Updated: May 15, 2019
I'm currently writing this from a nice little café in Berlin (though posting it much later). Turns out Berlin is an extremely affordable vacation. Well, you know, relatively speaking. It is less expensive for us to come here for 20 days than staying in Boston for 7 days (excluding convention costs). Make your European trip dreams come true!
Anyway, on to the con! We always find our business-to-business relations go up when we go to TwitchCon specifically. It feels far more productive in that way than PAX does. Maybe because it isn't so focused on games and many big peripheral companies go. We were actually one of about 6 or less games being demoed at the con. World of Tanks and Sea of Thieves were the only AAA games and then there were 3 indie booths. Of course, Apex and Fortnite had a presence, but only as partners to other booths.
Twitch is really excited about our game and we had some great brainstorming sessions with multiple people from their company. From events to extensions, we have some really cool stuff in the works with them. We also made friends with some of the peripherals people there and maybe we'll see that blossom into something in the game or elsewhere. I know this doesn't seem like much, but I am holding back certain exciting details. Can't give it all away. We love Twitch and everything they do.
But alas, not everything can go right. We learned a lot about cons at this one. It's smallness brought some interesting challenges and we really got see where our weak spots were with our booth designs.
What did we do wrong?
Visibility. We couldn't really get a TV set up in our booth to show the game. We usually buy one and give it away after (shipping tvs is expensive), but TVs in Europe are WAY more expensive, so it became a huge cost issue for us on top of the booth expenses. I think this was a pretty important flaw with our booth, especially since the gameplay adds a lot of color to our otherwise very brown (cardboard) booth.
Bribery. The booth next to us, showing off Lonely Mountains: Downhill (great game btw), was very successful here. They had lines for their booth the entire time. I attribute a chunk of that to the quality of their game, but I attribute more to the fact that they bribed people to play it. They gave out posters to people who played and t-shirts to people who played without crashing. Something we had no idea was so important was how badly people wanted free stuff at this con. I've never in my life had more people ask us for free stuff than at TwitchCon Europe. Someone even tried to steal one of our jerseys right from under our nose. It was wild.
Gatekeeping. It's taken me a while to realize this, but people generally don't want to talk to us and our jerseys make it really obvious we are devs (whereas Downhill had shirts on that allowed them to blend in more). I should've known that because I wouldn't want to talk to me either. I prefer to jump in, play, and leave. If I have to talk to the dev to play, most times I will pass on the game. This isn't as much of an issue at bigger cons, but really hurt us here where people were few and far between. I will be redesigning all future booths to tuck us away, so you all can come in at your leisure and we'll hand you info on the way out.
First minigame. Ugh, it's just too hard. People can't do DDR and a balance game simultaneously. 90% abandoned the balance minigame just to do the rhythm minigame and got low scores because of it. I'm gonna change that to be simpler or just cut it entirely. Rhythm game will get easier too.
What did we do right?
Cut the Prologue. The short demo from PAX East was too enticing to people and we wanted to show off the first episode, so that's all we showed and it worked. That episode is objectively stronger and it grabbed more people's attention.
Pizza Game. This is in a good spot. People are getting their butts kicked, but about 60-70% passed. I'm going to add a 3rd tutorial pizza so people can practice multitasking more, but other than that, it's solid. We had a lot of people say they enjoyed the pizza game even though they got stressed, including a Domino's Pizza manager.
Cardboard booth. This was a hit again. Many people came up to us saying it was their favorite booth here and the dichotomy of the fancy $100k+ booths next to ours was hilarious.
Great booth location. We had one of the best spots in the convention hall, right next to the main entrance. That helped with visible awareness of our brand, but it also made our booth a bit more daunting to approach because of all the extra room around us. It wasn't homey feeling. Awareness was all we wanted, though, and I think we achieved that.
That's all for TwitchCon. I'm still debating whether or not we'll do it next year. It was pretty small and we did pay almost as much for it as TwitchCon NA (and they have like 10x the attendance), so maybe we'll wait for it to get bigger.
In unrelated news, we will be canceling our Dreamhack booth because Echo Star won't be quite ready enough. We'll be doing some private playtesting sessions (stay tuned for signups on that), but I don't want to stress myself and the team out with trying to hit the deadline of Dreamhack when Echo Star still needs a significant amount of work. It's possible we can hit it, but it wouldn't be a fun month. We'll exhibit in Texas 2020, or maybe Atlanta 2019, though.
The next major, planned convention will be PAX West, so we'll see you around!
John "Darknuke" Getty
Executive Producer & Lead Game Designer