The Business of Games—Trade Shows

Trade shows are different than consumer-focused gaming conventions. At a trade show for example, industry participants have an opportunity to view the latest product offerings, buyers can meet suppliers and manufacturers and discuss orders, and professionals may attend seminars on how to improve their business—all of this without the pressure of fans filling the booth. While fans might love to attend for access to inside information on upcoming releases, typically attendance requires proof of a business relationship to the industry, whether retailer, publisher, distributer, manufacturer, designer, or member of the press. Some of the trade shows either dedicated to the games business or frequented by game companies include:

  • GAMA Trade Show, aka “GTS” (April, Las Vegas)—A show by the Game Manufacturers Association specifically for the hobby games industry. Incorporates both a seminar program and an exhibit hall. Seminars have covered such topics as copyright and trademark law, selling new game designs to publishers, and how to establish a unique identity for your retail store.
  • Australian Toy Hobby and Nursery Fair (March, Melbourne)
  • Licensing International Expo (June, New York City)—An annual marketplace for brands and intellectual property. Not exclusively a show for games, but noteworthy for the industry nevertheless. Licensing the right property can give a significant boost to a game company. This can also be a good venue for licensing game-based IP to other industries.
  • Collocated TGIFcon and ASTRA Annual Marketplace & Academy (June, Mashantucket, Connecticut)—The former gives designers, developers, and inventors the opportunity to meet with publishers and large retail chains. The latter, run by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, includes seminars targeted to retailers and sales reps.
  • TOY FAIR, aka “New York Toy Fair” (February, New York City)—The premier general toy show in North America, with more than 20,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors.
  • Chicago Toy & Game Fair, aka “Chi-Tag” (November)—Before opening to the public for the last two days, Chi-Tag focuses on game inventors and the educational value of games.
  • Protospiel (July, Okemos, Michigan)—A casual gathering of hobby game designers for cooperative playtesting. Also in attendance are a few publishers.
  • Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair, aka “Nuremberg Toy Fair” (February, Nuremberg)—The largest international toy and game trade show with more than 80,000 visitors and 2,700 exhibitors representing more than 120 countries. Of course, much of that isn’t games. And the games that are on display at Nuremberg are often pre-production versions.
  • China Toy Expo (October, Shanghai)—An opportunity to meet with representatives of manufacturing plants.
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