I have always enjoyed my time at Eurogamer Expo but this years was bigger and louder than all those before it and as a result, it attracted a huge number of people. Despite its popularity, I still think there’s a lot of work to do to lift this game to the lofty heights of PAX or Gamescom. Here are my suggestions as to how they could improve on the visitor experience.
Implement Clearer Themed Zones
The problem with Earls Court is that it’s a large open space that is disrupted by giant pillars. While there are clearly XBox, Sony and Nintendo sections, they aren’t clearly defined. You’ve various pods and booths all intermingling with Xbox straddling Sony and vice versa. There’s plenty of branding on display, but I think it needs to be cordoned properly so you know exactly what zone you’re entering. As you enter Earls Court you’re immediately greeted by a huge Nintendo booth but immediately behind it, without knowing it, you’ll stumble across a PlayStation 4 despite looking for Super Smash Brothers. Considering the console brands have clear identities and colour schemes, I don’t think it’d be very hard to place all three at opposite ends of the Expo with clear barriers, branding and instructions outside of those barriers as to what games are on offer. Keeping specific companies games house within a branded area would also allow gamers to gravitate towards their favourites much easier while reinforcing brand awareness.
Check Over The Playable Units
If I had $1 for the amount of playable units that didn’t have headphones, or had faulty controllers I’d have been a rich man by the time I left. I think it’s the responsibility of both Eurogamer and the developers and publishers attending the event to ensure their playable gaming units are working and that they actually have sound. What’s the value in playing any game if you cannot physically hear what’s happening? Worse, when there headphones provided that the unit itself isn’t working and the staff on hand have no care to fix it. When you’ve waited 5 hours to play Evolve only to be seated and find out your headset isn’t working, it just isn’t good enough. If developers and publishers can’t be bothered to fix them, or provide headphones, they shouldn’t be allowed to come back.
Push the Retailers Out of the Main Floor
I fully appreciate that retailers such as Game or Penny Arcade likely pay a premium for floor space at Eurogamer but it’s so annoying to see huge booths taking up valuable floor space. Games presence is enormous and many of the other retailers, selling generic overpriced T-Shirts you can get anywhere online is incredibly frustrating. When certain game only have a few units to play on and a retailer is taking up enough space to add another twenty, it just doesn’t sit particularly well with me. If retailers are to insist on being part of Eurogamer (as is inevitable) they should be shifted to a temporary retail section where people can go to shop at their leisure.
Get Better At Estimating Gamers
This is going to be particularly difficult for any event such as this because it’s going to be a tug of war between what a publisher wants (exposure) what a developer can deliver (game build and PC units) against what Eurogamer expects queues to be like. I think it’s fair to say though that realising over 50 playable units of Far Cry 4 was excessive (no one ever queued for it) while 8 units for Dragon Age Inquisition was just a terrible oversight. I admit it’s going to be difficult to predict how many people want to play X game, but I think it’s sensible to simply approach it from the standpoint: is it AAA? If it is, there needs to be a minimum amount of gaming units that are playable. Evolve having 10 was simply too little, as evidenced by 5 hour queues while Assassins Creed having almost an entire wing was totally pointless.
A frightening amount of games at this years Expo were behind curtains. You queued outside and were then lead into a darkened room where you’d play the game and be escorted out. If you tried to peek through the curtain while queuing the staff would be quick to give you a stern warning about the use of photography and video. For me and if you’re a company that does this, you need to stop. As far as I’m concerned, banning those queuing to play your game from physically seeing it beforehand is wholly wrong. I would be fine for a behind-the-curtain approach if your game was in Alpha and not yet ready for public consumption (such as a press screening) but to know that it’s a public event people have paid money for, it just stinks. If you’re so concerned about videos and photographs leaving your event, you shouldn’t be showing your game. Vocal opinions across social media or in the pub that evening are just as damaging as a screenshot that doesn’t look hot. It’s time Eurogamer put a stop to it for next year.
Did you attend Eurogamer Expo this year? What were your thoughts on it? What do you like and dislike about the show? Let me know!