Exhibiting experience at PopCon 2022 (Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5) in Indianapolis, Indiana.
MomoCon 2022 wrapup post referenced throughout this post.
PopCon is a pop culture convention that started in 2014 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. We registered for a booth on March 26 when we realized that it fell on dates right after MomoCon. It was a convenient excuse to visit the family!
The registration was slightly bizarre. There is an online form that requires payment on submission, without any sort of vetting process. The confirmation email after form submission said “Thanks for joining PopCon! See you soon!”
Our main goal going into the con was to promote RE:P and our Patreon (which gives you access to the RE:P alpha).
Unlike with MomoCon, we had no special indie game rate or section. We purchased a booth in the exhibit hall, which houses all the vendors, such as artists (no separate Artist Alley) and merch stores. The PopCon hall layout actually also housed the open board game area, cosplay contest photoshoot tent, and all the autograph booths lined along the walls.
The website didn’t list any information about the booth, so we had to email someone asking what came with the booth.
You get a table, 2 chairs and pipe and drape behind your table. There will be 3 foot pipe and drape between you and other vendors
It was unclear to us that “pipe and drape behind your table” meant the typical tall 8?ft curtain. It would have been nice to know that the provided tablecloths and curtains would all be blue and white.
Electricity was not included and had to be purchased separately through the convention center. We were given only a couple of days’ notice to purchase if we wanted to get the cheapest early purchase rate…which we missed. It was not clear that the rates listed were for the entire duration of the convention and not at a per-day rate. We had to email asking for clarification of the rates, and the early rate deadline was buried in the info sheet.
There was a VR booth area housing 7 games and ourselves, for a total of 8 video game developers. Luckily, our booth was placed just next to the VR booth area. There were also a couple of board games strewn throughout the exhibit hall. We were somewhat surprised to be the only video game developers outside of the VR booth…
$475for the exhibitor booth
$155for electricity at the booth
\$642 (\$203 + \$409+\$30)for flights (1x Atlanta ==> Indianapolis (double counted from MomoCon), 1x Indianapolis ==> Seattle + 1 checked baggage on Alaska Airlines)
$302for the hotel
$275for rideshare (airport ==> home, home <==> convention center)
$85for food and drink (1x dinner, 1x drinks)
$35for food and drink that we packed from grocery store (lunch sandwiches, beer, chips)
$202(\$165 for posters and postcards, $37 for shirts; double counted from MomoCon)
Between MomoCon and PopCon, we’re averaging about $700/day for two people, though the extra person doesn’t cost much since the hotel and rideshare costs would remain the same.
- 2x hardware (laptops, usb mouse, mousepads, headphones)
- merchandise (posters, keychains, buttons, stickers, merch-making tools)
- Square Terminal (for taking credit card payments)
- promotion materials (~4-5 inch stack of postcards, ~4 inch stack of business cards, 2x RE:H shirts, large posters)
- 3x tablecloth (two new purple ones and the black one), AG table runner
- postcard stands, 2x wireframe grid rack
- power strip, extension cable
- zip ties, binder clips, paper clips, single hole punch, scissors, double sided tape, duct tape, permanent markers
- music stand (as a poster stand)
- masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, water bottles
- sandwiches, beer, snacks
- small TV/monitor
- printouts/posters for social media information, written email signup sheet
Would have been nice to pack…
- large game or AG banner
- Headphones are useless. Most players came by with their friends who watched them play from over their shoulder. Some players would pass headphones to the others to let them experience the sound design. Many players did not use the headphones because they didn’t want to mess up their hair, or their costume got in the way.
- Add CTA to Settings screen. RE:P has an email signup call to action at the end of the demo, but sometimes players would quit midway because they ran out of time. Oftentimes they entered the settings screen hoping to locate a QUIT button. We would redirect them to using the handwritten email signup sheet, but it’s much easier to collect emails digitally, so it would have been nice to direct them to complete the email signup before they left the computer.
- Need a slightly bigger and taller TV/monitor. The small TV we brought worked alright, but its legs were very short. We ended up wrapping a box in the black tablecloth and stacking the TV on top. When someone was playing, it was still fairly difficult for any passerbys to see what was going on on the TV. One of the TV legs fell off in transit, and we didn’t have a screwdriver on hand. Luckily, the large Star Wars booth was able to lend us a screwdriver.
- Flatten unrolled posters a little before/after sticking them up onto the stand. There’s no reason to not try flattening them a bit before putting the poster up…we just forgot about it.
- Take down poster at end of day. Since we’re using some slightly precariously taped together poster support, we can probably extend its longevity by laying it down flat at the end of the day. The new system did a fairly good job, but the contraption did begin to sag by day 3.
- Need a game catalogue binder. Sometimes people would be generally interested in our story-driven games but not so much the ones on display (e.g. vampires). It’s easier to show someone a catalogue than to try explaining and name dropping games with just spoken word.
- Give out company/game name stickers. It’s easier to make someone passing by pause and accept a little sticker over a hefty informational sales postcard.
- Thin postcard flyers? We saw some other booths giving away similar postcards of game information but with very thin, flexible paper. While those are a lot lighter, meaning you can pack more, they also feel a bit flimsy. We really like our sturdy postcards, but it might be impractical…
- Pride month. We forgot it was Pride month, and we started day 1 with the “story-driven games” poster. On day 2, we switched to our LGBT+ poster and got a lot more people pausing and backtracking to visit the booth.
- Add company branding to merch. None of our merch has our game or company name on it…!!!
- Sign saying
SIT & PLAYon the chairs. People came up to the computers and asked us if they could just sit down and play when we added these signs. We didn’t need to explain as much about showcasing some game demos that could be played by con-goers.
- Purple tablecloths. These new tablecloths were excellent and gave the booth a distinctly different look from the surrounding (mostly blue and black) booths.
- Self-running booth? When Kirby came to help out, we had folks stop by the booth asking to pet him. No missed opportunities, so of course we convinced them to hear the spiel about our games and leave their email on the signup sheet. What if we just had arrows and various character cutouts instructing a visitor on how to proceed through the booth? Would it be more fun and comfortable for visitors? The sit ’n play signs certainly helped.
We were surprised to not see many other video game developers and the overall traffic/attendance to be fairly low. However, despite having fewer interactions with visitors, the interactions seemed to be more meaningful. A higher percentage of visitors already knew about our games (and played some!), and overall knowledge about visual novels and role-playing games seemed higher.
We sat for the majority of this convention, while we saw those at the VR booth area mostly standing. Sitting seemed to work just fine, though who knows if that works when there’s very heavy foot traffic!
The old-school email signup sheet was highly successful. Handwriting can be difficult to decipher, but we were able to follow up with more people than if they had to play the game first or find us on their own through our postcards!
We had everything backwards between MomoCon and PopCon! Expectations for the games to showcase, the type of audience visiting the con, the booth layouts, etc…
We should have hired our new staff from day 1.
Thanks everyone for helping make PopCon2022 fun!
We hired our new staff (Shiba, Kirby, and Navigator Kirby) from the Plush King over at Rare Candy. Based in Chicago, you can find them at conventions around the Midwest!
Clique Games is a game publisher specializing in virtual reality (VR) games, though they also publish non-VR titles. Rogue Ascent, a sci-fi shooter using Quest’s hand-tracking v2.0 technology (meaning no controller needed!), was being showcased at their booth. They organized the VR Booth and shared valuable insights in how they measure the success of exhibiting at a convention and what they would change about their booth setup next time around. The REBOOT VR Game Dev awards was also revived by them. Next year, they are hoping to do a more general indie (video?) game area (instead of just VR) and open up the game awards to all indie (video?) games.
Overrun showcased Arcaxer, a VR RPG game with turn-based shmup-infused combat and a 3rd-person god-view overworld for dungeon exploration. The game is currently available on the Oculus Quest and SteamVR. Congratulations on winning the REBOOT VR Game Dev awards!
Atlassia is a VR battle royale-style hero shooter inspired by Apex and Valorant. The game is available on the Oculus Quest and includes a neat adaptive positioning system that allows you to play both sitting and standing!
Grim Pickings is a board game developed at IUPUI, ported over to PC by Jake Oaks. Players take turns exploring the board trying to build a strong zombie before fighting it out! The team had a fun video game version setup where you play on a large touch screen (called an IQ table) with some minimal hand gesture controls possible via Leap Motion. Jake’s looking for work as a programmer, so reach out to him if you’re in need of a programmer!
Questions or Comments?
Feel free to send in questions about RE:P and any AG/GAG games (or dev-related questions)! Our Ask Box is always open.