The Average Gamer

Spilling Milk at the Eurogamer Expo

IMG_1549At this year’s Eurogamer I was moonlighting in the Indie Arcade section for Spilt Milk Studios. This allowed me a more unique view of what the expos are like for smaller independent developers. Located at the back of the hall near the developers Q&A rooms, the indie section drew a healthy crowd for most of the show.

Andrew Smith, founder of Spilt Milk Studios, was at Eurogamer Expo for the first time to demonstrate Hard Lines, his iOS game, to the public. When working such a large event, it definitely is tempting to find out what else is going on but (un)fortunately Smith spent most of his time showing off his creation.

“I didn’t get to see much of it other than when I was trying to sell Hard Lines to queues of bored people waiting to play Battlefield 3 of get their grubby mitts on free OnLive consoles… but overall for indies it was ace! We’ve had so much feedback telling us how nice were all were, how cool the indie tunnel was (not literally, it was boiling!), and how fun it was playing so many different games and meeting the devs at the same time.”

IMG_1586Independent studios do not have the luxury of a full office of developers who continue working while the expo is running. This means that for every day Smith was on site there was no work happening on any of Spilt Milk Studios projects. It’s a risk, but was it worth it?

“It was the most tiring thing I’ve ever done, but by Krom it was worth it,” Smith told me. “I’ll do it every year if they’ll let me! Not just in terms of sales and support, but because of all the lovely people we got to meet!”

One of the most important parts of having a stand at an expo is to distinguish your company from all the others. While most major studios have a following of people who know the products, an expo can be make or break time for an independent. It’s all about getting more exposure with the general public. To do this you need to get the people in and looking at what you have produced. Larger studios will have flashy stands, lots of screens, booth girls and generally more freebies than you can carry but this is sadly not an option for most indie developers. Smith hit upon a unique solution; free cake!

“Yeah the free cake went down well, I heard rumours people over the other side of the expo hall had heard about us, purely because of the cake.”

Given the size of Eurogamer, this was no small feat, and actually lead to an impromptu competition to see who could get the best score on HardLines during the show. The only problem for Smith now is how to top it next time.

“Perhaps we’ll get some glamorous assistants too (dressed as cake?). Whatever we do it’ll be a bit of a gimmick but weirdly popular, I’ve no doubt about that. And if I ask anyone to dress up, I’ll be doing it too. That’s a promise.”

After the event was over, a few of us retired to a local pub to discuss the event. It was pretty clear that although everyone from the indie section was exhausted, it was definitely worth the effort and most people will be making the effort to showcase at future events.