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New trade and consumer events for Sept 2004

Time to invest in a doppelganger.

Industry magnates will have more than just ECTS to worry about next year, with new trade and consumer exhibitions now set to battle it out with CMP's longstanding trade and most recently consumer destination at the beginning of September 2004.

According to announcements this morning, the ELSPA board has endorsed the launch of a new trade exhibition, the European Games Network (EGN), set to take place between September 1st and 3rd at ExCeL in London's Docklands area, the enormous conference centre where ECTS 2001 was rooted, while Game Stars Live, a spin-off from the ITV-backed games industry awards show that first ran this Easter, will accommodate up to 100,000 consumers in a five-day exhibition next door, running between September 1st and 5th.

According to its release this morning, ELSPA's goal with EGN is to shape a new destination for the domestic and global games industry to do business, and the structure of the show is described as a radical departure from traditional trade shows, with an emphasis on pre-scheduled meetings and a programme of seminars, workshops and executive briefings. The event will be made up of several components; The Market Place, a traditional show floor of exhibition space, The Waterfront Rooms, a series of 60 dedicated meeting suites, The EGN Lounge, another dedicated area for meetings, The Conference and Workshop Programme, and The Code Shop, an area for developers.

One of the foundations of EGN will be The Meeting Planner, a forthcoming online resource that will enable exhibitors, VIPs and higher registration tier delegates to schedule their time at EGN effectively. A pre-planned list of VIPs from retail, distribution, publishing and development will be offered free entry and dedicated resources and services at the show, and there will be a number of different delegate packages and rates available to other attendees.

Meanwhile, the five-day Game Stars Live event will look to capture the attention of the general public, bringing them into direct contact with publishers' Christmas 2004 line-ups in a similar format to Sony's highly successful PlayStation Experience event. Game Stars Live already has the backing of Granada and ITV, who will run a one-off 60-minute TV show based on the event for broadcast in Q4 2004, in addition to the planned Easter awards show, and media partners include Capital FM, XFM, an unnamed major national newspaper and a lifestyle brand for 16-34 year olds. ELSPA is obviously also endorsing the event, as are a number of publishers including EA, THQ and Eidos.

The consumer show layout will incorporate a main stage area where ITV, Capital FM and XFM will all broadcast from, along with The Bear Pit games challenges, The Virtual vs. Reality Zone, The International FragFest (described as Europe's largest LAN party) and Get Into Gaming (a careers and education area), among other things. All trade delegates will enjoy open access to the neighbouring Game Stars Live consumer event for the duration of the latter.

ELSPA is a stakeholder in EGN, and the show will be run for them by London EventCo, who will also handle the logistics of the Game Stars Live event. ELSPA has entered into discussion with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to help encourage a strong international presence at EGN, and discussions with the Greater London Authority and London Development Agency are also underway with a view to expanding the number of industry and consumer facing initiatives going on that week.

According to ELSPA Director General Roger Bennett, "EGN is for everyone in the business of games. Our members and our board believe it is right for the industry to be the stakeholder of the European business event. They have encouraged us to develop EGN, using the ownership model the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) enjoys in the US, where it owns and drives the huge E3 trade event."

"Clearly our objective is to balance this with the needs and expectations of Europe, therefore EGN will deliver a mix of business, free of hype in a structured environment for all sectors of the games value chain."

He continued: "We are also particularly pleased with the opportunities that have been presented to ELSPA through EGN's co-location with Game Stars Live. We believe that this will be a particularly strong catalyst for exhibitors and delegates to EGN as its media and retail profile is exceptional."