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Huge crowds flood the first public E3 (update)

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Show floor opens 15 minutes early to prevent hazard

Opening day crowd at E3 2017
Wes Phillips via Twitter

The largest crowds seen for E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center forced it to open doors 15 minutes early today to keep the situation from becoming hazardous, according to several tweets from industry figures.

Pete Hines, the top spokesman for Bethesda Softworks, tweeted this at 11:24 a.m. PDT:

Jeff Rubenstein of Microsoft captured a slow-moving horde inundating the show floor in a short clip:

This is the first time E3 has been open to the public; the Entertainment Software Association, which manages the event, sold 15,000 tickets granting three-day access to the expo. Ordinarily, it has been an event for industry, retailers and press covering the subject.

Update: The ESA’s Dan Hewitt told Polygon that the organization “made the decision to open 15 minutes early because the floor was ready and out of an overabundance of caution about attendees on the sidewalks outside of the convention center.”

“As soon as the doors opened, the lines dissipated,” Hewitt said. “Everything is and was always under complete control. ‘Overwhelm’ makes it sounds like we weren’t prepared and we absolutely were and are.”

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department told Polygon that there were no LAFD units at the scene and no hazards or incidents it was aware of. LAFD inspectors are on site to routinely monitor crowd size and flow.

The ESA told Polygon last week that, although it had sold tickets to 15,000 newcomers, it cut down on the number of qualified passes given to industry and media. “You’ll see an increase in the number of people,” said Rich Taylor, the ESA’s senior vice president of communication and industry affairs, “but probably not by 15,000 though.”

Even with the early opening, the clot of expo-goers at the doors — and the need to check their badges — kept many far away from the entrance past opening time. Polygon writers on the scene said the crowd is by far the largest seen for an E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

“The show floor is flooded with people, it’s more packed than I’ve ever seen it,” said editor-at-large Justin McElroy. “Worse, I suspect because no one has appointments, everyone is just kind of wandering aimlessly as they stare at the spectacle.”

From Robert Goode, the reviews editor of Cheap Ass Gamer:

And Wes Phillips of Epic Games provided this look at Nintendo’s packed booth: