AEG Finds Success at Gen Con with Daily Booth Transformations

It’s no secret that AEG is changing its ways. CEO and Chief Creative Officer John Zinser has blogged about the company’s new efforts to make ‘fewer, better games.’

The company says it wants to put more time, and effort, into the development and marketing of the games they make.

And that’s all fine until summer, and more importantly Gen Con comes, says Ryan Scott Dancey, AEG’s Chief Operating Officer.

This turns their “fewer, better games” concept upside down, as they want to market several titles at Gen Con leading into the important fourth quarter.

“We can’t just market one thing. But if we try to market across our whole line, we’re doing no better than the publishers who are pursuing strategies of releasing a lot of stuff and just hoping to get lucky,” said Dancey.

Their solution?

AEG treated Gen Con as four separate days, rather than one block of time.

AEG has a large, prominent space near the main doors of the exhibit hall. This comes from the many years they have exhibited at Gen Con.

This year, the booth was split into a sales area, which included a small room for meetings and inventory, an end cap, and a large product and demo area.

The company themed this large area differently each day of the show to spotlight key products with large colorful banners.

Dancey says this was possible due to inexpensive fabric backdrops made for them by a Chinese manufacturer. The lightweight panels are all the same size and fit over an aluminum structure.

The price of the four days was comparable to what a single manufactured booth would have cost.

The company planned their release schedule so the featured games in the booth would overlap, and not stack, with each other.

Here’s how Dancey explains the schedule:

Thursday, Day 1
“Edge of Darkness is a Kickstarter that is in the midst of delivery; hype is high for this game but we’re not asking retailers to stock it.”

Friday, Day 2
“Tiny Towns released earlier this year; it’s in the middle of its release year marketing and we think that the early adopters who helped make it a success are now giving way to the vast middle of the market for both players and retailers who are looking to support ‘good games they know.’”

Saturday, Day 3
“Featured the three Big Game Night games which were seen by gamers for the first time the Friday evening at the Big Game Night event. Those games are open to buy right now to retailers so this is the chance for those games to prove that people are loving them and will buy and play them – nothing says “good sales” to a retailer like seeing a booth full of happy players.”

Sunday, Day 4
“Ecos can’t be purchased at all. It’s a release that is coming in the 4th quarter, and the first time anyone will be able to buy it is at Essen in Germany (the other event that helps drive traffic for the winter holiday season). Ecos’ feature at Gen Con is the opening salvo in raising awareness about that game during it’s pre-order/pre-release marketing.”

The company even took advantage of the space behind the booth. Asmodee traditionally lines attendees up behind them as a waiting area to get games.

“There are hundreds of people standing around with nothing to do while they wait for the line to move. So we placed a fun riddle challenge on the back of our main booth area for those people to look at and puzzle over while they waited in line,” Dancey said.

Did it work?

AEG says they had record sales at the booth by a large margin. Dancey attributes that to giving people a reason to come back to the booth each day to see what they were offering.

He admits that is hard to quantify, but said they did more demos in the same space, than they did last year.

“Overall we think this was a total success. We’re not sure how we’ll evolve this concept for 2020, but it is very likely that we will continue down this road of morphing the booth regularly during the show,” Dancey said.

DISCLOSURE: Ryan Dancey is a Patron of Tabletop Wire. He has contributed financially to our organization.

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