CMP-Europe, the organisers of this year's ECTS (European consumer tradeshow), have finally decided to take notice of its name by allowing mere mortals to attend the event.

For the first time, according to CMP, the industry's main players have requested that consumers attend the show.

CMP puts this down to the new consoles, such as PS2 and Xbox, hitting the market and a change of exhibition venue from Olympia in west London to ExCel in the capital's Docklands area, which will allow them to accommodate more visitors.

But figures released earlier this year by Elspa (the European Leisure Software Publishers Association) showed that during 2001, although console game sales rose, PC software sales saw a slump of 4.6 percent.

"Last year there was a slight dip in attendance figures [as] there was a general slump in the market as a whole," said spokeswomen at CMP-Europe. "It's true that publishers are having to work a lot harder to market PC games than console games."

CMP blamed 2001's poor turnout on the slump across the whole IT industry. It could not yet confirm how many exhibitors would be taking part this year.

So perhaps opening its doors is more of a need than a want, although it is unlikely this will help the ailing PC games industry.

"Consumers will undeniably bring more money to the event," said a spokesman at Elspa. "Although most of them, sadly, will be there for console games and not PC games, the more money the event raises the better [for the industry as a whole]."

Consoles and handheld games are keeping the industry afloat and look likely to do so for a some time to come.

"The PC gaming industry is having a tougher time but the launch of new games, such as Tomb Raider [4], will hopefully improve the situation," added Elspa's spokesman.