Game conventions have been around for a long time and are a great opportunity for board game and role-playing game enthusiasts to discover many new and classic games. They also allow players to meet publishers and engage in conversations with them. But are these conventions truly beneficial for publishers?
In this article, we will explore various game conventions and question their value for the board and role-playing game publishers.
Several public game conventions have gained prominence and popularity within the gaming community. Here are some of the most notable ones:
Held annually in Indianapolis and often referred to as “The Best Four Days in Gaming”, Gen Con is one of the oldest, largest, and most influential tabletop gaming conventions in North America, featuring board games, role-playing games, card games, and more. With thousands of events, workshops, and exhibitors, it provides a vibrant showcase of the latest games and industry trends.
Spiel Messe (Essen)
Also known as Essen Spiel, this convention is the largest board game trade fair globally, attracting thousands of exhibitors and visitors each year. It’s an excellent opportunity for publishers to showcase their latest releases and prototypes. Spiel Messe attracts exhibitors and visitors worldwide and features a vast array of board games, card games, and role-playing games.
Festival International des Jeux de Cannes (Cannes, France)
This event is one of Europe’s major gaming conventions, with a massive exhibition hall featuring various games, from board games and role-playing games to miniatures and card games. Attracting a diverse audience of gamers, creators, and publishers, the festival provides a comprehensive snapshot of the industry.
Paris est Ludique
As a celebration of board games and role-playing games in the heart of Paris, this family-friendly gaming outdoor festival event emphasizes playfulness and social interaction. It features various game demonstrations, tournaments, and workshops for newcomers and seasoned players of all ages and skill levels.
Origins Game Fair
Held in Columbus, Ohio, this convention covers a wide range of tabletop gaming genres (board games, card games, role-playing games, and more) and offers numerous events, including game demonstrations, tournaments, and seminars.
UK Games Expo (Birmingham, United Kingdom)
The largest hobby game convention in the UK, featuring board games, card games, role-playing games, and miniatures. This event offers an opportunity for publishers to showcase their latest products, and visitors can participate in tournaments, workshops, and seminars.
PAX Unplugged (Philadelphia, United States)
A tabletop-focused extension of the popular PAX conventions, PAX Unplugged is dedicated exclusively to tabletop gaming. This event features new and classic board games, card games, and role-playing games, with an emphasis on providing an inclusive and welcoming environment.
Lucca Comics & Games (Lucca, Italy)
Held in the historic city of Lucca, this convention is one of Europe’s largest comic book, gaming, and fantasy events. It features a wide range of board games, role-playing games, card games, miniatures, comic books, cosplay, and other pop culture elements.
Tokyo Game Market (Tokyo, Japan)
A rapidly growing convention that focuses on showcasing board games, card games, and role-playing games from Japanese and international publishers. The event provides a platform for publishers to present their latest creations to a diverse and enthusiastic audience.
BoardGameGeek Con (BGG.Con) (Dallas, United States)
Organized by the popular board game community website BoardGameGeek, this convention offers an extensive library of games for attendees to play, as well as various events, panels, and tournaments.
Essential Professional Conventions
GAMA Trade Show
The GAMA Trade Show is an annual event organized by the Game Manufacturers Association. It gathers publishers, distributors, retailers, and manufacturers from the gaming industry for seminars, product presentations, and networking. The event focuses on board games, collectible card games, role-playing games, and miniature games. It focuses on the business side of the tabletop gaming industry, providing networking opportunities, educational seminars, and product showcases for professionals.
Nuremberg International Toy Fair
As one of the most important toy industry events, this fair in Nuremberg, Germany, focuses significantly on board games and role-playing games. It offers a platform for publishers to exhibit their products, network, and gain industry insights.
Cannes International Games Festival – Cannes, France: Although this festival mainly focuses on the general public, it also features a section dedicated to professionals. The Cannes International Games Festival is an annual event that brings together publishers, distributors, creators, and players from around the world to discover new releases and trends in the field of board games, card games, role-playing games, and video games.
New York Toy Fair – New York, USA
The New York Toy Fair is an annual event that brings together professionals from the toy and game industry. This event is an opportunity for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to showcase their new releases, exchange ideas, and form business partnerships. The New York Toy Fair features a wide range of products, from traditional toys to board games and educational games.
London Toy Fair – London, United Kingdom
The London Toy Fair is an annual professional event organized by the British Toy & Hobby Association. It gathers manufacturers, distributors, and retailers from the toy and game industry to showcase their products and discuss market trends. The fair presents various toys and games, including board games, card games, and educational games.
Tokyo Game Market – Tokyo, Japan
The Tokyo Game Market is an annual event that brings together publishers, creators, and distributors of board games from Japan and beyond. It allows professionals to showcase their new releases, share ideas, and establish business relationships. The Tokyo Game Market features a wide range of games, from board games to card games and role-playing games.
China Toy Expo – Shanghai, China
The China Toy Expo is Asia’s largest professional toy and game fair. It gathers industry manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to showcase their products and discuss market trends.
Why Some Publishers Don’t Attend or No Longer Attend
Some publishers might find the cost of attending game conventions to be prohibitive, especially smaller, independent publishers with limited budgets. Additionally, they may not see a direct return on investment from attending these events, as they may not lead to immediate sales or partnerships. Furthermore, some publishers may prefer to focus on digital marketing, social media, and online sales, as these strategies can be more cost-effective and provide a broader reach.
Why Some Publishers Never Miss Conventions or Have Started Returning
On the other hand, for other publishers, game conventions are an essential part of their marketing and sales strategies. These events offer the opportunity to network with distributors, retailers, and other industry professionals, helping to forge lasting partnerships. Additionally, conventions provide valuable face-to-face interactions with players, enabling publishers to receive direct feedback on their games, helping improve their products and better understand their target audience. Conventions can be essential for building relationships with customers, showcasing new products and gauging consumer interest. It’s also a great way to stay informed about industry trends.
The Impact of COVID-19 and the Recent Rebound
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the convention scene, with many events being canceled, postponed, or held virtually. However, as restrictions ease and in-person gatherings become safer, the gaming convention scene has experienced a rebound. Publishers have been eager to reconnect with their audience and showcase their latest offerings in a post-pandemic world.
In the end, gaming conventions offer numerous benefits to publishers, promoting their products and fostering relationships with the gaming community and industry professionals. However, it is also important to recognize that each publisher must evaluate the costs and benefits of participating in conventions based on their own circumstances and objectives.
Moving forward, gaming conventions should continue to play a significant role in the board game and role-playing game industry, offering opportunities for growth and development for publishers. Physical events can be complemented by virtual and online experiences to reach an even broader audience and adapt to future challenges and changes. Ultimately, publishers who balance the benefits of conventions and other marketing and sales strategies will be best positioned for success in this ever-evolving industry.
And there you have it. We hope this article has provided you with an insight into the usefulness of gaming conventions for publishers and how they influence the board game and role-playing game industry. We look forward to seeing you in our future articles and continuing to explore the exciting world of gaming together. Happy gaming!
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