Five Factors Of Running A Video Game Trade Show

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

It’s official – Gaming has gone mainstream. These days, it’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t played at least one game. With gaming’s popularity has come a lot more game-industry events, conferences, and trade shows  – all being covered by mainstream media.

If you’re in event management you may be thinking about opportunities in this growing space. There’s a lot that goes into making a trade show successful – and gaming trade show is no exception.

Here are a five factors to take into account when running a video game trade show.

Does your event focus on players or developers?

This question is vital, and one you need to answer before you plan anything. Are you focusing on the end user or the game developer, the consumer or the publisher? Your target audience impacts every decision from your keynote topics, to vendors, to activities. Consumers may want mini tournaments while developers want to meet a young crop of programs.

Hint: if you focus on publishers choose between AAA gaming (published) and Indie gaming (self-published). Their needs are different; catering to both you’ll dilute your results.

What specific angle of gaming is your event addressing?

Once you’ve identified who your audience is, the next step is to nail down why you’re hosting an event. The games industry is actually complicated, segmented and nuanced. The more clearly you’re able to state why your hosting an event, the easier everything else becomes to decide.

  • Are you providing independent mobile developers a forum in which to market their games to the player? Then invite players.
  • Is your show designed to help developers hook up with the right publisher to release their titles? Ok, then you need publishers and the vendors that support that segment of the industry.
  • Are you looking to showcase the latest in virtual reality or fighting games? A tournament structure might do this really well.

Like any event, you need an angle and an end goal.

Do you know how to run a tournament?

If you’re running a video game event or trade show of any type, research gaming tournaments. Being able to play and compete has become a big part of gaming events. Depending on what your focus is, attendees might be expecting this activity.

Tip: our post on how to run a gaming tournament offers simple, actionable suggestions to follow if running your first event.

How political do you want to be?

Gaming’s no stranger to controversy. It seems like every other day, violent video games are having terribly tragedy connected to their influence. True or not, responsible or not, it’s a conversation you can’t ignore. On top of that, everyone has an opinion on the hot issue of gender and orientation in games. You can’t avoid the discussion, but you may actually decide to introduce a political bent to your trade show, a keynote on the topic for example. The question, of course, is whether or not courting the topic is worth your while, is of interest to your guests, and offers value toward what your event promises to deliver – and that’s something only you can answer.

How much technical knowledge do you possess?

Lastly, you absolutely need someone on your team who’s got a working knowledge of video game hardware and software (assuming you don’t have it yourself.) Gaming conferences are a lot like technology trade shows, in that there tends to be a great deal of (usually very expensive) equipment floating around.  Make sure you’re capable of managing it.

Get into the game, but know what’s in store for you.