Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Look! Naked Booth Babes!!!!!!

It’s sad isn’t it, that this is probably one of the most cost-effective ways to get attention to your game. In my dreams, I’d love to  exist in a world where the only PR that was necessary was to send videos, screenshots (real ones, not ‘target renders’) and playable demo copies to journalists, and then let the public and the critics pick the best games on their merits.

But it is not.

I could get 100,000 people to come to my site tomorrow. It’s easy. You just take out your checkbook and pay the money to google adwords, or yahoo search marketing etc. It’s a done deal, it’s easy. Of course, it may not be cost effective. And this is where it gets murky.

I am currently investigating the pros and cons of flash game sponsorship as an alternative to traditional banner-ad promotion, which I have toned down a lot for the last 2 months. So far, I think I like it, even though I had one profitable sponsorship, and one relatively disastrous one.  What I’m thinking about now, is actual physical promotion at events such as trade shows. They vary widely. I’ve been looking at how many people come to these shows, the cost of hiring a booth, and a monitor and PC, the travel costs to and from for me and probably at least one other person. Overnight accommodation etc…

And rapidly it becomes very very expensive. I’ve heard quotes of $200 to ‘hire’ power cables at your booth for 2 days. Are you fucking kidding me? Yes…it costs money to rent a big hall and promote a show, but lets live in the real world for a moment. Do we really want an industry where the only games that get press attention are the ones that set aside $30,000 for trade show expenses? This is insane. That $30k doesn’t make the games any better.

I’m pretty sure a business case could be made for me going to some agency, hiring a few bikini-models with huge chests and long blonde hair, giving them ‘Gratuitous Tank Battles’ T shirts, and sticking them on a booth for 2 days to pout at journalists. The thing is, I’d feel like I was just cheapening the industry I like, and wasting money that could have gone on music, sound effects or art. Can you imagine ‘booth babes’ at a literary festival? Do they have them at Cannes? (I really have no idea).

I don’t think I’ll be hiring booth babes any time soon. I’m sure eventually there will be some cheaper, less tacky indie-focused events for me to promote my games at.

14 thoughts on Look! Naked Booth Babes!!!!!!

  1. You should also consider the quality of the attention drawn. You might get attention with booth babes, but are you getting attention for your game or for the booth babes?

    Just bring a f**king tank to a trade show! :D

  2. Driving to the tradeshow in a tank would make me pre-order your game on the spot. Possibly multiple copies :D

    Agreed with the booth babes though. I popped down to LITS in London last year (not worth the ticket cost btw) and of course there were booth babes present. Not even slightly classy, not at all. I was amused that one company decided to balance it out by having men walking around in speedos, but in reality I think the tone of the whole show was lowered substantially. Not a show I will be returning to I think…

  3. They don’t have them at Cannes. But on the other hand the week after Cannes film festival is the international porn festival, where I’m sure they more than make up for it.

  4. Two hundred dollars for electricity is typical. Don’t think you can get a wall booth and just plug in – they will bill you.

    Do take a second person, working a booth on your own is exhausting and unpleasant.

    Take the minimum you need to present in your carryon. Twice none of my gear showed up until after I returned home. I did a presentation in Cleveland in front of 200 people in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and surf shorts I bought in Target after getting off the plane. I have printed new brochures in Halifax from PDF’s on the website in Kinko’s.

    Don’t use full size PC’s. The airline will kill them. You will have to disassemble and reassemble each one when you arrive to reseat all the connectors. One the airline dropped from the cargo hold to the tarmac, sheared off every screw in the case.

    Take a laptop and buy a display (same price as renting) then ship it home after the show. Or take a projector and screen.

    The $3K for a popup background is worth it. Anything else will fail or be too annoying to use. Something like this:

    Get a cheaper hotel and rent a car – the convenience for shopping and eating far outweighs a room that has a hot tub.

  5. If it was me, I’d try to put together some kind of “Indie Games Booth” and split the costs with a couple of others. Of course you may not always be able to find others, but when you do, it can work out.

  6. Cliff,

    I’d have to agree with you. All of that money is just being pissed right out the window, for absolutely no good reason. It’s a shame really, when you think of all the good indie developers have done for the industry – without the need to hose down big breasted bikini babes in order to actually show off good games.

    I’m very fond of beautiful women and enjoy looking at them, taking in the eye candy from time to time (I’m married, not blind).

    The industry however (the big name publishers and event coordinators) really need to grow the hell up. All of that wasted money could be used in a much more beneficial way… perhaps lowering the price of friggin mainstream games for one. Wasteful, absolutely wasteful.

    Ugh… It’s an annoying situation, but until something happens that actually shakes up the industry and these marketing people that work within the industry for these big publishing and distributing companies, I don’t think it’ll change any time soon.

  7. Cliff, yeah it’s a bad idea to just use naked ladies to promote your game and stand.. But you do say you need a hand.. So, if you’re going to have them running around the stand all day, then I’m up for helping you lug equipment around so i can ogle all day :-)

  8. There are two different things going on here, right? The first thing is that gaining attention is difficult and expensive; a full time job, really. That’s annoying. You’re an engineer. You try to avoid that stuff as much as possible. You wish it would just go away, and you’d like to take the easy way out. But that brings us to the second thing: The easy way out, which is copying what other game companies do, is often tacky at best (and not necessarily fitted to the budget of a smaller company).

    You can’t get past the need to gain attention. It’s always going to take a disturbingly large percentage of the money and/or creativity that goes into a game product (it’s not a product until it’s in their sweaty little hands). Once you realize that, you are free to think about who your audience is (thirteen year old males, or grandmothers who like tanks?), and the fact that novelty is even more attention-grabbing than boobies (especially if boobies are not as novel to your audience as they are to the average thirteen year old male). When you make your peace with getting attention, you are free to get attention as yourself instead of copying someone else. You might start thinking about how to make sure the press will be there when you drive up in a tank, rather than wondering how to afford booth babes. I think your first commenter Christian Knudsen has great instincts here (my random opinion; I’m not a PR person), but stunts can be wasted if you aren’t careful to make sure the right people are looking in the right direction at the right time. Because that’s the whole game.

    Are boobies lazy? Yes. Are they tacky and puerile? Of course. But the core audience for most video games is the notoriously tacky and puerile thirteen year old male, so I bet it works a lot better than you might want to believe. They are interested in boobies whether you like it or not; would you rather they spent more time with their girlfriends? Not if you’re trying to sell them video games. You want them looking at your boobies, not their boobies, if you see what I mean. It’s the whole know your audience thing. The more you can understand about how you fit into their whole experience, the better off you will be.

    Terrible, isn’t it. I know. I hate people too. Most of them have no taste at all. But some of them pony up cold hard cash for bits they probably know how to pirate, so maybe they are worth getting to know a little bit. Just a little bit. Preferably from a distance.

    I’m sure you know all this, but I felt like spelling it out for the newbies who read the comments on your blog (OK, myself). Keep up the good work, mang.

  9. Well if you need a hand let me know.

    I can write notes, send out copies, and info to who ever you wish.

    I was an Engineer now after a car wreck and broken back, not much I can do outside the home, and those Work at Home scams are what folks like me call hope killers.

    Contact me if you need some one to help with sending out press stuff and trying to find ways to get your game to be seen by more folks.

    I work cheap :)


  10. You don’t need booth babes or to even go to events/shows. If you just release your game on steam it will get all the publicity it needs just by people seeing, buying, playing, and telling their friends about it. Also don’t forget whether you like it or not you game will be pirated and that is huge publicity for a game. Especially when it’s an indie game being pirated, people end up buying it a lot more simply because people respect indie developers over large corporations and want to support the developer so they continue making great games.

    Anyway, I honestly think you don’t need any publicity as I already know a ton of people who are sitting on their hands waiting to buy this game including myself.

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