IGX – or Indian games expo – (which, as it reads on its website claims) is India’s largest video games showcase focused purely on consumers, and it’s coming to Mumbai this November! Well, its 14 November, coincidentally also happens to be Children’s Day, and Day 1 of IGX is nearing its end (while writing this report).
The thought of giving India its very own games expo was a noble thought indeed and it certainly managed to turn quite a few heads (read thousands) on social media. But, when you create anticipation, you need to back it up with an experience which will have a lasting impression on the audience.
The gates for the event were to open at 11:00 am today, but by the time we arrived around 11:30 am there was a serpentine line awaiting us with hundreds of eager young boys and girls (but mostly boys) wanting to get their hands on some of the games which were going to be on display at the expo. It was a pleasing sight to see that many parents had also accompanied their children to witness what was on offer at IGX, but they were in for a few surprises.
Firstly, there was no proper accountability of the already registered visitors as against the ones who were looking to get registered on the spot. While speaking to a couple of girls who were at the registration counter near the security check they revealed: “We were told to help out with the on-spot registrations, as well as keep track of the ones who had already registered online but hardly a few hundreds have come to us, they all simply entered and began visiting the booths and trying out games.”
Once we entered the venue after the security clearance, which once again was flawed as no one’s bags were scanned for any harmful substances, we made our way through the sea of humans towards a few of the stalls which were visible from the entrance itself. But, to our amazement that was it… there were only a dozen of stalls which were present at the venue. We began scanning through the stalls and found it to have a good mix of a couple of game development studios like Apar Games and Vanishing Point Game Studio, along with a couple of merchandise stalls like Psycho Store and Superhero Toystore; a couple of hardware stalls as well as a couple of game retail stores.
There is a flat price for the stalls (approximately 3 feet by 3 feet) for around Rs 30,000, over the course of the two day gig; we believe its a little on the higher side when we look at the kind of exhibitors coming for the event, and this thought was also resounded by a few of the other local game development studios (read indies) whom we had interacted with earlier. “You can’t expect an indie like us, who is struggling to fund our games in the first place to shell out Rs 30,000. I believe the organisers could have thought of different avenues to recover cost and built an indie stand to promote games developed by local developers instead,” said an indie developer, who preferred to stay anonymous.
Coming to the primary reason for holding India’s first games expo (as the organisers claim) – the consumers, well the feelings were once again largely mixed. While on one hand it was heartening to see even differently abled kids holding their parents hands and going from stall to stall exploring the cool stuff on display, there were plenty of disappointed youngsters who felt that both the tournament as well as the gaming experience was not managed well and they expected a lot more.
A few irritated visitors took to social media as well:
Shone Kelkar, a student from Pune posted on Facebook: “Pathetic experience….If we wantd to play single player then why would we come all the way to IGX, we can even do that in our house…..Most stupid concept ever”
While another student from Pune, Anup Agarwal posted: “Don’t b at igx because to play one round u will hv to wait 4 1 hour in crowded que nd in tournament this shit people select 20 random people and then they give us the reason of too many people are participating”
Apart from the tournaments having long queues and also the organisers not anticipating the overwhelming response, a few of the consoles at the PlayStation booths also faced malfunctioning, leading to more irritant fanboys.
Such experiences will not do well for the name of the event going forward and if the organisers are planning on scaling up things next time around, they know the one most important thing that they have to look after the most.
But, in between all this chaos the cosplayers were the stars of the gig with them going round the venue in their home made attires, playing different characters from the world of games. Among the one participating we caught up with the petite and pretty Gauri (who goes by the name Gaurilla) on the experience of being at IGX. “I have been cosplaying for four years and it feels great to be acknowledged by many visitors, especially if they recognise the character you are playing that given day (*winks*)! I believe its a good start to the event, the turn out is great, but I guess the organising team didn’t anticipate such numbers.” Gaurilla is among the handful of cosplayers who are taking part in the cosplay competition being organised by StrayDog.
IGX is certainly a great thought to begin with, but now what’s more important is to sustain the momentum tomorrow and look at improving the experiential quotient for the fresh lot of visitors, who couldn’t make it to the event on Day 1.
According to our sources, the entire event has cost the organisers a whooping Rs 25 lakh, which will partly be recovered by the backing from the primary sponsor in Sony PlayStation and from the stalls sold. But, since the event is in its first year it is understandable for the organisers to focus more on creating a buzz and being called the first to taking a bold step in creating a platform which caters to the needs of the consumers; that being said the entire event seemed to have been rushed and not well thought out, which has led to a mixed response from the visitors as well as the ones who couldn’t make it to the gig this time around.
Now that’s some food for thought for the organisers. All the best for Day 2!