Eurogamer Expo fails to inspire

I had an email from Eurogamer today asking for feedback on this weekend’s event. I thought, “What a great idea. But you guys clearly didn’t read my feedback from last year, so I’ll blog about it instead.”

The Eurogamer Expo is basically a huge set of demos for upcoming games. Imagine a big convention hall, full of stands and action. There are displays for just about every interesting game you have seen or heard about. Reps from gaming developers and publishers are on hand to tell you more about what they have on offer. You can buy or win branded mousemats, peripherals, codes for DLC and other fun fripperies. There are interesting talks and panel discussions. Then take that mental picture and edit it heavily so that the only thing that is left is a darkened hall full of shooters and action games, and a small stand for Nintendo in the corner where they didn’t even bother to bring a 3DS along and instead were demoing Dragon Quest 9 (a game I have been playing already for over a month.) To be fair, they do have a programme of talks by developers but it won’t really compare to the sort of thing you’ll read about with other targetted gaming shows.

Eurogamer Expo is really not a convention, in the general sense of the word.

I cannot adequately explain how disappointed I am that most of the games I really want to see weren’t even there. They had half the hall full of Assassin’s Creed II demos, and not a single MMO (even last year they had Star Trek Online demos set up). I noted on Sunday the games that briefly caught my eye — none of them enough to be bothered to wait around to play it. The lack of any 3DS was gutwrenching, given that it’s the one piece of hardware that I’d really like to demo before I buy and I know they have demo hardware because I read about it in accounts of US conventions this summer.

What’s even worse is that we were told off for taking pictures even though there was no sign anywhere forbidding you from doing so. Meanwhile, a guy with a press pass and a giant camera lined up exactly the same shot smugly to no issue at all. No, no, and again no. If I pay the cover price and go into an exhibition with my family and friends, you do NOT tell me not to take any pictures of them. All that will happen is that I will think that you and your convention are arses. It will not even stop the more determined among us from snapping the odd shot to capture the atmosphere. Nothing at the Expo was an industry exclusive, it had all been covered many times before in the gaming press.

We often comment that in the UK we feel that we get worse treatment than US consumers. Eurogamer Expo is like a distillation of that feeling into a single exhibition hall. All summer I’ve been reading about the cool games and demos that got shown at PAX, E3, Gamescom (admittedly that isn’t in the US) and the rest. And what do we get? A set of shooter/ action type demos. And what was even more surreal was that in all of this festival of gaming consumerism, there was no one trying to persuade us to buy. No one offering good pre-order deals. No one even seeming to care. And bear in mind that there was really no way to know exactly which companies or games would be on show until just before the Expo opened, we just had to assume that all the usual suspects would be there.

Astoundingly, the expo managed to attract more people than last year — so maybe the Expo, tedious as it was, is actually what people want.

At the same time as Eurogamer, there was a wedding exhibition in the hall next door. Amusingly, one of the women on my University course mentioned that she had gone there with a friend on Saturday. So while we were wandering disappointedly around the convention floor, she was trying FREE CAKE!  I rest my case