I thought it'd be useful to make a cheat-sheet for convention showcasing for young developers. Past few years we exhibited at GDC/PAX South-East-Prime/Gamescom/EGX and many more. This specific post refers to showcasing at a consumer show or convention, and is specifically designed for an Indie Megabooth-style collaboration where you have a small booth alongside a series of other smaller booths. It becomes different when you scale up. Here's what it's like to build a large booth:
I'm writing this in prep for Gamescom specifically, where we are in the Indie Arena with SpeedRunners. Hope it helps!
1. Have a great showbuild You need to have a concentrated build of your game. It will be different from what you'll sell on Steam/ps4/xbox one -- it has to be a build that a person can play for 10 minutes, and get an idea of what your game is about.
By observing - not participating, you're learning how well your build does on its own, you're seeing what player intuitively try to do. Use this knowledge wisely! A good showbuild can mean a deal with Sony or Microsoft to be showcased at their booths.
Download our showbuild of SpeedRunners from here
2. Be friendly and open
If you're just sitting there and watching people play, with your back turned to the hallway, nobody will approach you.
If you're with a group, do not stand around chatting with yourselves, spread out and ask players about what they like seeing in the game, ask what they couldn't figure out, etc Remember, there is a ton of Youtubers walking around that area, and you should treat everyone equally because it might turn out that the one guy is big and will get you tons of coverage 3. Have a card-sized flier
Seriously, everyone will throw away your large fliers, don't even bother with those
4. Reward players for being at the show
If you see someone who is super engaged in your game, give him a card with a Steam Key. He will be good at the game, enjoy it, and tell all his friends about that game -- possibly become a moderator on your forum.
If anyone mentions "oh, it's a lost sale" -- I will personally slap that person. You're at a convention competing for attention from the most engaged gamers on the planet - reward them for being there and let them spread the word to less engaged gamers.
5. Make it interesting to participate!
I can't stress this one out enough. It's a show. It's an event. Make something interesting! It can be as simple as "best highscore wins this stupid hat". We're hosting SpeedRunners tournaments at all of our events, and giving out T-Shirts. It's very expensive, and requires a lot of coordination. But because of this we're now getting to host our finals on the twitch stage at the end of Wednesday and Thursday. Invest everything you make from your games back into these events, and it'll be worth your while.
Other things specifically for Gamescom
On the press front
We stopped bothering with pushing for press meetings at conventions. We'd rather have people follow us on twitter and become fans of our games, than to desperately try to get interviews.. Focus on getting hardcore fans of your brand, and your game - then those fans will tell their favorite youtubers/streamers to play your game, and you'll get sales.
Bonus video: how NOT to do PAX South, a full video log of doing a large scale convention with 5 people
Security at the booth?
Press kit thing?
I post general tips on our twitter constantly, so make sure to follow @tinyBuild