Over the past six years, I’ve attended multiple conventions and have seen the evolution of expo halls transform with the latest trends in the gaming industry. This year’s TwitchCon saw changes to how companies are marketing their titles.
Starting out, TwitchCon struggled to find its own identity and dealt with growing pains as it sought to establish its place alongside other trade shows. At first, it seemed to be just another PAX tacked on to an already jam-packed year, but despite that feeling, it was exhilarating to see how many developers wanted to actively engage with the streaming community. Twitch directly created an opportunity for many developers to have face-to-face conversations with consumers that not only play their games, but promote them.
Over the years, TwitchCon has evolved into a true hobbyist trade show. Developer booths have become less and less apparent in the expo hall, with many developers choosing more “creative” avenues to engage with their communities and aspiring broadcasters attending the convention. Booth pricing has been an issue for many developers long before TwitchCon started, and with the ever-growing cost of paid campaigns on the platform, it makes sense that most developers are trying to keep costs down. For most developers, it’s time to think outside the box (pun intended).
This year’s TwitchCon was the first that felt like it had more meaningful opportunities outside the expo hall than within. Every convention has mixers and parties, but this year it was the context of these parties that made more of an impact. There was a bit of everything – from small dinners with core influencers, to massive parties with all con attendees. I appreciate the focus from companies outside of Twitch taking it upon themselves to provide multiple social opportunities. Having options for other mixers in this area was a great starting point for the weekend’s festivities. Watching developers, publishers, community teams, and even agencies throwing these networking events shows you don’t need a huge booth to get your name out there.
The majority of the broadcasters that attend TwitchCon come for the networking. The more opportunities given to the creator to just be themselves at an event celebrating their uniqueness and creativity is a win-win in my book. Not only did the smaller parties stand out, but having community teams on the show floor just walking, networking, and being themselves also felt more prevalent this year. Between giveaways, random meetups, and social media clues, this allowed community teams to be more fluid in their approach. It turns the conversation from “come meet us” to “engage with us and participate in the fun all weekend long.” It never felt forced.
It was clear from walking the floor that this TwitchCon was a true trade show for the streamer enthusiast. From accessories to notification/overlay companies to lighting and audio vendors, it was the one-stop shop to “become the best broadcaster you can be.” This was no longer an expo hall that focused on the latest games to play. It focused on “You – The Content Creator.” Developers took note, started thinking outside the box, and figured out new ways to engage broadcasters while keeping costs low. As the gaming industry continues to propel forward and TwitchCon continues to evolve, we are only seeing the beginning of new ways to market games at conventions.
San Diego is a great locale for TwitchCon, from the Gaslamp Quarter to the beautiful weather; it’s amazing to see Twitch catch on to this and already schedule next year’s TwitchCon there again. Next year I’d love to see more companies continue to think outside the box. E3 is struggling and this is a prime opportunity for TwitchCon to steal some of its thunder. If they make a conscious effort to really fill up that expo hall again and work with publishers to create more experiences rather than booths, Twitch could become even more impactful for content creators.
All in all, this year’s TwitchCon as an attendee was a success. The locale was great, the food was amazing, the parties were awesome, and the people who attended made it special. Many game companies sometimes struggle to understand the importance of Twitch’s subset communities for their titles. The developers and publishers that have cracked that code and understand this excel at TwitchCon, and it’s not from their presence at a booth. So, in 2020, let’s get creative and make cool things happen, together.
Santos Echevarria is an Influencer Relations Manager at Sandbox Strategies.