This week the video game industry was wrecked with the news that its most important conference, E3 2020, would join GDC 2020 in cancellation.

With COVID-19 impacting over 100 thousand individuals around the world, various industries face the realization that the events they’ve been strategizing and planning around for months will be canceled – joining Mobile World Congress, Google I/O, NVIDIA GTC, and several others.

Generating the questions; What’s next? How do we shift our efforts to make up for months of planning?

Here at Hotwire, we are asking the same. We are looking into ways to continue conversations with those we planned to meet, while also continuing general engagement. In addition, we are looking into what this summer in gaming events might look like.

WHAT’S NEXT?

For GDC; the organization is planning to “host a GDC event later in the summer.” This messaging, whether strategic or not, leaves the organizers with nearly a blank canvas while implying a date in July or August.

E3 generally drives summer strategy across the industry; taking place in L.A. in June, including the pending digital event. We are now looking into how a GDC event in “late summer” might work into the year’s marketing strategy – also considering the uncertainty of PAX West and gamescom cancelations.

GDC’s and E3’s differentiators could provide some direction on how to shift strategy and participation – GDC is focused heavily on “insider gaming” business development strategies, while E3 tends to be more consumer-centric.

SHIFTING ACTIVATIONS

The cancelations leave a large gap of activation. Our new focus is to ideate ways to replace programs around anticipated cancellations.. There are definitely conversations around some of the unfortunate negative impacts of the GDC postponement – such as the financial impact on developers – and more conversations are sure to come with E3’s announcement; presenting opportunities for the gaming community to engage and rally around.

We also recommend repurposing GDC and E3 2020 content. Take advantage of the GDC VOD (Video On Demand) session options to find topics or conversations to engage with. The GDC YouTube channel has begun to publish recordings of previous years’ sessions – such as “Same Game, Different Sound” a panel of game music composers; or a session on diversity, lead by Avalanche Studio’s Head of HR, Joahanna Thomas – and they are planning on publishing new content starting next week. Another idea is to stream canceled sessions, taking the lead from industry vets, like Microsoft.

Content from GDC provides great jumping-off points to generate other owned content to fill the gap. Previously, it generated its 2020 “State of the Game Industry Report,” from which two of our gaming experts were able to utilize insights to start a conversation around unification and diversity through our pre-GDC blog and mailer. The report has various topics to engage gaming media with, including topics around next gen hardware.

Before trailers premiered to the world at the Game Awards, or any of the other gaming events, E3 was the home for product announcements and pre-launch activations. With gamers still thirsty for news about new game announcements or updates on the most anticipated games of 2020, these activations can still hold their place on the calendar – with a shift to an integrated marketing campaign instead of an experiential element. Many are drafting press releases and updating PR campaigns to let their communities know that something will still be coming around June.

For those who’ve scheduled media briefings and demos; hold your meetings. Reach out to media and let them know you are still moving forward with planning participation at one of the replacement events, but can schedule a meeting via a video communications platform (e.g. BlueJeans, Zoom, etc.) in the meantime. If demo builds cannot be delivered digitally, complete a hands-off demo and follow-up with gameplay assets after your briefing.

SUMMER REPLACEMENT EVENTS

The standard trade shows will continue post-COVID 19, as the conference and expo floors provide many opportunities that digital events do not – especially around in-person networking and experiential marketing, which can leave brand impressions that last beyond telecasts. Many tech companies are already noting that all will return to normal past this necessary shift to digital events.

We are looking forward to more on GDC’s and E3’s summer events, especially with recent news of industry vets like Sony and Geoff Keighley pulling their participation. These events are still giant staples in the industry, so we are not ruling them out this year as they can still be a crucial element to many marketing programs. An August GDC event could offer a chance for developer, BizDev, and other production teams to participate with activations outside or product announcements or launch initiatives.

For now, let’s engage, strategize, execute, and participate. These next several weeks will bring challenges, but there is a bright future of events for all of us to play in. We will see you at one of them.

If you would like to speak to our gaming exports about continuing your conversations in the gaming sector, please reach out to us at consumerUSA@hotwireglobal.com.

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