Retail giant GAME defied its critics and put on its first, and successful, consumer event last week.
GAMEfest attracted some 30,000 visitors to Birmingham NEC, with huge stands and long queues for titles such as F1 2011, Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3.It comes following criticism from major publishers over the event’s close proximity to Eurogamer Expo.
Leading industry bosses told MCV earlier this year that they faced an ‘impossible choice’ over which show to back, and that supporting both would be a ‘huge burden’ logistically and financially.
Eurogamer’s boss Rupert Loman expressed his disappointment in GAME’s attempt to ‘split the market.’
But now the pressure is back on Eurogamer to ensure its event goes off without a hitch at Earls Court this weekend (September 22nd to 25th).
However with some days already sold out, it looks like the London event has little to worry about, having also attracted big name publisher support – something GAME?was particularly pleased with.
“What pleasantly surprised us is the support we got from publishers,” said GAME UK marketing director Anna-Marie Mason.
“It is a change of thinking for them. Us coming to the table with something new might have been a leap of faith for some. They have got behind us. And you can tell from the show they have put a lot of time and energy and investment into this. We got everybody we wanted.
"Eurogamer is a great show, it is established, and reaches out to a specific type of person. Some of which crosses over with GAME. But we are a retailer. It’s a different proposition. You see families. You see pushchairs. Even the way the show looks is different so the two shows co-exist nicely.”
GAME’s head of UK communications Neil Ashurst added: “It is a different show. It is in a different location. We have been to Eurogamer Expo and we know the kind of people that are going there. And although there is some cross-over, there is a wider offering at GAMEfest. There is room for both of us in the space.”
In contrast to Eurogamer, GAMEfest looked like a mini-Gamescom with its emphasis on theatre, queues and marketing. It certainly did a great job in driving demand, but not everyone agrees that creating long queues is the best way forward.
“For years I’ve always moaned about why there has not been a decent consumer show in the UK,” said Namco Bandai’s UK marketing director Lee Kirton.
“Eurogamer has stepped up to the plate and done it in a cost-effective way. At GAMEfest we are building stands, creating the sort of things you would get at a small E3 or Gamescom. It looks great and GAME should have been doing this years ago.
“But the most important thing is that people get to play the game. Sometimes these things don’t need to be all about razzle dazzle and the banners and the boards and the posters, and more about getting people to play the games.”