Los Angeles’ E3 Bringing Adult Content

Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES – Playboy playmates will be on hand for the opening Wednesday of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Arush Entertainment, which is rolling out a beta version of “Playboy: The Mansion” with co-publisher Groove Games, will provide the playmates. But the expo isn’t all about sex; it’s about the video- and computer- gaming industry.

E3 organizers told XBiz they expect 400 exhibiting companies representing 70 countries at this year's show, the 10th annual.

Nearly 1,000 game and related products are expected to be seen for the first time, as reporters, buyers, industry analysts and venture capitalists come out to see from an insider's look at what lies ahead in the gaming world.

The event, with about 400 manufacturer booths, also will bring a lot of glitz along the way because gaming has become big business.

Industry tracking company NPD Group says video game retail sales in the United States – including software, hardware and accessories – totaled $11.2 billion last year.

And the correlation between those interested in adult content and computer gaming gets narrower.

Chicago-based Playboy Enterprises said last month that its readers spent over $300 million on video games over the last year with more than 3.1 million readers owning a video game system.

Playboy’s “Mansion” game is 3-D, and is touted as a virtual Playboy experience, complete with lavish parties and buxom women. The product will be available in Xbox and PlayStation 2 formats.

E3 serves as a litmus test for products and buyers from major retailers that use the event to shape their game plan for the holiday season, when most sales occur.

"It's pretty vital, because you get a pulse on the industry and you see what other people are doing," said Denis Dyack, president of Silicon Knights, a Canadian developer.

Besides news conferences and other pitches, there will be entertainment.

One of the founding members of Nine Inch Nails will be performing, and martial arts pros will show up.

Arush, which publishes Playboy’s new software, plans to hype its “Fear Factor” game by offering a prize to anyone willing or able to pull a poker chip from a tank filled with hissing Madagascar cockroaches.

The convention, open to the trade only, runs through Friday. More information can be had at www.e3insider.com.