The Entertainment Software Association announced today that the coronavirus forced it to cancel the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the big game trade that takes place (well, usually) every June in Los Angeles.
More than 65,000 industry professionals and fans go to the event, which is in its 25th year. But the show had a lot of problems with major vendors pulling out, such as Sony, Electronic Arts, Blizzard, and others.
We asked different leaders of the game industry for their reaction to this and the earlier cancellation of the Game Developers Conference. We wondered what this means for physical versus digital marketing of games, whether more events will be affected, and if digital events can accomplish the same tasks.
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The cancellation of two of the largest events for game developers to connect and market their games will certainly affect marketing strategies for 2020 and beyond. I believe we will see more online announcements planned by larger organizations, while smaller studios will come together to support each other for their own announcements.
The IGDA is launching a program to promote the game and fundraising launches of our members to our audience of over 100,000 game developers and fans. We hope that programs like this will help soften the blow from the loss of these events.
Events planned for later in the year are likely to wait to see how COVID-19 handles the warmer weather in the northern hemisphere. We have already seen a large push of social and influencer marketing in games, and it will likely grow with events being cancelled.
For most consumers, there is little difference between digital and physical events, unless they are one of the 100,000 plus attending events like Gamescom and PAX West in person. However, these changes would more significantly affect press and developers, as in-person connections and demos are more rich, supportive, and valuable.
The IGDA has expanded its online communities and support, from the IGDA Discord to regular webinars. While the IGDA has always been a great resource for best practices, white papers, and studies, we also have active online communities through our local chapters, special interest groups, and the entire international organization. These resources and communities can support all developers around the world affected by these event cancellations.
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