A PAX Roundup

When exhibiting at something like PAX, you need to think about what exactly you’re trying to get out of it. Where your game is finished and available for sale already, your “Call to action” at PAX would be for people to buy your game. Black Annex isn’t finished yet, it isn’t even in beta and there’s no publicly available demo for people to play, so what is the “Call to action” for attendees who saw Black Annex at PAXAus? Three things, in order of priority (this doesn’t include vague things like “Get excited about Black Annex! Tell your friends!”, these are measurable things).

  • Follow @manfightdragon on Twitter
  • Vote for Black Annex on Steam Greenlight
  • Visit blackannex.net

For media at PAX, the call to action was:

  • Write something about Black Annex on the internet.

So lets talk about how I expressed these calls to action to the people I met at PAX (or communicated with online before/during/after PAX), and what kind of result it all had.

The first thing I had to do was prepare media for Black Annex at PAX. I wrote about 190 emails individually to media people who were granted media passes to PAXAus. For every person I emailed, I made sure I already knew a little about them. Do they follow me on twitter already? Do they follow me back already? Have I talked to them before? Have they written about me online before? What kind of stuff do they write about online? etc.

I build a huge spreadsheet of all this information in one place, and spent about three days (one month prior to PAXAus) writing all the emails up. I asked Mark Serrels (Kotaku Australia) for some opinion on how/when to send emails to press. Among the advice he gave, he also published an article on KotakuAU (which I think aggregated to Kotaku US maybe?) where he mentioned the insane effort I had put into press contact. You’ll notice the effect this article had on my Greenlight stats later in this post.

The emails I sent all were about 2 paragraphs long. Here is an example of one I sent:

“Hey, Dave! It’s Lance here (@manfightdragon on twitter, guy making Black Annex, http://www.blackannex.net, don’t act like you don’t know me). Anyway, you’ll be at PAXAus, yeah? I’m in the “Indie showcase” there, at booth 2330 specifically (theres a map app thing here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/pax-aus-2013/id657630506?mt=8 ) . If you don’t come say “Hi” to me at some point, I’ll be a big sad baby forever because I am literally a child.

 
So yeah, I better catch you there at some point!
 
(I’m also on the indie showcase panel at 8:30PM on Friday but that’s boring you don’t have to do that)”
Now, Dave already followed me on twitter, and we had talked in the past and he had DMed me his email address, so I didn’t need to mention twitter to him as we already have a relationship there. But, almost every email I wrote to press that day ended with:
“(PS. tweet me maybe, @manfightdragon)”
post email twittersSo I wanted three things from this exercise. Email replies saying “I will come say hi!”, people to actually come and say “hi!”, and people to follow me on twitter. The most immediate result was twitter follows (emails were sent on the 24th, you can see an immediate spike followed by steady growth.). About 80% of email I emailed replied, and about 90% were “Yeah, I’ll come see you!”. I had a short dialogue with everyone who replied.
So that was the main action I took to prepare for PAXAus. I hadn’t updated this website since getting back from E3, as it’s not really a marketing tool in any way at all.
So lets look at what happened during, and just after PAX in any measurable way I can so far.
The Press: The most immediate press results were in the form of tweets, here’s most of the ones I can find that happened during PAX (or just after):

Articles went online starting from the first day, and are still continuing now. Here’s a few I’ve seen so far:
http://techgeek.com.au/2013/07/21/indie-showcase-black-annex/
http://operationrainfall.com/pax-aus-2013-black-annex/
http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/07/i-checked-out-black-annex-at-pax-australia-and-met-a-kindred-spirit/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/australia-culture-blog/2013/jul/22/pax-australia-penny-arcade-melbourne
http://www.pcauthority.com.au/Feature/350923,pax-australia—three-days-of-gaming-costumes-and-queuing.aspx
http://www.capsulecomputers.com.au/2013/07/inside-the-aussie-indie-showcase-at-pax-aus/
http://games.on.net/2013/07/australias-got-talent-the-indie-pc-games-of-pax-australia-2013/
There’s a few others floating around, but Google Alerts is probably the most awful way to try to track this kind of thing, so I can’t pull up a list of them easily right now. A huge part of the press result was meeting so many people, and I’m not in a lot of discussions in regards to further marketing opportunities, so this will span a fairly large time-frame.

pax twitersTwitter: At the booth, we had mints with our twitter handles written on them, and I had business cards with my twitter name. The mint trays also had little tags sticking out of them with @manfightdragon written on them. Twitter followers are probably one of the best things to get out of something like PAX, because they’re people who care about you, or your game, and they’ll help promote it for you. If you say something interesting, they’ll hopefully retweet it and spread it around super-fast. Twitter followers, for me personally, is the most valuable thing to have in promotion. Other people might be better that harnessing Facebook or Google+ but I can’t get my head around how to use those effectively. So, overall, a great result in twitter followers. I was telling a lot of people face-to-face, on camera, or on the panel “Follow me on twitter”. I wasn’t giving anyone my email address or any other way to contact me.

pax greenlightGreenlight: Okay, let’s talk about Greenlight for a bit. Everyone wants to talk about Greenlight, right? Well. PAXAus was, easily, the biggest Greenlight spike I’ve had in a while. It’s not as big as a fantastic RPS article, or getting a storm of KotakuUSA+PCGamer in one day, but it was still really REALLY good. Also, just out of interest, notice how a KotakuAU (And I think it went on KotakuUS at the same time) article gets more visitors (yellow) but less “Yes” votes (green). Where as an article on RockPaperShotgun gets less visitors, but the traffic you do get are more likely to vote “Yes”. Target your marketing!

Ahem, anyway. Yeah, so PAX had a great result, partially because a KotakuAU article went up on Day 1, but also because one of my big “Call to action”s for visitors was to go to Blackannex.net, which has a big Greenlight button on it. Greenlight doesn’t tell you exactly where people are coming from who see your campaign, so it’s hard to get a result on that kind of thing. I’m interested to see how Greenlight fares as a few more articles go up over time in the post-PAX period, and which spikes I’ll be able to correlate to what events.

So yeah, PAX was a big marketing success. Now I have to actually make a game, I guess…

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