Today we’ll try something different. Normally on these #ZoinkDay blog posts we try to talk about our upcoming game Zombie Vikings but this week I thought I could talk about going to gaming conventions as an exhibitor and showing your game to an audience. More specifically – going to EGX Rezzed in London. We were there a few weeks ago and now it’s time to evaluate – Is it worth going to conventions?
Let’s start the beginning. In spring 2014 we decided to team up with fellow Gothenburg studio Image & Form. This was because we decided to self-publish our games and do our own PR & marketing for our games instead of working with a publisher. Since Image & Form had been doing this for a couple of years it made sense to team up. We’re still two different companies doing our own thing. We just decided it would make sense to share resources when it comes to pr, marketing and publishing. Our first big trip together was to go to Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco quickly followed by PAX East in Boston. Next on the schedule was EGX Rezzed – A convention in London that focuses on indie games. Me and Julius (community manager at Image & Form) got the opportunity to go and we were excited to say the least!
Okay, so what is EGX Rezzed? Here’s what their website says: “EGX Rezzed is a more intimate affair than its bigger brother EGX, but you can still expect to find many of the features you love from previous events; playable pre-release PC and console games with a focus on indie titles, presentations from world renowned game designers and the opportunity to chat directly with developers.” The convention had more than 12 000 visitors this year and it was packed to say the least!
We decided to rent one stand each with a width of about 2 meters (6.5 ft). The stand came with a “24 computer monitor and a computer to run your game on. We upgraded to a “40 TV because it wasn’t that expensive. Included in the price was also a huge wall canvas with the logo from the game. Our neighbors on the same wall of four developers were the fine people from Coatsink and Ground Shatter.
The convention started on Thursday and ended on Saturday. It was three hectic days with a lot of people trying our games. I showed Zombie Vikings and it was the first time we showed the game in public in Europe. The week before we showed the game for the first time ever in GDC and PAX East so we had already learned some does and don’ts which was really useful to keep in mind. The stand was busy throughout the whole event and a lot of people got a chance to try Zombie Vikings. People seem to really enjoy it and we got a lot of laughs and comments about the crazy things that happens in the game. People really seemed to love the Mega Zombie where all four characters are stitched together and have to co-operate their movement and attacks. Another feature people really loved was picking each other up and forming a giant Zombie tower. Since we spent a lot of time on the co-op focus on Zombie Vikings it was really fun to see people really getting into the game and having fun with these features. Another thing people really seemed to enjoy was the depth of the game. It’s 2D characters but in a 3D-world. You can move into the screen and also closer towards the screen and that sometimes reveals certain hidden paths which unlocks side quests and other secret areas. People really loved that and every time they found a secret they all got excited.
There were a lof of people who had played Stick it to The Man who came up and started talking to me. We had printed a poster saying “From the creators of Stick it to The Man” which we brought which really helped. Since Zombie Vikings and Stick it to The Man share the same art style a lot of people came up and commented on how much they liked it.
So what did we learn?
Since we just started going to conventions as exhibitors we’re just getting started and learning as we go along. Here are some of the things we learned at EGX Rezzed:
- Company Profile Clothing – Wearing clothing with your company and/or current game is quite obvious a good thing but a small detail I learned was to print the company logo at the back of your shirt. I saw some other developers who did that and it looked really good. You could see from both directions that the person was working with the game.
- Our stand was too small – Zombie Vikings is a 1-4 co-op brawler and most of the times there were 3-4 people playing. Since we only had about 2 meters (6.5 ft) the stand was busy at all times. It didn’t help that the company next to us also had a 4-player game. Although they were really nice and made sure the people testing their game didn’t take too much room our stands were really crowded. Too crowded actually. Next time we’re showing Zombie Vikings we need to make sure four people can actually fit so they can enjoy the game and I can stand next and explain the gameplay. All the people playing also blocked the view, making it hard see anything for the people passing by. Lucky we upgraded to that “40 TV though otherwise no one would have seen anything!
- Put website + Social media on all your print materials – We gave out flyers and posters, which was really appreciated. On these we had thought about printing website and social media links which was good. We gave these out to everyone who tried the game to make them remember what they played. What we did miss was to put this info on the giant wall canvas, which everyone saw when they passed. Next time, next time… Also make sure you bring enough business card. I brought around 100 which I assumed was more than I needed. But close to the second day I was all out! It didn’t feel so professional writing your contact information on a napkin you found lying around.
- From the creators of… – We realized at PAX a lot of people didn’t know Zombie Vikings were made by us so the day before we went to Rezzed we went out and printed a large poster that said “From the creators of Stick it to The Man and SMBC” Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is a web comic by Zach Weinersmith who wrote the script to Zombie Vikings. He’s well known and putting his name on a poster attracted a lot of attention we would otherwise have not received.
- Bring enough people – Make sure you bring enough people. It was only Julius and me there and when doing interviews the stand was completely empty for some time. Also when talking to “big shots” you weren’t able to help out at the booth. Having just one more person (to share with Image & Form) would help a lot and really improve the quality of interviews and conversations with interesting people.
How much did all of this cost?
After we came back we ended up with these expenses detailed below. I haven’t included salaries and print materials (flyers + posters) because we only brought those that were left from PAX. The reason there is a PS4 controller listed is because we actually had two stolen the first night. We were lucky enough to get to borrow one from the lovely Gang Beasts people though.
|Booth / Stand||3009|
|Staff Food (Two persons)||737|
Was it worth it?
So, it’s been a couple of weeks since we came back from Rezzed. We’ve had time to reflect and analyze the outcome some. It’s hard to actually calculate financial return on conventions. If you look at the above cost which was $5300, if you were to calculate ROI (Return On Investment) our trip to Rezzed should generate roughly about 350 sold copies (at $15 each) to break even. Although 350 might sound a low number, can we actually track that going to Rezzed made 350 people so interested that they’ll go out and buy the game when it comes out? That is something we don’t know and can’t calculate. ROI on conventions is hard but I think you should look at conventions in a broader perspective.
A lot of people came up to me introducing themselves and asking if we had any job possibilities and a lot of people followed up on that with emails and LinkedIn requests. I think showing your game at conventions offer people a chance to meet the developers and get a chance to ask questions and to talk about themselves. I think this is a great way to meet new people and maybe we’ll meet our next level designer or a graphic artist at a convention?
Building the Zoink brand and networking
Just being present at the convention resulted in meeting hundreds of interesting people. Hopefully they thought I was nice person and they left the stand liking Zoink a little bit more. The convention is also filled with platform owners, press, business people and other people you normally only “meet” in emails. Now I got a chance to actually meet some people and that executive at that giant gaming company wasn’t at all scary – He was the nicest person ever and even gave me some exclusive merchandise! I also got a chance to meet a lot of people from Twitter, which was really nice.
Rezzed gave us some articles in media and a couple of YouTube videos. If you look at what was written and the response media really seemed to like the game. It’s hard to compare Rezzed to such major events like GDC and PAX in terms of the media coverage but we were happy with the outcome.
To sum things up
I think you shouldn’t measure conventions too much in numbers since it’s so hard to actually know how much copies it sells but instead focus on building relationship with fans, media and people working in the business. Meeting possible future employees, building brand awareness, meeting interesting people are all important factors in being successful and is hard to measure in financial terms but still extremely important. We had a great time meeting all the people at Rezzed and we would love to do it again! So to answer the question we began with – Is it worth going to conventions. In our opinion – YES.
Hope you liked this article. Drop us a comment or send us a tweet if you want to chat with us.
PR & Marketing Manager