With just over two weeks to go, the 2012 EB Games Expo in Sydney is shaping up to smash its own record as the biggest video game expo ever held in Australia.
Over 15,000 tickets have already been sold and over 30,000 keen gamers are expected to swarm the Sydney Showgrounds at Olympic Park this October. To avoid missing out, tickets can be purchased online and at EB Games stores across the country.
Following its debut last year, we got to catch up with EB Games National Brand, Events and Marketing Manager, Debra McGrath, to chat about the second EB Expo.
MMGN: The EB Games Expo is gearing up for its second year in 2012, what did you learn from the inaugural expo last year?
Debra McGrath: A lot! The biggest thing as you have pointed out below is queuing and crowd management. The other would be managing people’s expectations. The EB Expo is not a media event, nor is it trying to be E3. It is an unique consumer show with high production values that aims to let as many people as possible get hands on with the best unreleased games whilst showcasing all the Australian gaming industry has to offer.
One of the teething issues reported last year was waiting times to play games sometimes exceeding two hours on the most popular games. What has been done to address this in 2012? Are there more playable games?
Improving queue management was our number one priority from last year, although the 2 hours lines were only during peak times and on a handful of games. There are always going to be lines for popular games, this is unavoidable; however we have spent a lot of time with our vendor partners minimising this as much as possible. We have doubled the amount of screens of playable games from the Gold Coast and are only letting another 1000 people in per session than last year and adding an extra 1000 seats in the Arena to take numbers off the show floor. We have introduced a better queue management system which will include wait time signage. This will allow attendees to better plan their day and come back when the lines have reduced. In addition we now have an entire new pavilion with Home Grown Gaming where people can go and experience gaming culture at its best.
After the Gold Coast last year, why did you pick Sydney?
We picked Sydney for a number of reasons but mainly for the venue. Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park is the perfect venue and allows us to set up base here and grow the event. Sydney itself is also a central location for most people to fly into, and with onsite accommodation available it makes for an all-round perfect location.
We’re often inundated with comments from kids in other states disappointed that it isn’t in Melbourne or Adelaide or Perth. Are other states any chance of hosting the expo in future years? Especially those outside of NSW, VIC and QLD, which often miss out on gaming events (EA’s First Play being the most recent example)?
We have signed a 3 year deal with Sydney, so never say never. With EB stores all around the country, we are looking at improving our midnight launches so that all states have something special, so stay tuned for that.
Going back to the beginning, we’ve never had something of this scale in Australia before, so what was the driving force that inspired EB Games to create such an event?
We have run our own internal event for nearly 15 years; where our staff have had the chance to play the best pre-release games and we have had the honour of hosting such international stars as Cliffy B, Warren Spector, Randy Pitchford and Dr. Greg Zeschuk. We thought it was a bit selfish to keep this to ourselves and wanted to share this experience with our customers. It has also allowed us to create an event that showcases the greater Australian gaming community and hopefully helps improve its profile to the general Australian public.
We’ve seen the list of playable and confirmed games as of early September. Are there any big announcements still to come?
We may have a few things up our sleeves, but my advice is not to wait for any more announcements, but buy your tickets now as some sessions are already over 70% sold out.
For those yet to buy tickets, what is still available? Will they be able to buy them at the gate?
As I mentioned, tickets are selling fast. We only have Friday Gamer Passes left (they get you access to both Friday daylight and twilight sessions). We also have general admission tickets still available for all sessions.
We have ordered a giant ticket booth to sell tickets at the gate but at this stage it’s looking like that will only be for limited sessions. So the answer for tickets available at the gate would be probably yes, but this isn’t guaranteed, so don’t risk it.
The Express and Ultimate Gamer passes allow attendees to skip the queues at selected booths. What does this mean for people without one of these tickets? Are they going to be stuck watching people walk in before them, or will people with Express and Ultimate passes be mixed in with those with General Admission?
The Express and Ultimate Gamers have paid a substantial amount of money for the privilege of accessing the Express queue line. This will be separate to the general admission line but will be a fair system to ensure that they get their money's worth without making the event a bad experience for general admission holders.
EB Live is an awesome initiative to see the people behind the games we love, and something rarely made available to the general public. After Peter Moore last year, what and who can we hope to see this year?
If you loved EB Live last year, you will be blown away this year. The publishers have stepped up the production levels of these presentations and they will be like nothing Australia has ever experienced. With still more to be announced, this year we have a swagger of international guests that will be headlined by Ed Boon Creative Director at NetherRealm Studios, Omar Kendall from SuperBot Entertainment, and Halo 4 Creative Director, Josh Holmes, from 343 Industries. Also featuring are Sega and Gearbox Community Managers, Assassins Creed III Associate Producer Julien Laferriere, and Assassins Creed III Mission Director, Philippe Bergeron.
Is the Expo different depending on what time you attend? Will there be different events on Saturday night, instead of Saturday afternoon, for example?
The core experience will be the same but there will be slight differences in shows. For example, Ed Boon is only presenting once on Friday morning. We have the premiere of Mass Effect: Paragon Lost on Friday night and on Sunday you will see more family orientated presentations in EB Live.
How family friendly is EB Expo? Particularly with so many of this year’s most popular games, such as Black Ops II, rated MA15+?
The event is an MA15+ event, so parents will need to be vigilant with what their children see; however we have gone to great lengths to try and make this an event that can be enjoyed by all. For example, we have separated the Activision booth so that Call of Duty and Skylanders Giants are not being played side-by-side. We have also created at Disney café area that will have a range of family friendly titles.
Finally, what game are you most excited about at the EB Games Expo?
Assassins Creed 3 and all the amazing stuff Ubisoft have planned around this game at the Expo.
Thanks for your time!
By Ben Salter
The EB Games Expo 2012 will be held in Sydney on October 5-7.