The fourth Eurogamer Expo drew record crowds and nabbed big game exclusives. We speak to MD Rupert Loman and publishers about the show’s rapid growth.
For years companies have struggled to get an annual consumer video games show up and running in the UK.
Yes, the European Computer Trade Show was once the industry’s shining beacon for expos, but that was technically a trade event with consumers forced to play outside.
In the years following the demise of ECTS, several firms have tried to develop a big annual event for gamers, including Game Stars Live and Play.com Live.
Although they all put on a good show, none have managed to survive, let alone grow.
But that all changed in 2008, when Eurogamer decided to take the plunge with a London-based consumer event that has today become an essential annual visit for core gamers.
“We built this show from a gamer’s perspective,” Eurogamer MD Rupert Loman tells MCV.
“I think that’s a really important differentiator between us and the other shows. There are no closed booths here, everyone can get access to the games and everything is playable.
“We also make sure we get all the big games for this year and next. We’ve got some amazing exclusives like Counter Strike: Global Offensive and The Elder Scrolls V:?Skyrim which could be played for the first time in Europe at our show.
"We’re a gamer-led community show. It’s not too oppressive or loud – it’s supposed to be fun.”
Eurogamer Expo 2011 also acted as the launch for on-demand cloud gaming service OnLive. The company gave away free microconsoles at the show to generate excitement around its UK?launch. BioWare also announced a long-awaited December 22nd UK?release date for its PC MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic.
It’s not only a game show
The 2011 Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court was the biggest show in the Expo’s history.
Attendance figures rose from 20,000 visitors last year to 34,500 this year, with over 100 games present on the show floor. More than 20 companies were present, including publishers and other firms such as headset manufacturer Turtle Beach and retailer HMV. Not only could gamers get hands-on with certain games first, they could also chat to developers, take part in cosplay dress-up competitions and visit a career fair to find out how to get a job in the industry.
The show’s after-party for media and industry professionals also raised a staggering £10,150 for charity body GamesAid.
“We’ve gone beyond just having the games to play, the gaming culture side of things has really ramped up,” adds Loman. “It’s absolutely been a hell of a success. We sold out of tickets in advance, we’ve just had incredible feedback, and publishers are taking it much more seriously now and as a result they’re reaping the rewards.
“I’ve spoken to most of the exhibitors at the show and everyone’s delighted and we’re already in the planning for next year’s show.”
The 2012 Eurogamer Expo kicks off on September 27th next year and will run until September 30th. It will again take place at Earls Court.
“We’re growing in terms of floor space and capacity and features at the show,” says Loman. “It’s full steam ahead.”
Of course, the Expo is just one part of Eurogamer’s business, which has a number of partner sites from Rock, Paper, Shotgun to VG247 and Nintendo Life. The firm just acquired web content publisher Hammersuit and its sites such as Industry Gamers and mobile reviews outlet Modojo. But that’s a different story.
For now, Eurogamer will be relishing in its best Expo to date – and don’t take our word for it – see below for what the publishers thought.
The publishers' point of view
UK Marketing Director, Namco Bandai
“Eurogamer Expo was superb. It was a great show, nicely laid out, with great attendance and it was good to see a focus on the games and the people that make them. I personally love spending time talking to consumers and hearing their opinions. The benefit for Namco Bandai is that we can get hands-on with our titles and have the stress of stand-building taken away from us. Eurogamer organises the gaming areas and equipment and we organise our titles and work the show.”
Product Manager, Battlefield 3, EA
“From a Battlefield 3 perspective, the Expo was a fantastic show for us. We were constantly busy across all four days with all 72 stations filled. We also had our dog tag machine for those that had pre-ordered and people queued patiently to get their own personalised set. We look forward to going back next year and supporting the show as it goes from strength to strength.”
UK PR Manager,Square Enix
“It is a joy to have such a show in the UK – a gaming event for gamers. This country absolutely needs a show like this to give the industry the chance showcase all the great products our consumers can look forward to and not just read about. For us it was a wonderful chance to give fans the first hands-on play in Europe of a new Final Fantasy XIII-2 build, and present Hitman: Absolution behind closed doors, which went down an absolute storm.”
Media Manager, Lygo International
“We supplied over 600 headsets to Eurogamer and publishers for the 2011 Expo. This gave the consumer the perfect chance to use one and is already proving to be a really successful piece of product marketing. We were really pleased with what we managed to achieve at both GAMEfest and the Eurogamer Expo. It took a lot of hard work to get everyone using our kit but it was worth it.”
European Director of Corporate Communications, NCsoft
“It’s fantastic to see the Eurogamer Expo growing from strength to strength. They’ve succeeded where others have failed, pulling together a phenomenal consumer show that, by putting the gamer first, has given British players a great opportunity to play. The growth of off-shoot events, such as the GamesAid industry parties and NCsoft’s own MMOBarPG evening, ensures the Eurogamer Expo continues to bloom.”
Director of Strategic Relations, OnLive
“The Eurogamer Expo was a perfect mix of press, influencers and every conceivable level of gaming enthusiast. As a UK launch venue for OnLive it simply couldn’t have been better. We know from experience that the best way to get people excited about OnLive is to put a controller in their hands and let them try it out for themselves. The buzz generated by the giveaways and demos was phenomenal.”
Eurogamer Expo 2011: In numbers
The number of attendees
Only a small proportion of Expo visitors attended GAMEfest as well
The majority of visitors said they’d recommend the show and come back in the future
Almost half of the attendees said Sony was the platform holder they were most impressed with at the Expo
Skyrim was the highest-rated game by visitors, out of a maximum score of five
A large chunk of attendees travelled over 50 miles to the show