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The Electronic Entertainment Expo, the annual videogame trade show, was recently downsized from 60,000 attendees to a scant 3,000 or so. Why? Because exhibitors were sick of the exorbitant costs associated with putting together a booth in the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center, and wanted an insidery event, not one open to all comers. Seeing a void left, IDG Entertainment, publisher of GamePro and the now defunct GameStar (a sort of Maxim for videogames), swooped in to host E For All. It's a public event, unlike the new E3's restricted-access gathering, and tickets for the four-day show go for $90. There's one problem: Exhibitors have no desire to attend.

Every day the list of companies planning to avoid the show expands — the number actually outnumbers confirmed exhibitors. So far Capcom, Microsoft, Midway, Sega, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, and Sony Online Entertainment have announced they will not attend. In fact the only confirmed, recognizable names are Electronic Arts, Konami, Namco Bandai, Nintendo and THQ.

There's a valuable lesson here. Don't try to fill a convention void created by fleeing exhibitors. The reason E3's organizer, the Entertainment Software Association, moved the expo to an intimate setting in Santa Monica was to avoid the expenses associated with the LA Convention Center. Surely companies would be less than thrilled to return to the venue. E For All also comes at the tail end of a months-long trade-show circuit that began with E3, traveled to Leipzig for the recently concluded Games Convention, and finishing with the Tokyo Game Show at the end of September. Sheer exhaustion, if nothing else, seems as good a reason as any to avoid it.