7 Lessons Learned from Presenting at VR Trade Shows

In January, we put our games into the hands of 450 consumers at PAX South. In February, we unveiled a new game at GDC, “Dog Park”. In early April, we talked to the burgeoning VR arcade community at the VR Arcade Expo. And later that same month, we showed off our new avatar technology at VRLA.

Presenting at these events was a lot of work. It was expensive. It was exhausting. It was worth it. Here are the seven most important things we learned in the process:

1. VISIT EVERY BOOTH AND SAY HELLO. Introduce yourself. Grab a business card. Make the conversations about what they are showing, not what you’re there to pitch. You’ll learn a lot very quickly about where the market is heading. You’ll also prime folks to want to learn more about what you’re doing.

2. ADD COLLECTED BUSINESS CARDS TO YOUR MAILING LIST (WITH PERMISSION!). Keep your conversations going after the show. Other attendees will want to know what you are up to, and how you’re growing… provided you keep communications relevant and personalized. If you’ve just downloaded one of the games that was made by a developer at the show, drop them a line and let them know what you thought. If you’ve had a breakthrough with your technology, and are confident your findings could help others, take a moment to reach out. The VR community is small, but it’s very welcoming, and it’s great for all of us to learn and grow together.

3. MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS. We had an instance where we were able to share lighthouses with a presenter that had to show off a game in the same 10’x10′ space as ours, due to a double-booking issue. The situation could have been uncomfortable, but by aiming to find a solution that helped both parties, we ended up having a stronger, more coordinated joint presence. By contrast, we’ve experienced booth neighbors with loud, overbearing presentations, who have been unwilling to make small changes to improve the show experience for others. This makes everyone miserable, and makes your corner of the event less appealing to attendees, reducing foot traffic.

4. GRAB TESTIMONIALS ON VIDEO. It’s great to have footage of players enjoying your game when you’re putting together decks for investors, VR arcade proprietors, etc. It means a lot more to hear that your game is “great” when the messaging is coming from a thrilled PAX attendee than when the same message comes directly from you. Also, it’s really nice to be able to bring back footage to share with the team members who were not able to attend the show, so they can get a feel for how your content was received.

5. BUILD A DEMO THAT OFFERS A TIGHTLY GUIDED EXPERIENCE. Make sure you are only showing the most stable, satisfying parts of your product in a demo. Take the time to figure out the demo’s flow, and practice with co-workers repeatedly before taking it in front of an audience. The demo should only last five minutes, and attendees should understand exactly what they are meant to do at every moment. If your core experience is about shooting, don’t let players linger in a lobby – throw them right into an exciting shootout, and make sure the game seamlessly guides them to try out the 2-3 most satisfying weapons in the game. Don’t waste any time on narrative preambles, or elaborate cut-scenes.

6. DON’T FORGET FLYERS AND TCHOTCHKES! You want to leave an impression that lasts long-term. We hand out both single sheet color flyers and branded glass wipes (particularly popular at these events). These go to everyone: B2C and B2B attendees. If you’re talking with potential business partners, make sure they get your business card, as well.

7. KEEP A PACKING LIST WITH YOU, AND PLAN OUT WHO IS CARRYING WHAT TO AND FROM THE EVENT. If you’re a small team, it’s unlikely you’ll be shipping everything to the event in advance. We’ve found that it’s invaluable to have a hardware checklist on hand when we’re packing up our gear and promotional materials. Include everything – face masks, additional power cords, chargers, etc. Break the list down based on who is bringing what to the event. And double check the list when you’re packing up, just to make sure you don’t forget something on the show floor.

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