Video game exhibitions are a fantastic way for developers to show off their latest projects, and one organization is looking to bring the benefits of big conventions to everyone in an accessible, virtual space. LudoNarraCon aims to do exactly that for a second year in a row in April 2020.
The project was first conceived by the organization known as Fellow Traveller, and they describe LudoNarraCon as a global digital convention that is held on the Steam platform, which means it virtually eliminates all costs associated with traditional exhibitions except for the time invested, and even that is drastically cut down for all parties.
E3 for instance can cost attendees $250 simply for an entrance fee before taking travel, food, and accommodations into consideration. Developers too need to put up a significant amount of capital to secure a booth at a event of that scale.
Speaking to Destructoid, one developer described how they spent nearly $100,000, but only after finding creative solutions to most of the challenges associated with having a booth. Without proper planning, they estimated that their costs could have easily reached between $300,000 and $500,000.
There are of course smaller exhibitions to choose from, but the point remains that any physical venue will require time and money that may not be available for smaller Indie developers. This is where a virtual exhibition like LudoNarraCon shines in providing a place for everyone, developers and viewers alike.
Chris Write, the Managing director of Fellow Traveller, further describes the process as, “The first of its kind, LudoNarraCon was an experiment born out of a growing need to find better, smarter ways to promote the games on our label and to find new ways to pursue our mission of pushing games forward as a storytelling medium.”
By using Steam, the project is ensured to reach a broad base of viewers. Steam has been the largest platform for accessing games on the PC, and as a free program, no one would be excluded due to the costs and time needed to travel to a larger exhibition.
If last year’s figures are any indicator of what we will see this year, the future for LudoNarraCon looks promising. At the first event, more than 850,000 unique visitors visited the event page and exhibitors had an average of 25,000 visitors to their virtual booths, which is to say, their store pages. Unreleased games shown saw average increases of 4,000-5,000 Wishlist increases, which is important due to how Steam later prioritizes what products it shows on its pages to potential consumers.
Panel discussions on topics similar to what appears in larger venues including Romance in Games and Procedural Storytelling were also presented with participants all over the world. Those panels were streamed live and made available after the event, and this year’s LudoNarraCon looks to build upon the success of the first event.
The specific details about the event are as follows are look to improve upon the first year’s event:
- A curated selection of developers “exhibit” on their Steam store pages, using Steam’s streaming features to provide behind the scenes looks at their games. Some also provide downloadable demos, available only for the duration of the event but playable at the player’s convenience.
- A “theatre” stream features panels on topics related to narrative games and panelists including narrative game developers, writers, and journalists.
- All of the live streaming content is looped for the rest of the event, making it easy to access the content when it suits the attendee.
- More than 50 narrative games run discounts for the duration of the event.
- Media can register for a press pass, giving them early access to demo builds, press assets and facilitating contact with participating developers to organize interviews.
- Attendees can connect with each other via stream chat, steam forums or a dedicated section in the Fellow Traveller Discord.
- Steam brings the whole event together in a special event page on the store making it easy to find all the content. Steam also puts the event in front of millions of Steam users via promotion and exposure on the store.
With the success of the first year having worked to establish the name of the event as reputable, we can only expect good things to come from the second in April of 2020.
As smaller Indie developers work to get their name out in a market that is all but saturated with high-quality games, LudoNarraCon looks to be another great tool that leverages virtual space to bypass what is in many ways an antiquated method of presenting at exhibitions without having to spend nearly as much time or money.