The attendance at Arsenal’s top of the table Premiership clash with Manchester Utd last weekend was 60,106 – but that number was dwarfed by another major London event taking place a little further south.
Electronic Arts’ Be The One event once again proved a real jewel in the crown of London Games Festival, as the publisher ‘took over’ Trafalgar Square for two days.
There was no giant Homer Simpson this year (shame), but the centrepiece of the gargantuan construction, EA’s BattleDome, was a true giant.
“It looked really stunning,” explains EA’s VP of UK & Ireland and Nordic territories Keith Ramsdale.
“We packed the event with more than 150 gaming machines. There was something for everyone and that reflected well with a really broad audience.”
EA had to put up with some pretty dismal weather, but still managed to draw in a massive crowd – testament both to the eye-catching nature of the setup and the growing mainstream acceptance of gaming in general.
“We just wanted to ensure that anyone from the hardcore game fan to the mum, dad or novice had something they could try out and get stuck into,” add Ramsdale. “The game pods were packed all day – in spite of everything the weather threw at us. We had visitors from all over the country and some who'd come back to the event having attended last year.”
Attendance was nearly double what EA pulled in during the same event in 2007 – a rich reward for the amount of promotion EA put into the showcase.
“We had some great media partners on board this year with both XFM and Choice promoting the event in advance and broadcasting live from the event,” explains Ramsdale. “There will be more coverage appearing on the event in the coming weeks. We had IGN on board doing a fantastic US vs UK contest on all the EA Sports titles and other media partners such as BBC Magazines on some of our casual titles.
“You really get the feeling there is a tangible momentum building and solid foundations to grow the event further next year. It’s absolutely right that the games industry gets behind this festival and makes a massive noise right at the start of peak selling period about everything the industry does so well. I’ve been really impressed with all the media reaction.”
Of course, booking Trafalgar Square is a little harsher on the wallet than paying for a room in a hotel. But even with the giant cost involved, EA is certain the exposure that it achieved was worth it.
Every single game in of EA’s 25-strong line up for Q4 was shown off (except the 18-rated Dead Space) to a broad audience – boosted by the school half-term holiday.
“Trafalgar Square is a stunning location and it's absolutely right that games can take centre stage there,” concludes Ramsdale.
“On top of that with dedicated TV, radio and online output from the event, it generates a lot more content than just the 64,000 ‘bums on seats’ that attend it. I’d like to think that everyone that attended had a great time and that they'll come again next year.
“What’s great is that this year’s Be The One event was already attracting other brands into the gaming space. We were very pleased to work with Coke Zero, BE Broadband and DELL, all of whom were great partners for us at the event.”
“We expect to attract more partners at future events and we're already in conversations with several brands. Interactive entertainment, EA's world renowned franchises and an event such as Be The One are very powerful and attractive propositions for brands that want to connect with our audiences.”