Bright Lights: “Fortnite” distributor Epic Games expands E3 presence.

Bright Lights: “Fortnite” distributor Epic Games expands E3 presence. Photo by Samson Amore

Video game publishers, developers and accessory companies converged on the Los Angeles Convention Center last week for the Entertainment Software Association’s annual E3 gaming expo.

This year, the number of attendees increased as in past years, but total exhibitors paying for space stayed relatively flat. The Entertainment Software Association said there were 209 exhibitors last week, up from 200 last year but down from 293 in 2017.

That’s partially because smaller companies find it difficult to justify the cost of the event. Firms not planning physical product launches also have a difficult time justifying their E3 attendance — and the dearth of major gaming hardware releases made the expo somewhat less valuable for some businesses that did set up shop.

Local web-focused game developers, including Culver City-based Scopely Inc. and Jam City Inc., Sawtelle-headquartered Riot Games Inc. and Burbank-based Insomniac Games Inc., skipped the three-day conference this year.

West Los Angeles-based mobile game company Survios Inc. also decided to skip E3 after exhibiting the last three years. The company instead held off-site demonstrations adjacent to the Convention Center. Mike Domaguing, Survios’ head of publishing and partnerships, said the virtual reality-focused developer found showcasing its VR games on the show floor difficult and expensive.

“When we looked at the economics, it just didn’t make any sense,” Domaguing said. “We spent a lot of money in the last couple years, but when we looked at it, the ROI wasn’t there.”

The ESA declined to share how much booths cost, but in past years companies reported spending up to $30,000 for a three-day stay in the smallest booth offered. That price increases as companies bring in props, televisions and other accoutrements to catch fans’ attention.

Major game companies did not release any new hardware in conjunction with E3 this year, which also hurt some exhibitors. Companies such as Torrance-based game accessory manufacturer Bionik Gaming said a new game console can drive the sales of ancillary products.

“It’s different when there’s a hardware launch,” Bionik Director of Product Development Geona Sunabe said. “It does help (and) it gives us more opportunities to come out with accessories when there’s a new hardware.”

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