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E3 2018 Hosts First Esports Arena With Live Events

E3 offers a new experience to attendees at this year’s show with a little help from the world’s largest esports company, Electronic Sports League, organizers said Tuesday.

The Entertainment Software Association partnered with ESL to host an esports competition and events at the E3 ESL Arena this year. The event, the first of its kind in a hall inside E3, runs from June 12 through June 14 in Los Angeles. This is the second year of a three-year E3 partnership between the ESA and ESL.

“Competitive video games are taking sports entertainment by storm, with the global esports audience reaching 335 million people in 2017,” Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA, said in a statement. “With the addition of the E3 ESL Arena, E3 2018 is set to be a non-stop, edge-of-your-seat ride of video game announcements, demos, and competition.”

The arena, which is located in the L.A. Convention Center’s South Hall, can seat more than 200 attendees and will feature “custom player experiences” relating to competitive esports. E3 has yet to announce which esports games would be featured at the event.

Esports fans can also check out Nintendo’s competitive tournaments on June 11 and June 12 for the Switch. The company confirmed in March that teams will be invited to play at the first world “Splatoon 2” championship. Nintendo also announced the exhibition will include a preview of the still unnamed “Super Smash Bros.” coming to the Switch in 2018.

The E3 ESL Arena events and Nintendo tournaments are likely a push for more fan-friendly events. E3 first opened its doors to non-industry attendees in 2017, selling 15,000 tickets at $250 for public attendees, GameRant reported. According to IGN, 50,300 industry professionals attended E3 in 2016 compared to an overwhelming 68,400 in 2017, making last year one of the convention’s highest attendance in its 23 year history.

The public admittance was received with mixed reactions. The higher amount of attendees made it difficult to navigate the show floor. Members of the press also weren’t allowed on the show floor until doors opened to the public, making it difficult for some to make appointments.

But many developers embraced the public attendees. Studios like Ubisoft featured a larger stage in its booth for fans to play “Just Dance.” Sony set up demo time slots where attendees could sign up via their app to avoid waiting in lines.

The esports community continues to grow its mainstream audience, with the industry expected to bank $900 million in revenue this year, according to the E3 news release. Bringing esports to the largest game event of the year is a natural next step for the convention.

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