The Importance Of Digital Showcases For Indie Studios

Physical events are truly back after a rough couple of years and taking center stage again. In this article, we discuss why digital events and showcases are still equally important.
digital showcase and events

Seeing your name and product in lights at an in-person event can be captivating, especially when you’ve very likely poured a lot of your passion and time into. Not all physical events are accessible for indie studios and gamers though, given the rising costs and often turbulent landscape of the gaming industry.

With the world becoming increasingly digital, there are many ways brands can connect with gaming audiences to increase the reach of their game or product. In this article, we discuss how developers and publishers can embrace the new normal of the games industry. Let’s dive in!

More often than not, AAA game titles garner attention by simply existing. Look at the recent GTA VI reveal for example – even with numerous leaks, millions of people raced to watch the official Rockstar trailer immediately after it was uploaded to YouTube. It’s now sitting at more than 185 million views just four months after being published. When Rockstar revealed Red Dead Redemption 2, all it took to create excitement with the industry and gamers was a simple logo reveal via a tweet.

This simplicity sounds like common sense, but unfortunately it isn’t that easy for indie developers to get attention for their games and products. So, how can smaller brands compete against these massive AAA behemoths? That’s where digital showcases and online events come into play, and continue to be significantly beneficial for indie developers crafting their latest titles.

For example, having a playable demo can work absolute wonders for an indie game. It gives consumers the chance to see the game in action, get a feel for the gameplay, and build on their excitement and anticipation for its full launch. Curious on where to showcase a game demo? Platforms like Steam organize events like Next Fest, which runs twice a year and encourages developers to submit their demo. Steam then promotes these titles throughout its service over the course of the week.

Attending physical events (and making a video game) takes time, and sometimes the timings just don’t work in a studio’s favor for its attendance at an in-person event. On the bright side, there are numerous digital showcases that encourage submissions. From Steam Next Fest, Day of the Devs, Tribeca Games Spotlight, Wholesome Direct, and The Future Game Show, there are many wonderful shows where indie developers can claim the spotlight. 

Promoting a game title online gives a boost of strength and the ability to reach press and influencers, especially from a PR and marketing perspective. Alongside digital showcases, the ever-growing popularity of social platforms like Discord can also be effective. Community servers are a fantastic place to showcase a game’s development journey and keep fans updated on its progress. Interacting with your audience is hugely beneficial to building a ‘trust through transparency’ relationship, and ultimately helps garner support for a game ahead of an early access or full launch.

You can take it one step further and use Discord to host a hands-on preview event. This also supports the ‘trust through transparency’ relationship and allows attendees of the online event to check out the game via screen share. Voice channel tools go hand-in-hand with this, allowing viewers to offer immediate feedback on any potential issues. Developers can address those topics in real time, and even be use them for Q&A sessions after the event has taken place. 

Digital media is much easier to digest and it can have a shorter form, so studios and consumers don’t need to put aside the larger amount of time required to attend an in-person event. That extra time and energy can instead be spent by developers and publishers working on and finalizing the product.

Physical events bring logistical barriers to companies with fewer resources, and gamers who might not be able to afford attending. Sometimes an in-person event isn’t a feasible option, with factors like budget, location, and more. Keeping up-to-date with industry discussion and networking is a crucial part of event attending, and not attending an in-person event means you miss out on those beneficial elements. Digital events and showcases allow attendees the chance to feel involved in the conversations and news from the comfort of their own home, or wherever they may be at the time. Home is where the Wi-Fi is!

Digital showcases are also often broadcasted on various websites and platforms, such as YouTube and Twitch. It gives a wider range of audiences exposure to games and products, whether these are gamers, fellow developers and publishers, or more casual viewers.

In March 2023, the industry was shocked by the news that E3, the world’s largest and most recognizable games conference came to seemingly a permanent end. The games industry and its economic landscape have been changing for years, with companies testing new business models amid increased demand.

Developers and publishers are now able to easily update base games to include new content, contributing to the rise of live service models. This new content is typically accompanied by a trailer reveal, which fits wonderfully inside a digital showcase.

Diversifying with both in-person and and digital events will be the most effective strategy for developers, boosting both brand and product. Footfall at physical events is at an all-time high after the pandemic, as indicated by this press statement from Gamescom for Business.

On the digital side, there was incredible engagement during the June 2023 edition of Steam Next Fest, with the week-long event attracting a record 11.4 million players.

There are so many different avenues an indie studio can take in order to create the most buzz around their product and studio; a completely digital approach, purely physical events, or an accumulative partnership of both perfectly weaved in a way to complement one another.

From concept to a final product, bringing a game to the market is a challenge in itself, and one size doesn’t fit all. At Heaven Media, we know that every campaign starts with a conversation. Every project needs its own unique approach, and we will work your desired way to meet your goals.

Heaven has very recently acquired and gone into collaboration with Endix. Endix is the go-to events platform providing an interactive digital events space for brands to easily engage with gaming audiences across the world. The approach is user-centric, built from the ground up, and puts power back in the hands of gamers. Endix serves as an accessible digital gaming expos, conventions and exhibitions to anyone with an internet connection.

If you’d like to start a conversation about how Heaven Media can provide integrated gaming marketing support within the event sector and towards reaching your goals in 2024, you can reach out to our team here:

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