Rupert Loman on GAMEFest, queues and the future of EGX

Gamer Network won the 2016 Events Team MCV Award for its work on EGX. We speak to founder and CEO Rupert Loman about the company’s past and upcoming shows, and its renewed rivalry with GAME.

Why do you think you won the MCV award?
EGX is a show that delivers a great experience for the gaming community but we also work hard to ensure it also works well for the industry. We do everything we can to make sure the event is a success for all of our partners – it doesn’t make a difference to us whether it’s a triple-A publisher or an indie student just starting out with their first project, we will go the extra mile. It’s incredibly inclusive and I think that shows in the end result.

How would you evaluate 2015?
2015 was a great year. As well as the events, our website and video businesses grew significantly and we’ve been making good inroads in the US market, which is a key target for us.

What are your prospects for the year to come?
As well as EGX and EGX Rezzed there’s a big technology project that we’ve been working on for the past year that is nearing completion, which will show numerous benefits for our readers, viewers and advertisers. We’re looking forward to rolling out the new Eurogamer website as part of that.

How are things coming along for the next EGX?
Before EGX, we’ve got EGX Rezzed taking place at Tobacco Dock as part of London Games Festival. With over 150 unreleased games and some incredible development talent on show it’s comfortably London’s leading games event and the UK’s number one PC gaming event as well. After that, our full attention moves to EGX 2016. We’ve sold 25,000 tickets already for September’s show at the NEC.

"With over 150 unreleased games and some incredible development talent on show, EGX Rezzed is comfortably London’s leading games event."

Rupert Loman, Gamer Network

Are you happy with your new home at the Birmingham NEC?
It was of course disappointing to have to leave London but we were really happy that both the industry and the gaming community supported the move. To move the event over 100 miles yet still have our audience show up in force was great to see. Being in a new venue and location after five years at Earl’s Court meant we had to adjust and re-learn some elements but overall we’re really happy with our first year at our new home.

GAMEFest is taking place just four weeks before EGX, at the same venue – do you think it will have an impact on EGX?
Our track record of growth and success is unarguable. Publishers and developers have indicated their plans for EGX won’t change because potential competing events are joining the market and we know we will deliver both the audience and a great event. On a personal level of course we’re disappointed that GAME is repeating their move from 2011 of placing a similar show in the calendar immediately before our own well-established event. Obviously last time they did this they went into administration soon after the event but that was because of their legacy High Street retail business. It looks like things are on a slightly more secure footing for them this time so we will see how it plays out.

Earlier this year, you listed a few points that needed improvement at EGX – including queuing, pre-booking, food/drinks and accommodations. How is it going on this front?
Long queueing times for the biggest games was the only notable piece of negative feedback we had this year. We wanted to tackle that head on and we’ve made a variety of changes already in our ticketing set-up for this year, including the re-introduction of afternoon tickets and extending the opening hours on Saturday and Sunday (the busiest days) to help spread out the demand. Even though we have many different features at the event beyond just playing games, we do still need to make sure we have enough playable stations for the biggest games and we’re addressing that too along with the platform holders and publishers. We’ve also worked with the NEC to improve the catering offering within the event and a brand new hotel, Resorts World, is now up and running. So we’re confident.

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