Creating an online event in times of quarantine
Events are an important tool for Gameye and in 2019 we attended 13 events, a number that was certainly not unlucky for us. We had a booth manned by our staff or people attending and during some events we had serveral Gameye employees present, marketing and product specialists joining the Business development and sales department. For 2020 we planned a booth at GDC in March, another one at Reboot in Dubrovnik in April, and a third at Nordic Games in May. Despite not having made a commitment yet back in February, it was also very likely that we would have exhibited at Gamescom again, where our 2019 booth was a huge success for us last year. On top that these we would have also likely visited E3 and G-Star Busan.
Image 1: Gameye CEO Sebastiaan Heijne presenting on the Microsoft booth at GDC 2019
As we are all aware, physical shows in the near future have been cancelled and all events later in the year are very uncertain. Especially in a Business to Business environment that takes away certain aspects of our usual activity. Below are some of the the main aspects of physical, in-person events that we are missing out on:
1. Events help us to create contact moments with the industry. It doesn't matter which part of the industry, it may be marketing, sales or product related, but it's a fact that you meet new people at events and talk to existing relations. Not having that opportunity hurts a company in the long run.
2. Doing sales, or deals, at shows is essential to growing your business. It is the perfect moment to reconnect with current customers, find new ones, and close that important deals you needed.
3. Not being able to present your product to an engaged audience slows down progress of all departments. Personal connections are essential to find new partners, clients and supporters.
4. Of course shows are also about learning what your partners and competion are up to. It is a source of direct information that helps you staying in contact with the market in different ways.
How can we compensate from missing out in these key areas?
It won't do it to only start calling people. Of course video conferences can replace contact moments to some extent however they don't allow you to meet tons of new people and their structure does not permit discussing more than certain pre-determined subjects. We need something more similar to an actual events. So what are the alternatives, an online version of above mentioned shows? Not all of the organizers offer those and even if they do, prices for what is essentially a webinar are ridiculous. I recently have been seeing many events that claim to offer the full offline experience 'now online', with sponsorships of up to 20K€ and meeting tools that cost you a fortune. Event organizers need to make money in these troubled times, but in my opinion everything should stay in proportion to what you get.
You have to do what works best for you and your company, but I decided spending lots of money on unproven online events is not worth it. I do not mean to say I won't be participating in some of these events in the future, but jumping on every virtual event opportunity is not my cup of tea.
At Gameye we worked to try to find a solution that works and simplifies our challenges, one that we could create ourselves. We looked around for online tools to create events. After several talks we found a platform called Hopin, which seemed to suit our needs and in addition to that are also part of the Seedcamp family. We followed several introduction courses to learn how the platform works. The basics are simple. You can create an event, invite people to join, have them enter the virtual lobby and from there move on to a stage, where people can do talks, or to a session, where visitors can actively participate in round table conversations or presentations. Visitors can also actively engage with each other directly by chat and they even have the opportunity to create a virtual booth before the event starts, which could be a video or product info. All the interaction, talks and presentations happen live and in real- time. After a couple of test runs we decided that this is definitely worth a try and agreed to create our own online event, using Hopin.
Image 2: Screen Hopin online events
Tencent Cloud partnered with us in hosting our first online event. They are joining us on that virtual stage and are helping immensely in getting everything organized. We see this online event as a trial, as a test of the possibilities, so we set it to a duration of roughly 2.5 hours, to keep it manageable. Those 2.5 hours will be divided in 4 parts, or sessions, and two of these sessions will be filled with content by our partner, the other 2 by us. Setting up the event virtually, finding the right content, getting speakers to attend and talk online in presentations and roundtables, joinable by the visitors, takes a lot of time. But despite just recently having started working on this, tackling this opportunity already confirms to me we are doing the right thing. I'm learning a lot about the platform, general challenges of online events, we're improving our relationship with Tencent Cloud in the process, and much more.
We decided to hold the event on the 6th of May from 10.00–12.30. Virtual entrance will be free and live interaction of course will be free as well. You can follow the link to sign up and add it to your calendar.
Gameye will host two sessions with different angles. In the first Gameye session, Gameye's Sebastiaan Heijne will ask his guests questions about investment and everything attached to it. Craig Fletcher, founder of Multiplay and Games-Evangelist, Nick Button Brown, industry legend, Paul Wedgwood, founder of game studio Splash Damage and Michael Cheung from investment group Makers Fund will be joining him in a virtual round table session. In the second session, Gameye's Andrew Walker and Ralph Heersink will be joined by Isaac Douglas from Servers.com and Steve Iles from R8 Games to discuss scaling multiplayer games globally based on the case study of upcoming racing game Pacer.
During the first Tencent Cloud Session, Jorvik Zhang will discuss with Huya's GM Linda Li, Brawl Star's Server Lead, Robert Kamphuis from Supercell, Kunlun's GM Ran Zhang, and Yoozoo's GM Wenfeng Yang about the differences and challenges that developers and publishers will face on their journey towards one of the fastest growing and promising gaming markets in the world. In the second Tencent Cloud session, we invited Zikun Fan, Sr. Tech Consultant from Tencent Cloud who accompanied many western developers deploying their gams in China. He will share exclusive insights into how to handle the huge infrastructure demand for MMOGs when facing China's massive 640 million gamers.
If we get 50 virtual visitors and some interaction, just a few of those valued content moments, we will be very happy.
I'm not saying we found a solution to replace offline events. Howeve we may have found something to reduce the damage to us by not being able to take part in traditional shows for a while. If that testcase works well, we will set this up in a bigger scale, possibly with more partners, for a longer duration, maybe even with participants that like the concept.
To learn more about Gameye and all future online events visit our website.