On the floor
When the big day rolls around, I’m sure there is a lot on your mind. These are a few things we suggest to make the most of the event.
Wolfenhex of Pixel R U ^2 asked me over on Reddit if I had a problem with Exhibitors greeting me as I walked by and inviting me to check out their game. The answer is absolutely not. I’d suggest that it is a good practice to have someone from your team constantly recruiting more folks to play your game. If your booth is slow and you have more people to spare, even more recruiters is even better. Keep an eye out for media badges, and if you’ve planned ahead like I mentioned above make sure to draw media in to your dedicated setup.
Polish your Pitch
Giving a good sales pitch takes a lot of practice – and PAX is a great place to practice. I recommend structuring an elevator pitch for your game that you practice before, during, and after the conference until you can just rattle it off in your sleep. Ideally everyone on your team should be able to give the pitch, so that they can pinch hit if your booth gets busy. Some key components of a good pitch to consider:
- The Hook – Most simply this needs to be something you can deliver with a lot of enthusiasm to draw folks in. For example “Want to check out my game Gungeon? It’s got guns, its got bullets, it got bullets that shoot guns that shoot bullets.” If you aren’t feeling your muse on a pithy catch phrase, even something as simple as “Do you like things that are awesome?” can work. agent86ix compares the PAX Exhibitor experience to “speed dating”. Following that metaphor The Hook is your (classy) pickup line. As in dating, you’ll get shot down sometimes and you have to just roll with it – but as you look out at the floor you can see there are a lot of fish in the sea.
- The Intro – Once you’ve actually got someone with hands on your game, it’s good to have a rehearsed monologue of key aspects of the game you’d like to point out such as controls, backstory, your inspirations, etc. The first few minutes of “the date” can be a little awkward and having this rehearsed bit can get you past that.
- The Play by Play – Past the introduction, hopefully at this point folks are getting into the game and starting to really understand it. This is a golden opportunity to see the game through their eyes and “celebrate the moment.” Cheer on achievements (“yay, you didn’t die!”), point out special things that happen (“you found a secret!”), and in general just have fun with a fellow gamer.
When you get the pitch right, it will stay with media (and other) attendees long after the conference is over and the smoke has cleared. I can still remember the helpful guidance and encouragement we received from the Graphite Lab team as we took down a big bad alien-bug-queen in Hive Jump – and I can’t help but smile when I think back to a post warp speed spaceport near-collision in Rebel Galaxy with Erich Shaefer explaining how in earlier builds such high speed impacts were commonplace. If time allows, you might even take a note or two about especially fun highlights to include in a personalized follow up or in “shout-outs” on social media.
After the show
When the show is over its likely you’ll be exhausted. There is no harm in taking a little time off to get some sleep and relax, but after a short breather be sure to make the most of the connections you made and follow up.
As silly as this sounds, this may be the single most important thing you can do before, during, or after the conference. After the flood of introductions and the exposure to dozens and dozens of sweet sweet games – everyone feels a little exhausted. agent86ix and I did our best to take good notes throughout PAX South, but there were still names we forgot, or in some cases game names that jumbled in our minds. By reaching out to media contacts you made at the conference you can remind them of the details of your interaction and even include additional information. One developer reached out to us to thank us for an award, let us know they were featuring our site on their blog, but also point out that we’d confused the name of their game. Several others have reached out to us with demos of games we saw at the show, which is also an excellent idea. This normally has the effect of moving coverage of that game up in our queue, and also gives us the chance to provide deeper more accurate coverage.
Attending an event like PAX is a big opportunity. Win, lose, or draw your likely to get some good exposure – but if you want to make the most of the experience you need to make a few preparations, have a good pitch, and follow up after the event. If you do these things it will go a long way toward getting the attention and recognition that your project deserves.