The gaming industry has developed rapidly over the last two decades, as gaming has become less of a niche hobby and more of a pastime enjoyed by a wide variety of people of all ages. With new tech like virtual reality and mobile gaming, that growth has taken off in a big way. As the industry has expanded and matured, gaming and tech conferences have too. Now industry professionals have several different video game events they can attend every year, providing even more opportunities for exhibitors.
While B2C gaming events are aimed primarily at gamers and other consumers, the B2B events below are attended by industry professionals, including programmers and developers, artists, publishers and distributers, marketing and advertising professionals, and others.
1. Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3®)
Organized each year by The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is the biggest event of its kind in the U.S., with over 66,000 in attendance in 2019. This event is where it all happens in the video game industry—where top studios such as Blizzard®, Sony, and Nintendo® showcase their newest games and content and, often, where the year’s biggest industry announcements are made.
In 2020 the ESA first announced that E3 would go virtual, but these plans were quickly scrapped, and the event was canceled altogether. Instead, E3 has been using its website to promote company announcements and showcases over the course of the year.
In 2021 E3 is scheduled to run from June 15 to 17. But apart from a statement that the 2021 event would see E3 “reimagined,” there is as yet little information about what plans the ESA has in store for this wildly popular event.
E3 is attended by a wide range of people, both in the gaming industry and in peripheral sectors. Attendees include:
- Software developers
- Game programmers and designers
- Distributors, buyers, and retailers
- Importers and exporters
- Financiers and venture capitalists
- Financial and industry analysts
- Researchers and educators
And both the media and the entertainment industry are well-represented.
For exhibitors, opportunity abounds. There’s always lots of interest in emerging companies and new products and tech at this event. With E3’s reputation for being the place to launch something new, even young brands can do well here if they have something great to offer.
LEARN MORE: https://www.e3expo.com/
2. Game Developers Conference (GDC)
Another of the country’s biggest and best-attended video game events is the Game Developers Conference. With 5 days of conferences, the Independent Games Festival Awards, and a 3-day expo featuring more than 500 companies, there’s a huge amount of content to draw large attendee numbers every year.
GDC was cancelled in 2020 but did stream some of its scheduled content online in March and held virtual award ceremonies for the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice Awards. The event returns in 2021, running from July 19 to 23 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA. The Game Developers Conference has a new format and will in 2021 run as a hybrid event rather than a solely physical one.
Plenty of big brands routinely exhibit at this event, including:
Attendees include game designers and programmers, along with game producers and studio managers, visual artists, sound engineers, and composers. Marketing and business professionals working inside the industry also make up a big chunk of the approximately 30,000 people who come to GDC.
While this event is on par with E3 in many respects, it’s definitely aimed more at industry professionals who are tightly involved with video game development. Where E3 is just as much about the business side of the industry as the development side, GDC is solely a game developer conference, with little focus on the business end of things. Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about which events to mark on your calendar!
Health and Safety Information
GDC 2021 will adopt a comprehensive set of health and safety standards at its 2021 event, including continuous sanitization throughout the event and the provision of sanitization stations for attendee use. The event will use contactless registration methods, encourage social distancing, and mandate the use of masks and any other appropriate PPE.
LEARN MORE: https://www.gdconf.com/
3. Game Connection America
Game Connection is a smaller event than many others on this list, with only a few thousand attendees. But it’s no less valuable for its smaller size. This niche event typically runs around the same time as GDC, and while at that event the conference is just as important as the expo, at Game Connection, the focus is all on making deals.
Game Connection America 2020 was scheduled for March 16 to 20 at Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park) in San Francisco, CA but was postponed. Instead, Game Connection is holding a free virtual event in December 2020, from December 7 to 11. This virtual event includes sessions, speakers, and the Indie Development Awards, all online and all free to attend.
Game Connection is attended by game developers, publishers and distributors, and a wide variety of service providers. Around 750 companies are represented, with hundreds of buyers from over 50 different countries and around 220 exhibitors. According to event statistics, over 7,700 deals are made at every event! And attendees report an average ROI of $300,000, making it a potentially lucrative opportunity.
LEARN MORE: https://www.game-connection.com/
4. GameDaily Connect USA
Formerly known as Casual Connect, this game developer conference was at one time dedicated to casual and mobile gaming. In 2019 it was redeveloped into a more inclusive event for developers of all stripes. Established in 2005, GameDaily Connect is a relative newcomer to the list of annual gaming events. Even though it’s not as well established as E3 or GDC, it has already developed a modest attendance list. The last GameDaily Connect event ran from August 27-29, 2019 at the Disneyland® Hotel in Anaheim, CA. The event was cancelled for 2020, and as yet event organizers haven’t released details about 2021. According to its most current statement, GameDaily Connect is “temporarily paused” but plans to come back “bigger and better than ever.”
At GameDaily Connect USA, you can expect to see attendees from across the video game industry, including game studios; developers and programmers; investors; and those working in marketing, publishing, and other aspects of the business. While the event was formerly dedicated to the casual and mobile markets, its refocus into a more general industry-focused event is likely to see its attendance numbers soar in 2020.
LEARN MORE: http://usa.casualconnect.org/
5. GamesForum Seattle
With just a few hundred attendees, this is the smallest event on the list. But if you’re operating in the right industry niche, it could be as beneficial to exhibit here as at a larger conference. While only 600 or so people attend the event, they represent around 300 individual companies—so there’s lots of scope for making new contacts and getting leads. And with a smaller collection of exhibiting sponsors, there’s much less competition to contend with. The most recent event, GamesForum Seattle 2019, ran over October 22 to 23 at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. The 2020 event, planned for October, was canceled. As yet the organizers, GlobalGamesForum, have made no announcements about what’s planned for 2021, but they do have weekly webinars on Gamesforum Online.
With mostly publishers, developers, and managers, this is a senior industry audience, heavily populated by high-level reps and decision-makers. In fact, 80% of attendees are CEOs, directors, founders, and senior managers. So while it’s a very small event, there’s a lot of potential to connect with people who could become clients and customers.
LEARN MORE: https://www.globalgamesforum.com/
Get Ready to Succeed at One of These Top Video Game Events!
Games industry events can help take a business to the next level by putting your brand in front of new leads, clients, and customers. If you haven’t exhibited before, attending a game developer conference may just be the next big thing for your company!
Wherever you plan to exhibit, be sure to work with an experienced trade show company. They’ll have all the vendor, venue, and service connections you need to maximize your event potential and help ensure you achieve your goals.