[Gamasutra correspondent Iain Simons attended the first Games Market Europe trade event, held in the Business Design Centre, Islington, London, last week, and offers his opinions on the event in this special 'Postcard From' report.]
Games Market Europe, in its inaugural year, is very firmly focused on some clear intentions. As Event Director Andy Lane clearly states in his programme introduction, GME should be “..an event within which is was possible to talk without shouting, network without jostling, and to do business without it costing you the earth.”
, held from August 30th to September 1st, has been assembled with an astonishing speed by Barrington Harvey and Tandem Events to ensure that the UK maintained a computer and video games trade show. Following the hand-wringing demise of ECTS last year, GME has declared itself the rightful inheritor of the UK trade forum crown. Forums, talking, networking... almost a declaration to create the absolute antithesis of the pyrotechnics of E3, the focus for GME is clear.
Aside from the searing heat (which comes hand in hand with holding a show in what is essentially a greenhouse), the first thing that hits you is the size. GME 2005 is not a large show. The thirty five exhibitors float on a raised island in the centre of the exhibition hall, surrounded by space, lots of space. Positioning the event in a space such as this is a confident step, signalling great aspirations – but also demands a very high volume of attendees in order to make it feel vibrant. By choosing this location as a site, GME perhaps set itself something of a burden in its first year.
The stands themselves are a curious and occasionally surreal mix. One can experience a soberly designed ‘booth-come-office’ at which sits the lonely company representative, waiting to be approached – and then discover an elaborate snow-scene complete with a model lion just yards away. The stands attracting the most attention were probably the ones you might expect, given the general absence of showcase material. Ubisoft came out in force with playable demos of both their long awaited King Kong
, Gem Distribution previewed an early version of the Xbox 360 demo pod and NCSoft previewed City of Villains
in lieu of its European launch. The overall sense of the event, is heavily weighted toward the more business-driven experience. GME delivers on its agenda to provide a networking environment well, with showboating audio-visuals kept to a bare minimum.
The emphasis of the show was further underlined by the floorspace allocated to the networking bar. This proved to be a both a busy watering hole, and a clear center to the discussions taking place at the event.
Perhaps the most conspicuous elements of GME were the absentees. While a number of retailers were in attendance at the show, many other delegates expressed disappointment not to have seen a greater presence (any presence) from them at stand level. This is a sentiment that has been expressed several times this year, with retail also largely absent from the ELSPA European Games Summit and the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival.
The other notable absence from the proceedings was SCEE, particularly as the event itself spanned the European launch of PSP. For GME to grow into a credible successor to ECTS (and face-up to the ever-growing Leipzig), it’s essential that it wins the support of the whole trade community. Many delegates also complained that questions need to be asked about scheduling, with the show running directly parallel to this year’s GDCE.