As a spare time game developer and casual game player, I took a trip to the EGX show this weekend and came to a distinct conclusion.
By the entrance was the Indie section This area was generally staffed by the game developers themselves showing off their games, most of which weren’t finished yet. Some of the games on show here didn’t look promising. It’s not just the lack of polish, I expect that in a game that’s still in beta, but some just looked like poor copies of popular titles. I am pleased to say that these were a minority in this section though. The majority of the games on show were imaginative and interesting.
Moving down we came to the AAA games. I’ve never really understood the division line between AAA and other titles. After Saturday I think I’ve put my finger on it. To be AAA these days it has to be a sequel. Just another level pack for the game that did well last year. These games have huge areas of floor space dedicated to them, with impressive scenery and often live tournaments happening during the event. They also have large areas dedicated to queues, and teams of presenters who seemingly had as much to do with the game as the people they were herding around the stands.
Next came the hardware. Some very pretty PCs on display with lots of fluorescent liquid cooling. Can’t say I was too interested by these admittedly impressive machines. I’ve always built my own PCs and can’t see me stopping. I can plumb in my own fancy yellow fluid pipes when the time comes. I’ll probably add a fish tank pump too and have a bubbling yellow reservoir to make it look really evil and toxic.
A few merchandise stalls were selling the usual T-shirts and Mario caps along with the odd game prop replica.
Next comes the retro section. I don’t know who was hoping to do business here, but I was impressed at how retro they’d gone. Old portable CRT TVs with all the garish colour and flicker brought back memories.
Then a surprise for a video games show. Board games, or Table top games as they like to call themselves these days. I personally didn’t stop to play, maybe I should with the conclusion I was coming to. There was plenty of activity in this section, but not anywhere near the numbers Destiny 2 or Gran Turissmo were getting.
Finally, right at the end of the hall were the universities and colleges trying to attract students. Unfortunately, none of them were doing much trade. They seemed glad when we stopped by to look at the artwork and have a chat. It gave a feeling of going full circle from the Indie developers straight from college, trying to get an audience for their wares, through the mega corporations with more audience than they can handle, back to the people who want to mentor the next generation of indie developers at the front of the hall. Maybe some from the colleges will go on to be developers at the big studios in the middle of the hall, but if they do, I doubt we’ll see them at EGX.
So, my conclusion? It’s an entertaining day out where big studios are paying big money to sell the next part in the same old game series. Meanwhile the real talent is struggling to show off something different and new. The sheeple buy what the rest of the flock buy and walk right past the good stuff with their COD or Gran Turismo blinkers on. Once in a while, they should take them off and see what they’re missing.