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UPDATE | Cape Town's Gaming Expo is Definitely On - Everything you need to know

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For the past few months we've all been speculating that Cape Town is getting its own gaming expo, and then back to, maybe it isn’t

Today we can confirm that yes, Cape Town is definitely getting its own expo. While it may appear to be short notice, the Electronics & Gaming Expo (EGE) will be hosted at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on 29 to 31 May. 

UPDATE

You can now purchase tickets to the expo at Computicket, keep in mind that there are only 5 000 tickets available per day. 

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The build-up to the expo has been a bit of a bumpy ride, with many seeing it as another in a line of gaming expos for Cape Town that promised so much and ultimately drowned in their own ambitions. Looking at you GameX and Pixelated Gaming Xperience. There are many who seem to be completely unaware of the expo, but the truth is I became aware of EGE well around 18 months ago, when the organisers – Impact Exhibitions (who have run a successful annual boat show for almost 15 years) – began courting partners and exhibitors for a 2014 launch. Things didn’t get off the ground and the event was delayed on the back of suggestions from a number of industry and community members. Planning continued during the course of 2014 for the 2015 launch, but according to Johnny Malherbe of Impact Exhibitions that didn’t easily guarantee sign-ups to the expo. 

Of course, all that doesn’t excuse what many see as lack of information and marketing for an event just three weeks away. But the cycle has, almost a year after the last postponement repeated itself with some industry role players still remaining cautious to commit, except for the brave trendsetters (almost of the Cape Town-based PC distributors), who appear to have made the decision to take the plunge and test the waters for others. 

I sat down with Johnny Malherbe this week to try and tie things down regarding the plans, pricing and attractions at the 2015 Electronic & Gaming Expo at CTICC. 

The big question on everyone’s lips is what has changed since the slight lack of surety a few weeks back? Why is it now a definite go? 

By getting Sony PlayStation on board and Frontosa in a big way – we can now add all the other elements to host a complete gaming expo. Without anchor tenants all shows struggle - regardless of what they are. First time shows are very difficult to get off the ground because many people feel that they will come and visit the first show then look at getting involved in the 2nd year. Well here’s the thing – if everyone adopts that attitude there is no 1st show. We cannot have show 10 without the first one. 

Why do you feel so determined to bring a gaming expo to Cape Town? 

Our core business is organising exhibitions (I have been in the industry for over 21 years now). I am always looking at various exhibitions and events and markets – to see what could work in Cape Town. I have been investigating and doing research on the gaming industry for over 4 years now and the one thing I’m convinced about is that there is a need for a fully integrated gaming expo in Cape Town. Cape Town is the 2nd biggest economy in the country – so why not have a gaming expo? 

Many are concerned about the lack of marketing so far - is this something you were holding back on for a specific reason? 

Like all exhibitions – marketing to the general public is left until the last (probably 3 weeks or so before the event). The buy in from the exhibitors is the most important thing before we go “LIVE,” for without the exhibitors there is no show. We also wanted to make sure that the eSports and Console Gaming tournaments were on track, as well as getting Cosplay on board as well. Also we were only able to reach some of the people at Free Comic Book Day which only happens on the 1st Saturday of May anyway. 

Is it fair to assume you’ve started to discover the gaming industry is a minefield in South Africa – and maybe one you weren’t 100% prepared for? In fact some of the people you spoke to over a year ago appear to almost play a little dumb when asked by others. 

This again leads back to the buy in for first time shows, so we were expecting a bit of a tough time. A slight barrier has also been that many of the “Big Guns” are situated in JHB, therefore making it more expensive to exhibit in Cape Town. You are correct – we spoke to many of the “Potential Exhibitors” over a year ago and were given various reasons why last year was not a good idea – budgets, didn’t know about the show, need a long time to plan etc. Well it’s over a year now and we are getting the same story a year later. That’s pretty poor from some of them. 

Do you now think that the approach going forward needs to be different for a gaming expo compared to your long-running boat show? 

Our approach always was different to our boat show. We were the first in SA with a boat show and there are now 3 established boat shows in SA. The same principal for all exhibitions regardless of what they are about follow the same rule – is there a market in that place? The markets always dictate the size of the show. What amazes me is that it’s taken so long. There is no way that rAge gets all the gamers from Cape Town visiting each year. That’s why there are 8 Homemakers Fair exhibitions in SA. Take the show to the people and not the other way round. 

[Later in the day, I did have a phone chat with Martin Rutgers of Impact Exhibitions and I pointed out that perhaps they were a little unprepared for using social media to engage with their potential audience. He did concede that was one area they need to be more on top and that going forward that is something they needed to address. It appears to me that the boat show relies a lot less on social media wildfire for promotion and is something that Impact Exhibitions were not prepared for.] 

Jason Borea from Megarom suggested to me he felt more focus for this event should’ve been on the eSports component with stalls, vendors and exhibitors being more of an added attraction for attendees. What’s your opinion on this? 

My opinion is that if that is the case – then how come it hasn’t happened? Gaming tournaments have been happening for years in Cape Town. What we are proposing is a fully integrated expo covering all the aspects of gaming including – game development, tournaments, table top games, and accessories. This show will eventually morph into what the market can bear. There is a quote in the exhibition industry:
Research has shown that only by having the opportunity to see everything under one roof, will people take the time and make the effort to attend exhibitions in the numbers that will satisfy suppliers/exhibitors”. 

Now that the expo is a go, what can people expect at the expo and who is confirmed for the show floor? 

Confirmed for the show so far (with a number of signed applications on the way still) are:
Sony PlayStation
Lego
Make Games SA
Learn 3D
Friends of Design
The Animation School
Sky Castle (Table Top games)
Sinotec
Readers Den
SA Fact
Frontosa HEADLINE BRANDS that will feature at EGE are Bitfenix, INTEL, Western Digital Components, Corsair, D-Link, Gigabyte, HP, Kaspersky, Kingston, Cooler Master, Microsoft, Logitech, ADATA and Samsung. 

The other big question: What are the ticket prices and when (and where) can they be bought? 

Tickets will be available via Computicket for R70 or R80 at the door for a day pass. The weekend pass will cost R150 and allow access for all three days. The sales for the tickets should be available this coming Monday (11 May). 

What will it take to see EGE become an annual event for you – how will you measure this year’s success? 

The plans are definitely to make this an annual event and grow from strength to strength in years to come. Our thanks go out to all those exhibitors who have shown the faith and trust to back EGE 2015 for without them show one could never happen. We will assess all the info – including attendance numbers and the satisfaction of both attendees and exhibitors - and amend accordingly for the future years. 

In passing, I asked whether the timing for the event was a little out, given that E3 is in June, and the European gaming expos follow a little later in the year. “It is something we’ve noted, and for next year, we’re considering the options for a possible post-E3 date.” 

EGE: Website | Facebook | Twitter / Zombiegamer: EGE Hub

The show must go on..

Johnny has a lot of faith in what the expo can grow into, and his acceptance that everything has to start somewhere is the exact reason why, while it’s just weeks away. The show (or expo if you prefer) will go on. 

The question of course to you is… will you be there?

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