Preview: Eurogamer Expo 2011
David Lilley outlines plans for this September's UK consumer show
Last year's Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court was the major consumer games event on the calendar, and details for this year's event have just been announced.
To find out more, we spoke to David Lilley, show director, who outlines here how the event has grown, who's involved this year and why it's going to be bigger than ever. Tickets are also now on sale, available from the official Expo website.
Q: The Expo's become the major consumer games event in the UK now - talk about the origins of the show.
David Lilley: Well, it's in its fourth year now. In the first year it was an addition to the pre-existing GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair at the Truman Brewery in London, to provide people with some playable code that they could come along and enjoy - games that you could play before they were released. That attracted 4000 people.
The following year we moved it to Old Billingsgate, and also put on a show in Leeds at the same time - which was very successful, and we loved going to the North. But unfortunately getting mainstream development talent to go to Leeds was very difficult.
So rather than have only a secondary focus on Leeds, for last year we concentrated on London and moved to Earls Court, which in my view is the best venue in the country. We attracted just over 20,000 people - and this year we're targeting 30,000-plus.
Q: Why is it important to have a consumer event in the UK?
David Lilley: Well, two reasons really. One, there needs to be an advanced sampling opportunity in what is the biggest category in the entertainment business - there's massive demand out there.
But also, because the UK is a big centre for gaming - both development and playing - and it's great to have a really big celebration of that.
Q: So tell us more about this year's event.
David Lilley: The dates are September 22-25, and we're taking the whole of the Brompton Hall at Earls Court. As I said, the intention is to get 30,000 attendees over four days. The first day will be a press and community day; the show will then be open at 10am every day for press, and 11am for the general public from the Friday to Sunday.
We're taking twice as much floor space, and we intend to use every single debug console we can get our hands on - we're targeting 500 consoles on the show floor, which is a big number.
The thing is, we could just push more people into the same-sized venue as last year, but in order to make sure everybody has a really good time, a great experience of the games and a full eight hours entertainment each day, we want to bring as many consoles and as much playable code to the show floor as possible.
Q: And who's involved so far?
David Lilley: We have a commitment for support from Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA, Bethesda, Ubisoft, Namco Bandai, Konami, SEGA, THQ, Tecmo Koei and Capcom. We think we'll have every major player represented this year.
Q: And another GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair?
David Lilley: Yes, absolutely. We understand that we can deliver the massive sampling arcade, and we know that there's a lot of demand for that from consumers. But now we're going to build up the other features around the show - the Career Fair being one of them.
The Career Fair is an essential element of the show, really - we get a lot of fantastic people there because of it, both developers and publishers, but also people who are showing up and hoping to work in the industry.
We're also going to introduce the Eurogamer Experience, to make sure that people are fully aware that the Expo arose out of the Eurogamer.net website and community, plus a retro area that will include some old consoles - and we'll have a tournament area as well, so attendees can win some prizes while they're there.
Q: One of the biggest highlights for me last year was the popularity of the developer sessions - they'll be back again this year?
David Lilley: Yes - we won't have more details on that until after E3, because publishers won't confirm line-ups until that point. But they've been very much in demand, and increasingly so over time. When we added them in Leeds and Old Billingsgate they were extremely popular.
But last year, when we opened up with Peter Molyneux, and had the likes of Yuji Naka, Tim Willets and other top guys doing presentations, it really did hit the spot. Attendees were really queueing up to make sure they could see as many as possible.
David Lilley is show director for the Eurogamer Expo. Interview by Phil Elliott.