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Cake Nana at Anime Expo 2012 - the Experience

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EugeneSuei

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TLDR: One of the best way to get public exposure is through expos. Do it, it's worth it.

As part of the way to get the word out for our game and to validate it, this year we went to Anime Expo 2012.

We had 2 goals:
1) find out if our game so far is something the public would want. We need to know if this is a point where we need to pivot!
2) get the words out for our game.

The night before, Chad had setup our booth with all the items we're giving away to attendees to try our game, and we had 2 ipads ready with our game to demo on.

On the first day, there were 3 of us there. We finished setting everything up at around 9:30am, and we got ourselves ready for what's to come...
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We were ill-prepared for what arrived.
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Nobu and I worked nonstop from when the exhibition hall opened at 11am (it was delayed by an hour) until 5pm.

We barely had time to eat or go to the bathroom.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted, but it was an amazing experience!

Seeing the joys on all the people's faces when they played our game? Absolutely pricesless.
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Also the folks over at Ktdata stopped by and interviewed us!
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I had to call Chad to warn him about all the people that weren't able to play our game since we only had 2 iPads. So we got together and found 2 more iPads for Saturday.

On Saturday morning, we had 5 people at the booth, with 4 iPads. This time, we ARE ready

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... or so we thought
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All 4 iPads were in use nearly 100% throughout the rest of the weekend.

We were blown away by how many people loved our games.
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A lot of the times, we saw people calling others to come over, and coming back over and over again with friends.

All in all, over 1,000 people had seen our games and loved it. There were a lot of constructive feedbacks that we've taken to heart, and there are even more positive feedbacks.

In Conclusion...

If you are a developer, definitely go to an expo you can. Besides the public exposure, seeing people play your game is MORE fulfilling than ANYTHING else in the world. If you work for a game development company, go to an expo yourself at LEAST once. You will see that all the time you spent in the trenches, is worth it.

Lessons learned

-Be prepared with as many demo stations as possible.
-Try to bring at least 50% more people than there are stations. People need break.
-Anime Expo isn't where you normally find games. If you can, go to a PAX, Comic Con, Game Dev Conference, or E3. There will be way more press coverages there.

Check out the Gallery for more pictures!

Also, please check out our kickstarter page to help make our dream even better!

We want to make the game even better, add more depths, more story, and bring the kind of gaming you normally see on PC or console to the mobile game environment.

Thank you everyone for reading this.

Sincerely
-Eugene
www.cakenanagame.com
https://www.facebook.com/cakenanagame

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I've wondered about expos myself. My main concern is, with renting the booth, food to eat and a room to stay in, the cost of travel (driving or flying), and renting or purchasing equipment, it'd cost about $5000 for the first expo (and about $3500 for the rest, since you already have equipment).
If you went to someplace like PAX or E3, wouldn't there be so many big AAA games that take most the press, and 50 - 100 small indies fighting for the scraps?

How much did you pay for your booth? A PAX booth runs around $3000, I think. Some indies share a booth and split the cost, which seems like a good idea.

Can you really get enough good coverage? Now, you were at an Anime convention, so there aren't too many games present (though I'd imagine there'd still be a few), so you'd get more attention. At a regular gaming convention, would it really be worth it?

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I think there are some people in the press who will want to cover something else besides what everyone else is covering - and we'd just need to do our best to stand out among the crowd of indies =)

The booth itself at AX costed around 1.5k, and most of us simply commuted to the expo since we all live in socal - so we saved a lot on expenses there.

As far as whether or not will it really worth it? It depends on how that's defined for you.

For us, we were looking for 1 of 2 results:
1) Our game is good, people like it, and we'll keep on going on the same path to work on it.
2) Our game is bad, no one likes it, but we get some feedback on what people would like to see.

Whether the result turns out to be 1 or 2, it will be worth it to us.

What was unexpected to me at Anime Expo was how much everyone loved our game - and how much fun they had playing it.
This feeling is something you can only experience in a live event - and the fulfillment will remind you why you're really here, developing a game in the first place.

That alone is worth it.

-Eugene

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