With most of the gaming world looking towards Earls court in London this week for the Eurogamer Expo – I thought it would be nice to sit down with the Managing Director and co-founder of Eurogamer to find our some more information about the Expo as a whole.
Rupert Loman founded Eurogamer with his brother Nick back in 1999 from their parents garage after hosting a series of successful Quake tournaments with friends and people which they had come to know online through bulletin boards.
After the site grew to a substantial size – it was decided that a collection of the staff and a number of gamers should get together to enjoy video games once again – thus the first Eurogamer Expo was born!
I managed to grab five minutes with Rupert to ask him some more questions…
For those who don’t know, how did the Expo first come about? Were you just sitting there one day then suddenly snap your fingers and say “Let’s do an E3 in the UK!” or was it something else?
It was around Christmas 2007 that we came up with the idea of doing the Expo. The original goal wasn’t to create a huge exhibition like E3, but actually we wanted to get closer to our online community by putting on a live event for them – just some games and gamers in a room having fun. It was only after the first event in 2008 (when all 4,000 tickets sold out in advance of the event) that we realised what an appetite there was for such an event. As there was no other similar gaming event running at that time in the UK, it was a case of the “right place at the right time” and it’s grown incredibly quickly ever since – to the point where we are now a fixture on the major gaming events calendar globally.
What’s been the biggest hurdle in getting the Eurogamer Expo to the monumental position it is in today? What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in regards to the Expo?
At the very beginning we decided we didn’t want the show to be like other trade shows. We wanted to create our own unique style, which I think we’ve achieved – because of the way we lay out the show, the way we light it, the way we curate the content and so on. I guess that was because we’ve been to many events ourselves so we knew what we didn’t want it to be like! Part of this process involved creating a new business model which is different to other gaming events – instead of allowing publishers to build massive, loud stands (at huge cost) we decided to go with a rental model – whereby we source all of the hardware and build all of the stands ourselves and then invite publishers to rent them from us. That way, no publisher can dominate by throwing money at building ever-bigger, more expensive stands. We also insisted that every game on the show floor must be playable. That was difficult for everyone to grasp at the beginning and it’s taken a while for everyone to understand the model and why we do it that way. Particularly publishers who are nervous about their unfinished code being played by the public who may not understand that it’s not the final game. But now it’s been successful I think everyone understands why we do it like this – the games do the talking and publishers can reach tens of thousands of avid gamers at the show (and millions more online!) for a fraction of the cost of a show like gamescom.
Is 2012 the biggest Expo so far in terms of attendance?
It sure is – we’re expecting 50,000 people to attend over the 4 days.
You already have Eurogamer offices in other parts of the world, have you ever thought of holding another Eurogamer Expo anywhere else?
It’s definitely something we’ve considered, but we don’t have any plans right now and we realise it’s going to be very difficult to do (it’s hard enough doing it in London!). But we definitely want to do more events…
It’s no secret that you’re a very successful guy, what advice would you give someone who wants to become the ‘next Rupert Loman’?
That’s very kind of you to say! I’ve been very fortunate to do “games stuff” for a living and do it on my own terms. I think we’ve done well to stay independent which gives us the freedom to do whatever we want – which means sometimes doing things that don’t make any money but improve the experience and the long-term reputation of the websites or events.
Without obviously ‘picking favourites’ which publisher is usually the most fun to have at the Eurogamer Expo?
That’s a tough one! Every year more and more publishers are getting into the spirit of the show – this year we have more competitions, tournaments, giveaways, parties and meet-ups than ever before. As it’s grown more and more, things are happening at or around the show that we don’t even know are going on! That’s one of the nicest things, to find out that some people are planning their year around attending the Expo – choosing what they are going to wear, planning their route around the show, meeting up with their friends, deciding which sessions they are going to watch and so on. It’s a bit like a music festival now – no two people will have the same Expo experience this weekend.
Finally, what game are you most looking forward to seeing on the showfloor?
I’m looking forward to getting hands-on with the Wii-U of course, but I’m mainly looking forward to seeing the developer sessions. We’ve made sure that every session features some unique content – whether that’s a new trailer, or a part of a game that has never been seen before etc – so I think people are going to love those. And getting to hear the guys who make the games is very inspiring.
Rupert, thank you very much.
The Eurogamer Expo 2012 is being hosted in its current home of Earls Court, London on the 27th to the 29th of September (that’s really soon) Some tickets are still available on the official site but stocks are limited so act fast!