistic rhetoric about crypto being an alternative to centralized banking, the big story to emerge from the Davos World Economic Forum is that crypto-heads were at Davos in full force. You might say that Davos was crypto bombed. WEF attendees were bombarded with signs advertising stablecoin issuer Circle and crypto brokerage Bitcoin Suisse as they got off their planes in Zurich or trains in Davos. Kristin Smith, Executive Director of The Blockchain Association, appeared on a number of panels and reported that “the overall tone around crypto was positive and encouraging. There’s a growing crowd that now sees the staying power of crypto integrating into our financial systems and our economy.” But even as she applauds their efforts, others believe that Davo’s relevance as an event might be waning.
XR, AR, VR Wearables
Augmented World Expo put the spotlight on the emerging world of XR, AR, and VR headsets, glasses, and other wearables. A few call out moments? The line to see the MagicLeap headsets (lighter with greater field of vision) was huge. Winners of the show’s Auggie Awards included Volu, a camera for the metaverse; Varjo, a high-end enterprise grade headset; and a VR production called Breonna’s Garden, a tribute to Breonna Taylor.
MagicLeap’s new glasses.
Credit: Robin Raskin, selfie