Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.

Nathan

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to Show Your Game at a Non-Gaming Expo

In addition to the big shows like PAX and GDC, Mommy's Best Games has shown our games at some very small events. Comic Cons, Pinball Expos, Table-Top shows, Coding events, you may have some of these different events in your area that might let you show games there. In fact, this weekend is the Louisville Arcade Expo, a very fun show we've been showing at for several years.
With that in mind, here are some tips for showing at an event that *does not* feature recently-made video games as the main attraction!

My lovely wife showing our iOS game "Finger Derpy" at the KY Science Center

Free Play

The games are free to try out! You're offering free demos!
You know that, but for the general public tugging their kids through the busy show, everything else is vendor tables. And vendor tables means *things cost money*. It's weird in their minds to come across a booth that let's you play games for free. Some people don't know this. The easiest thing we've found, in addition to simply saying the games are free play, is putting up a simple  'FREE PLAY" sign on a sheet of paper. Obviously, you can get fancier than that if you want.
(If your expo is organized enough to have all the indie games together, clearly marked, you may not need this, so that's cool! )

Non-Gamers

Be nice when showing your game, and understand lots of people there are probably not 'hardcore' and may possibly be put off by your game. Don't take it personally about your game--you are simply getting a very large slice of the general public at non-gaming shows.
Don't be surprised if you get some kids playing, but the Mom or Dad does not want to play. If you have chairs, offer them a seat while the kids play and they may be more interested in your game!


A family getting into our Steam game "Shoot 1UP" at the Louisville Mini-Maker Fair

Xbox 360 guide button

If you use Xbox 360 controllers and have Steam running, and a user accidentally holds the Guide button it will stop your game and bring up Big Picture mode. This is really annoying.
Users are having a blast with your game, but may be so enamored that they don't notice they are holding the wrong button to do something. It may seem obvious "Just don't hold that button" but for some reason Valve has not released a simple option to disable BP mode for the Guide button.

The easiest fix is to not have Steam running. Have a DRM-free version of your game without running Steam. There are also Steam community threads in which people are trying to figure out workarounds to it.

Locally-Made, Recently-Made

A lot of regular folks are still coming around to the idea that video games are being made in their own backyard! They may be pretty surprised to learn that you are developing games there. Take some time to explain the cool thing to them and if they express interest in game development, mention your local development support group! Here in Louisville, it's Louisville Makes Games.

The other thing we've noticed is a lot of these shows will have Super Smash Bros or Mario Kart or some other tournament running at the event. That's some tough competition to show your game against! The important thing is to communicate that you are personally making the game they are playing now, and it was made recently--not by a huge, well-funded company (such as Nintendo).

The MBG booth at the Louisville Arcade Expo 2015, with our upcoming "Pig Eat Ball".

Expo Experience

Most of the regular expo moves still apply here. For example, if you want people to remember your game's name tomorrow, print cards and hand them out! You can get 500 custom cards for under $20 at GotPrint, or basically for free if you print them on a 8.5"x11" sheet and cut out a few dozen by hand (or on stock paper). Remember to mention your release date and platform if you have one. And of course take extra cords, connectors, monitors, tape, sanitizer, drinks, signs, snacks, and controllers for backup and any other booths that need help!

2 comments:

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