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ECTS 2004 - was it worth the hype?
Written by Chris C   
Wednesday, 08 September 2004 14:22

Every year, as the post summer rain begins to fall, and the British public start muttering and cursing, threatening to move to a warmer country, the good people at Earls Court start preparing for the year’s ECTS show. Chris C headed towards ECTS2004 with high hopes, but not everything was as expected.

Every year, as the post summer rain begins to fall, and the British public start muttering and cursing, threatening to move to a warmer country, the good people at Earls Court start preparing for the year’s ECTS show. Always something of a mixed bag, the expected turnout can never be accurately predicted. Last year for example, The Playstation Experience taught the ECTS a thing or two about organising such events, and tickets sales shot up into the hundreds of thousands, whereas previous years had only been met with a lukewarm reception.

However, instead of learning from their mistakes, ECTS stuck to what they knew, and put on a trade show aimed, it would appear, at the independent video game retail store market. With the likes of GAME and HMV in the UK, it’s not that large a market to target and sadly, it would appear that once again, they missed.

With Gamestars Live just around the corner, it was inevitable that ECTS would suffer slightly, numbers wise. However, even I was surprised when, at 10 am on Friday, I waltzed into the exhibition centre with a handful of others without so much as a hint of a queue. There were in fact, more staff than visitors, even by 11 am.

The stands themselves were also something of a let down. With the targeted smaller independent stores reflected in the type of product on display, we were treated to the latest in CD cleaning/repairing technology, shop display advancements, including new, brightly coloured shelves and stands (exhilarating) and the latest issues of computer magazines.

There were, of course, some games on show – the highlights being a near complete copy of Outrun 2 on Xbox, a five player stand devoted to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. on the PC (although where you were supposed to find four other people from was beyond me) and a playable “work-in-progress” of the new Resident Evil title for the Gamecube. Herein lies the real problem with the show however, the lack of games. Apart from the aforementioned, there really was not a great deal to see or play. Gran Turismo 4 demos littered the centre stage, with driving seats hooked up for good measure, but they were no more than the Gran Turismo Prologue discs, which have been on sale for months now. Nintendo’s stand had a few copies of the new Donkey Konga game; complete with bongo drums, (nothing new for importers who have had access to the game since December) a few copies of the new Gamecube edition of Wario Wares and the odd Gameboy Advance SP with Mario Golf. Microsoft were more intent on pushing their new Direct X technology, and, strangely enough, a surround sound speaker set up for the Xbox, and Sony didn’t even bother turning up.

The sad part is, Sony probably had the right idea of avoiding the show altogether. Those exhibitors who did show, looked almost desperate for attention, leaving Joe Public feeling almost embarrassed as they walk on by yet another empty stand pushing the latest edutainment title or chess game for your mobile phone.

I did however make one purchase on the day. A leather sofa bean bag, from a lovely chap from Shmangle. (Ed:We had to include a picture, as this was one of the coolest things on show!)

Shmangle Sofa Chair 

He too was very disappointed with the organisers, who had, it would seem, promised all traders thousands upon thousands of visitors every day. “It has been a big disappointment for us, the numbers have not been anything like what we expected,” he explained.

All in all it was a very uninspiring morning with the only highlight being the blazing temperatures we faced on leaving the centre. The question is posed therefore, will they bother with the ill-fated show next year, and if so… why?

Did you visit ECTS 2004 - tell us your experiences right here!


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