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Who would pay a thousand dollars for a ticket to E3?

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Premium Badge is a pricey option for those who don’t qualify as trade

A mob of fans waits in line for the opening of the E3 convention in 2017. Photo: ESA

Public tickets for E3 2020 went on sale earlier this month, with the basic “Gamer Badge” going for $165. But there’s also a “Premium Badge” that costs a hefty $995. So what does all that extra money actually buy?

The big benefit appears to be access to the E3 show floor on the first day of the show (Tuesday, June 9). The Gamer Badge is valid only on Wednesday and Thursday. In theory, this means Premium Badge holders get extra access to games on the show floor, without competition from other members of the public.

But the first day of E3 is usually very busy on the show floor, thronged with attendees from the game industry and media, who make up around 75 percent of E3 visitors. Entrance is free for anyone who can demonstrate that they work in the industry, or who have valid media credentials. The first day is the most popular for the trade.

The Premium Badge also offers access to a lounge where you can enjoy “a quiet atmosphere,” according to the Entertainment Software Association, which runs E3. The lounge also offers various services such as email access, much like a hotel business center.

There’s also a reception that “industry CEOs” attend, as well as daily networking events. We’ve asked for a list of industry people who will be at this year’s events, but have not yet received a reply, although ESA head Stanley Pierre-Louis is certain to attend.

Other benefits include access to the show floor and to the adjacent E3 Live exhibits via a “VIP entrance,” as well as merchandise discounts, a hotel reservation service, and two catered meals a day.

The ESA won’t say how many tickets are available for the public, nor how many are set aside for Premium Badges, but it did give us an idea of the sort of people who buy the more expensive option.

“We offered the Premium Badge last year and it sold out pretty quickly,” said an ESA spokesperson. “Last year, premium badge holders ran the gamut from veteran E3 attendees who appreciated the quiet lounge option, to newbies who wanted to be able to expedite their access to the floor and take advantage of the concierge-like service for hotel reservations. The breakfast with Stan and industry CEOs is an example of VIP programming that was really well attended and popular, as were the afternoon networking receptions.”