This spring we departed for EGX Rezzed 2014 in the UK. I originally published a shorter version of this article on our Kickstarter for our backers, but later I decided to expand it, adding more details and costs breakdown so it can be more practically useful for other indie devs considering attending EGX Rezzed or an event of similar size in Europe.
- Hotel (a room for three people, three nights): 312 USD
- Hotel breakfasts (three people, three mornings): 68 USD
- Single-screen booth slot (incl. electricity, space, booth, PC and monitor): 1000 USD
- Exhibitor Assurance (required for exhibiting at the NEC convention center): 139 USD
- Printed artwork (PVC banner for booth branding) 90 USD
- Promoter (hostess) salary (our friend, so we just agreed on a small stipend and to cover all her expenses): 50 USD
- Flyers (A6, 3000 pieces – we used about half of these at EGX): 96 USD
- Manufacturing of physical press kits (again, we used only about half of these at EGX): 346 USD
- Minor expenses here and there (scissors, first aid kit, bus tickets to/from airport, etc.): approx. 70 USD
Basic budget (without airfare costs): 2171 USD
This is generally – more or less – a budget that we couldn’t make smaller unless we chose to omit flyers, physical press kits, etc.
Below, we calculate our total price including airplane tickets. However, this is very location-specific. For UK citizens, obviously, the travel expenses can be much lower (the opposite for US devs considering attending an event in Europe). Also, we had the option of taking a bus instead of an airplane, but the prices didn’t differ that much and we went with the more comfortable option.
- Travel budget: Airplane tickets (round-trip for three people): 810 USD
Total budget (with airfare costs): 2981 USD
Personal expenses (food, drinks, local transportation, sightseeing on last day): Around 200 USD/person/four days in Birmingham. The absolute total expenses for the whole “trip” would thus be around 3600 USD, but again, this might differ significantly based on the amount of free time, requirements for food (fast food vs. ”real” restaurants), involvement in the networking parties (drinks are quite expensive in the UK!), souvenirs you buy etc. Also, our total included some museum visits and other sightseeing expenses on the last day, which was really a personal free-time decision that didn’t have much bearing on the expenses for the event itself.
- Personal spending money: approx. 600 USD (in our case)
Total "unofficial" budget (including personal spending money): 3600 USD
For us, time didn’t apply directly to our costs (we ourselves are the devs). Had we needed to hire someone for the event, the budget would have been higher, but as it was, we took it as a work trip to UK rather than “paid work time.” We paid only a small stipend to our friend Veronika, who isn’t part of the dev team, but helped us tremendously on site promoting the game and manning the stand while we took breaks or chatted with other devs.
Anyway, to break down time spent on preparation and the event itself:
- 2 days travel time (a day before the event and a day after the event)
- 3 days spent at the convention itself (9 am – 7 pm + networking/parties afterwards)
- About 3 days (total) of preparation, paperwork, searching for tickets, hotel, insurance etc. This was one-man job, so it didn’t distract the rest of the team, but I thought it made sense to mention here. I didn’t spend three days in a row on this; three days represents the sum of all the time I spent getting everything prepared, starting in January through the event itself (end of March) – emails, Word, Excel, phone calls, etc.
All in all, then, for myself it took 8 workdays (3 prep days, 2 travel days, 3 days at the convention) which otherwise I could have spent developing the game. For the rest of our team attending (our music composer and my friend/hostess) it totaled 6 workdays, which they too could have spent in a different way.
As for the time budget, it is important to note that I am not including the time we spent on doing the artwork (logo, cover art, and all related graphic design), mainly because we use it also on our Kickstarter, our website, flyers etc.
Was it worth it?
From my point of view, it definitely was. We had attended many smaller events in Czech Republic before, so we kind of knew what to expect, but overall, the outcomes were really positive for us.
What went right?
- Costs vs. Outcomes Ratio
Given the location of the expo and the indie-friendly price point at EGX, the overall budget was doable, especially considering the upsides. It was our first excursion abroad and from what I can tell, it was worth it in terms of the publicity and networking benefits we received.
- Proper planning in advance
We started prepping for the event about two and a half months in advance, in early January (EGX Rezzed took place the last weekend of March 2014). Although we had a minor crunch period during the last two weeks (because we wanted to have as polished game as possible for the event), all the paperwork, emails, and organizational work was done well in advance, so by about three weeks before the convention we had everything ready to go and were able to concentrate only on finalizing the game build.
- Physical press kits
When thinking of “how to stand out in the crowd,” I came up with the idea of making a diorama-like physical press kit (pictures below). It turned out to be a great “pick-up” tool – when there was someone with a press badge around our booth, it was very easy to greet him/her and hand out the press kit. Plus our girlfriends were taking photos with the press kits, which they never do with our other promotional materials :-).
Wrong went wrong?
- Spoken English for interviews
There’s not much I could have done about this – especially in a short time period – but watching the interviews once they were online made me realize that although I can understand and communicate in English without problems, my English is simply not polished enough for audio/video interviews. (So now I try to avoid these whenever possible and recommend to make a Let’s Play YouTube video of the game – or do written interviews). As a non-native speaker, it will be hard for me to improve on this skill before the next event (apart from living abroad I can’t think of any other way to improve my conversational English), but still, it is worth noting.
- Failure to make contact with some of the big media outlets
Although I consider us pretty successful in terms of making new contacts with other indie developers, YouTubers, and journalists at EGX, we missed some of the “big fish” such as representatives of VG24/7 or Eurogamer. We knew they were at the event, but we never made contact with them. Had we succeeded on this point, it could have brought us even wider attention than we received (which was still great, considering it was our first expo abroad – both for me personally and the team/company). Next time, I think a more sophisticated approach to contacting the press prior to the event and of utilizing Twitter at the event itself might bring an improvement.
- We missed the flight back
I would rather not comment on this, but yeah, we missed the flight back and had to take a bus instead. Enough said. The good part is that it gave us a couple of extra days’ holiday in London. :)
Outcomes in bullet points:
- We met lots of other indie developers, which was interesting, inspirational, and simply great both on a personal level and potentially on a professional one (you never know where good industry contacts will lead).
- We received loads of feedback on the game, so from a developmental point of view the event worked great as a three-day playtesting session.
- We actually received some very positive feedback, which has given us energy and enthusiasm to further develop the game. It has also reassured us that, although Dex is not a game for everyone, it already has its audience.
- We gave out around 90 physical press kits (DVD with playable version + information about the game + our contacts) to journalists and YouTubers.
- We received a couple of job applications (though we are not going to use them right now since we don’t currently have a budget for expanding our group – but for some dev teams, attending an expo might be a way to bring some great extra hands to your project).
- The event directly brought us around thirty interviews, media articles, and Let’s Play videos (first impressions) in several languages, ranging from smaller sites to more prominent media outlets (such as Strategy Informer, which published an encouraging preview article about Dex).
- We had a good time. The atmosphere at EGX Rezzed was excellent, organizers had helpful and responsive attitudes, there were no problems in communication or in running the booth at the event, and also the audience was cool. So although it was exhausting (three days in a row standing at a booth and talking to people – kind of the opposite of what I’m used to in my normal daily routine), it was really a nice time spent with gamers, other indie developers, and people interested in our game.
- http://indieboothcraft.com/ - I actually found this site just recently, after attending EGX, but in retrospect, I can confirm the tips and budget approximations on the website to be pretty accurate. So if you are an indie developer considering attending an expo and you’re wondering what budget you’ll need and what you’ll want to bring with you, browse through the site.
- http://dex-rpg.com/ - website for our game Dex (2D open-world side-scrolling cyberpunk RPG), if you are curious about what we were exhibiting.
- http://indiemegabooth.com/ - an indie community initiative to share booth costs and raise awareness of indie games at big game conventions, currently with submissions open for PAX Prime (Seattle, USA) and Gamescom (Cologne, Germany).
- http://www.egxrezzed.net/ - the event we’ve been talking about, just in case you’re considering attending next year. The same organizational team is behind EGX London, which takes place in September and should be a bit more expensive, but also somewhat larger (http://www.egxlondon.net/).
I hope you found bits and pieces of this article useful and are perhaps encouraged to attend a local or international expo. As for us, we plan to showcase Dex again at some events this autumn, when we will be closer to release than we were in March (it was really a first shot for us). See you there, maybe?
Lead Designer of Dex