This is Part 2 of our PAX East post-mortem-ish series aimed to help developers get the most out of, and the most attention, from conventions such as PAX.
Throughout my years of attending PAX, whether it be to cover games for various media outlets or working PR for Developers and friends, I’ve always walked away from the convention with a list of do’s and don’t for next year. This year, since I focused largely on game development and discoverability, I thought it would be useful to share a few things I’ve learned in an effort to help developers get the most out of their time, and game, at such conventions (notably the various PAX events).
3. Show up during Press Hour
In the last few years I’ve come across indie developers who believe “The media never pays attention to us Indies during PAX early access, so it’s not worth showing up for Press Hour.”
This is quite false, and for the most part, borderline ridiculous. Sadly, every year I watch developers blow opportunities as several journalists mill around empty booths devoid of presenters or anyone to simply turn a monitor on. Fun fact: one year I spent half my media hour demoing a game for another journalist because the developer, whom I knew, was late to the show and I didn’t want them to miss an opportunity.
Furthermore, while queuing for the PAX East media line, I overheard several outlets mention, “I’m heading straight to the Indie Megabooth to see (insert game here)”, and immediately bolt towards the section as soon as doors open. If you’re in the PAX 10 (or whatever politically correct name it’s assigned each con), you better show, as nearly every gaming outlet does an article on the selected Indies.
Oh, and this year’s placement of the Indie Megabooth pretty much required all media types and con attendees to walk through it on their way to the big AAA titles. So yeah, plenty of opportunities to snag an underpaid, over-caffeinated, games journalist. (Props to the Megabooth for placement, btw. /respect)
It’s apparent now, especially since the console war hype is dying down, that finding that diamond in the rough, that “indie darling” could easily be a traffic-driving scoop for a lot of outlets. They’re looking on it. They’re looking for that 400% to goal Kickstarter or Cinderella story, so why not be available for it?
Of course there’s the simple logic that you’ve already spent hours upon hours working on your game, perhaps haven’t even slept for the previous week due to prepping a playable demo, so what’s one more hour? One hour that could easily provide the media attention you need to get more Greenlight votes, backers, or buyers.
Worst-case scenario, you spent an hour nursing that rookie hangover and downing coffee by yourself.
4. Hit up the Media / Press room (aka: the Secret Lair)
Fun Fact: I’ve purchased titles and/or visited booths every year because they dropped flyers off at the Media/Press room.
Sad Fact: Nobody did that this year at PAX East. My money went towards a cheap, and quite regrettable, taco salad.
It’s true that the Media / Press room often gets shoveled off into the dark recesses of the convention center, but for the most part, it’s in the exact same spot every year. (PAX East: Room 211. PAX Prime: Room 202-203 in the Conference Annex) Take 10 mins and swing by with a stack of flyers or Steam codes and speak with “Mom” (she’s the Enforcer Overlord of the Media Room and runs a tight ship). Let her know you’re a Developer and you would like to leave some flyers for the Media people she babysits all weekend. BAM! Secret area unlocked.
It may seem like the equivalent of walking into the lion’s den, but it’s almost too easy and too often overlooked.
Check back soon for more semi-common sense logic cleverly disguised as oracle-like, mystical advice.