PAX 2016 @ Melbourne

The Decision

Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is perhaps the biggest gaming expo in Australia! Whilst we “checked it out” last year as a spectator, we took the plunge and decided to exhibit this year!

It was a big decision, considering it was going to cost alot, from Expo booth tickets (more than $1500!), and that’s not including to flights and accommodation and freight in bringing down all the expo material!

But rather than having paralysis by analysis, we decided to “just do it” – how true entrepreneurs would do it !

1

The Pre-requisite

To exhibit at PAX, you have to be a registered company! For the longest time, Injoylabs isn’t actually a real company (as in a registered Company), but more just a name and a facebook page.
Speaking to an accountant, it was going to cost around $1200 for them to set one up for us (which is… alot!).
So we figured out how to DIY company with online tools @ https://www.ecompanies.com.au/ for $500!

Since we already figured out the setup from our SMASH exhibit, we kinda didnt stress out too much preparing for PAX. We had plenty of stock left from badges to prints (or so we thought…).

The Setup

Fortunately Pierre (our composer) had family down in Melbourne, and was able to borrow their TV monitor for the weekend! Monitors was something we couldn’t bring down, and it was going to cost around $400-$500 just to hire one for the weekend (equivalent of almost buying one!).

Meeting with other friendly developers, their recommendation was to buy black bed sheets at DFO, to act as tablecloth, so we did for $50!

We had to do quickly create some impromptu signs (on how to get a Badge and or an A5 Print.) and go to Office work to print / laminate.

The biggest stress was that the game was not working on Android! We’ve had a stable build for IOS, but testing it on Android the last minute led to some serious bug fixing and lack of sleep the night before Day 1 of PAX. We had 3 Android tablets to exhibit with, and not having the Android build working would have been 3 devices down… Fortunately with some extreme googling and energy drink focus, we managed to get it working successfully right before getting booted out of the Exhibition Center at closing time.

The Expo

Day 1 was intense (having not slept too well the night before)! It was unlike any expo we’ve done before! Non stop people as we tried to manage our 6 devices with 6 play testers at the same time.

We decided to be nice and give out 2 badges per person (who liked our Facebook Page)…. and boy did those badges disappear quick! We had around 250 badges made, only to learn from someone that 700-800 badges was the ideal amount… and giving out singles not Doubles! Basically… we ran out of badges by Day 1 out of 3.

By Day 2 we ran out of our 300-400 prints. Day 3 was a slower day, arguably because we ran out of loot to give away. Had heaps of play testers, and had heaps of fun!

 

 

The People

Met a really diverse range of great people at the Expo, that made PAX a memorable experience!

  • Met a real virologist who flagged Cell Surgeon as not scientifically accurate hehe.
  • Met someone who actually owned a Pet Care Business and really liked Hungry Pets!
  • Met the game designer at HalfBrick who gave feedback on Hungry Pets, because Halfbrick was making a very similar game, and sharing with us their experiences.
  • Met Apple and Google Appstore managers, who gave us some really great advice for success in the app store!
  • Met with some media people
  • Mets lots of cosplayers – gamers!
  • Met with lots of friendly game developers at the after parties!
  • Friends / People we knew, dropping by surprise!

 

The Verdict

PAX was definitely a great and memorable experience.

Whilst we probably only sold less than 10 copies of Cell Surgeon (and we weren’t really there to sell the game), and since Hungry Pets wasn’t out yet, plus we had to give out a tonne of merchandise from Prints to Badges for free (in exchange for some Likes on Facebook + Mailing List), looking at it from a business perspective – its a huge expense that you don’t make back.

But in the lens of a naive Game Developer trying to put yourself out there, you meet alot of great people, get alot of good advices and also put yourself on the map amongst the rest of the top developers.

People have been asking, “Will you do it again”?

We see going to PAX not a good if you’re only trying to invest for your current game. It’s better to think of it as a long term investment that hopefully after going a few more times, people will recognise that “Hey…InJoyLabs isnt just fresh out of no-where… they have been doing this for several years, they are legit!”.

And because of that – I guess it’s a price that we will have to pay – to truly uphold ourselves as solid Indie Game Developers.

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