Preparing for an online convention

Hello and welcome to one more blog post of Exposed: the game behind the scenes. Today we will be discussing how publishers prepare for the new 2020 trend, online conventions. Covid-19 has created several problems in the industry. The fact that we are not able to attend conventions, which have been for years a big source of income and other business for several publishers, is one of them. All major cons this year have been cancelled and instead they have created a new model: online conventions. How do publishers deal with them?

What online conventions are

With everything that’s happened in the industry until now, here at Mythic Games we have had the chance to participate in one online convention until now, Virtual Gaming Con, and we are currently preparing for Gen Con Online. We don’t have a huge experience in the online con field, and until now what we have seen is vastly different. 

From what we have gathered, each of the online conventions is trying to give the “feel” of the actual convention, only now they have to come up with ways to do it online. So what does a convention usually offer? A demo area and a sales area. Transferring your sales area online is usually easier, as most publishers have an eshop. However, creating an online demo area can be most challenging as it involves integration of games in digital platforms, a framework for booking seats, and so on. Other opportunities that arise in conventions involve networking and having business meetings. So this is another aspect that online conventions are trying to tackle. 

Different conventions handle things in a different way. For example, Virtual Gaming Con was mostly organized around a Discord server. Gen Con Online is creating an “online hall” where you have a promotional card that redirects to your website, promotional link and shows some images from your “virtual booth”. Events are scheduled around EST time zone, so they would cater mostly to the American audience. Essen Online is going to be round the clock, so basically publishers can schedule events at their “prime times”. So each online convention needs to be dealt with differently. 

How publishers prepare for online conventions

As described above, each of the conventions is very different. So first of all, we need to understand what are the opportunities that each of the conventions offers. Secondly, we need to transfer the “feel” of the actual convention from our side as well. So, making sure our hot games are uploaded on Tabletopia and/or Tabletop Simulator and are properly working is one of the first things we need to do.

Then we need to make sure that we will take full advantage of the “online” potential. In our case, that means voice chatting during the demos, so that they have more of a “live” feel. Also, livestreaming, if the opportunity is given. Technology these days can do wonders and you can keep gamers from all around the globe entertained with a streaming schedule. Of course, that needs not only time to organize it, but also other resources, such as streaming equipment and software.

Needless to say, this is offset by the material aspect of physical cons we don’t have to handle – less travel, less furniture renting, and no accommodation trouble whatsoever. However, it is a great way to keep your online booth visitors engaged. Lastly, we need to have conversions too, and we can usually rely on convention-exclusive bundles or coupons for our newsletter subscribers. Eshop sales are, after all, the equivalent to the booth sales. And although the cost of attending an online convention is much lower than attending a physical one, having sales is always a nice bonus.

That’s it for today! We hope that you enjoy the online conventions that are coming up, even though the usual interaction would be missing. 

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