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

My experience of exhibiting at Rezzed 2013 UK

So… I’m back from the sunny climes of Birmingham UK. For those who don’t know much about Birmingham, here is an up to the minute guide:

But enough about Birmingham, what about the games show known as rezzed?

This was the first time I had ever attended a games show as an exhibitor. I’ve given talks before, but never had a booth and shown off games, either released or in development. My main concern has always been the shaky business case of paying thousands of pounds to hire a few square feet of space for two days. As an analytics boffin, I’m very wary of spending money without being able to quantify what I get for it. Anyway… I decided it was worth doing it properly or not at all, so we had a proper big 4 PC booth showing redshirt and democracy 3:


And despite our initial very English doom-and-gloom panic that we were the only strategy game in a sea of call of duty, and nobody would care, our booth was kinda swamped right from the start. It was *very* rare to find a moment of either of the two days where all 4 seats were not taken, sometimes with a small crowd around each player. Redshirt was a big attraction, and democracy 3 seemed to attract all kinds of gamers, young,old,male,female, which was very interesting.



As well as showing off the games, and getting to watch people play them, we also got to talk to a fair few people from the press, and of course hang out with a bunch of indies we know from previous events. I was busy enough that I only got to attend one of the developer sessions, which I guess is the downside of actually being an exhibitor. We had three people on our booth including me, and maybe we should have had more to free us up to actually walk around, or more importantly, sit down now and then!

We completely ran out of badges, and almost ran out of flyers for both games. People really like game show swag! So anyway… the big question is, was it worth it, and would I do it again? I think the answer is ‘probably yes’. These things are expensive. yes it’s cool that you meet real gamers who play your games, but the gamers are charged for entering the show, and you get charged for providing the games they come to see…seems a little cunning to me. I am in the wrong business clearly… I think if the costs of exhibiting were much higher I’d say it isn’t worth it, given the opportunity cost that the money could also buy a lot of advertising or artwork/promotion in other ways.

I think it’s probably very good to do shows when your game is approaching beta and close to release (as both ours are), but earlier in dev, or attending every show for an already released game? It’s a really tough call. Obviously it also depends on your company’s balance sheet! I saw some indies still fighting to get picked on greenlight, with their first game, and I wonder where they get the money together for an appearance at a games show. Still… there is no right answer for this stuff, everyone has their own strategy. Anyway…back to work…

4 thoughts on My experience of exhibiting at Rezzed 2013 UK

  1. I was there as a first time indie in the Leftfield collection. I’m not sure if you’re aware that the Leftfield is free, however you have to not have a publisher and get selected to be in the show. That being said I barely got to see any of the expo so no idea how many indies there were outside of the Leftfield corridor.

  2. I guess you’ll see the impact on your website’s analytics over the next few days. I can imagine that won’t compare with advertising spikes, but seeing a game in person and sitting down to play it is a much more powerful advert.

    We spoke briefly on Saturday about booth prices and the apparent haggling, I’ve mentioned the high prices in the show’s feedback form and suggested they could have a cheaper option for small indies, as an individual it was just way out of my league. Perhaps there’s room on the calendar for another show specialising in lone-indie-devs that doesn’t charge the public to come and play our games…

  3. It was good to talk to you in person at the show and to see the two games with my own eyes. People were really getting into those policy decisions :)

    In terms of the event itself, I was a little disappointed. It gave the impression of essentially being a handful of unrelated people thrown together in a space. I know that that’s exactly what it was, but there was something missing. Maybe if they had more exhibitors (this links to your complaint about costs), coordinated events, or a larger physical games section to add some variety?

    Not booth babes though. Oh god, not booth babes. I was at the London International Technology Show in 2011 and they had some there (I forget which company). They seemed so out of place. And then another company retaliated with male ones and things just went downhill from there.

  4. I agree that there definitely should be some scope between starving indies who can only appear at a free booth, and indies with thousands of pounds to spend. There are probably a ton of indies in that gap.
    It was kinda funny how the attention of gamers seemed to be focused much more on the indie games than the handful of AAA games. I guess most AAA PC games are shoddy console ports these days anyway :D

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