The Brand Benefits of Publisher Conventions – BlizzCon

Conventions and the video game industry go hand-in-hand: there’s the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), Germany’s Gamescom, Comic-Cons, and more. Other than QuakeCon (and EA Play this year), it’s rare for publishers to host their own consumer-facing “mega event.” Most companies like Capcom, Ubisoft, and Nintendo share the stage and make special reveals during E3 (which is no longer open to the public) and other general gaming events.

Blizzard Entertainment is not like many companies, though as its 10th annual BlizzCon wrapped on November 4-5 celebrating all of the brand’s biggest franchises. Selling out in roughly 10 minutes, it is safe to say this annual convention is one of the most popular in the industry with no signs of slowing down!

Hosting a convention to promote your own properties and celebrate your fan base can be an extremely effective brand marketing strategy — evidenced by Blizzard. Publisher conventions can make fans feel rewarded, important,and valued. It gives attendees a chance to meet the artists and developers behind their favorite games, creating a personal connection that helps strengthen their brand affinity.

In order to understand why publishers should host conventions of their own, TriplePoint takes a look at what makes BlizzCon an impressive marketing tool, unique from other experiences, and what other companies can do to provide that same value. TriplePoint has taken all of this into account and has established five key BlizzCon 2016 brand marketing takeaways:


Surprising Announcements / Unique Information Distribution Structure

Each year, BlizzCon is home to new reveals and big surprises surrounding its IPs (World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch). Key highlights from this year’s BlizzCon included the eagerly awaited new Overwatch hero, Sombra, the Overwatch League announcement, Diablo 3’s upcoming Necromancer class, and Hearthstone’s new expansion Gadgetzan, and more. Interestingly enough this year Blizzard chose to separate its product news from esports news, with product on the first day and esports on the following day.

Blizzard’s strategy to lead its announcements with product news is because unlike product, which has more timing flexibility, esports stories need time to develop — tournaments need to be played and winners need to be determined. Having designated days for both types of stories ensures a steady flow of information for the press and consumers. Press will have enough time to cover, news will be easier to digest, and information won’t get lost — they can dominate the news cycle.


Watch the Best of the Best Play

Esports are another unique aspect of BlizzCon that is surprisingly not explored by other video game conventions.The best players from around the world gather to BlizzCon to showcase their skills and compete for huge prizes. The convention center is split into several parts where each space is devoted to specific tournaments in Blizzard’s gaming library. Having world championship tournaments during BlizzCon generates tournament results and team interview coverage, fandom, and an overall event spectacle.


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Network with Industry Professionals

BlizzCon serves as a mecca, drawing in fans from all over the world and from different backgrounds. Since there is something for everyone, BlizzCon was filled with cosplayers, community managers, artists, press, developers, representatives from other games, tech companies and more. BlizzCon is a dense concentration of video game industry professionals and offers immense opportunity to connect with key industry players.


Get Up Close and Personal with Devs and Artists

One of BlizzCon’s greatest strengths is being able to generate a personal connection with fans through intimate events like Signing Areas and Q&A’s. Often times at conventions developers have little time to talk about their games, only showing cutscenes and trailers of games without being able to provide details on other aspects — not the case at BlizzCon. Not only should developers and artists interact with press, but the community itself is just as crucial. Q&A’s set time aside for the community and helps them understand where developers and artists are coming from when designing a game. Blizzard understands this and does it well.


Hands-On Experiences

BlizzCon had many demo stations for Blizzard’s key titles, filled with new content yet to be released to the public. This concept is not new for video game conventions, but BlizzCon has the advantage of knowing virtually all consumers will be interested in all demo stations; therefore can optimize and personalize the content for the trade show attendees (vs. a content free-for-all at an event such as PAX). BlizzCon’s demo stations allow players to take their time, experience the new changes implemented into franchises they are deeply invested in, and provide valuable feedback. Sure, companies can host events for press to test a demo, but it’s equally important for the game’s community to experience it. It brings insight from different skill levels and backgrounds as well as tests what works and doesn’t work with its most important stakeholders — the fans.


Red Shirt Guy!

BlizzCon is a celebration of not only Blizzard’s video games but also its dedicated community they’ve cultivated for many years. Conventions can serve as an effective marketing tool, providing long-term value and building faith with your audience. In the end, players want games to succeed and to have fun. Personalized trade events such as BlizzCon are a great way to connect and celebrate with the fans.


TwitchCon 2016: Amazon’s Growing Twitch Presence

Twitch Prime

The content creator market is maturing and growing. Bigger and more established companies are beginning to see the value in investing in the space, and nowhere was that more apparent than at TwitchCon 2016. For the second annual event, TwitchCon relocated to San Diego and we began to see Amazon’s impact on Twitch start to take shape for the first time. Below are three observations on how the future of Twitch will be impacted by Amazon.

First off, the announcement of Twitch Prime made clear Amazon’s desire to integrate more directly with Twitch. Twitch Prime is an extension of their regular Prime service that adds perks specific to Twitch users, which, surprisingly, does not come with a price increase. It’s the first time that Amazon has extended Prime beyond their own core brand, and the perks for the inaugural month were as follows:

  • Free game loot – Tyrande Hearthstone hero, copy of Streamline, Paladins Bomb King weapon skin

  • Discounts on new-release box games

  • Ad-free viewing on Twitch

  • Exclusive emote & chat badge

  • One free channel Twitch channel sub per month

  • Everything else included with Amazon Prime

Twitch Prime

Second, Amazon has started positioning Twitch as a digital game storefront with Steam-like functionality by introducing a “Game Details” page and supporting Twitch Launcher software. Amazon first introduced this new functionality by including a copy of Streamline in Amazon’s Twitch Prime service. The “Game Details” page is just an addition to the page that each game already has in the Twitch directory. This page contains screenshots, a trailer, and a download/purchase link. Once downloaded, the new game can be accessed and managed in Twitch Launcher.

This new functionality will make for an interesting customer browsing experience, as they have immediate access to see who is streaming it or who has made videos of the game. Additionally, when a Twitch Partner streams a game that is a part of this system, they get a referral link that their viewers can use to go purchase the game. Twitch incentivizes the streamer to participate by giving them a 30% cut of each sale. Right now, the only game in this system is Streamline but there is no doubt more will be added.

Finally, Amazon hosted a launch party for their new game studio’s first titles: Breakaway, a “mythological sport brawler,” New World, and Crucible, that will surely set the tone for how other gaming companies participate in the event. Of course, all three titles have promised a high level of Twitch integration such as the announced Stream+ feature, which has similar functionality to Proletariat Inc’s Amazon’s launch party was experience-oriented and put the games front and center with attendees, offering demo access and alpha codes (etched on heavy metal coins, no less).

It‘s quite clear that Amazon plans to use their purchase of Twitch to further their initiatives, which is great for gamers and content creators. Amazon seems keen to make use of Twitch streamers’ influence on their viewers to create a store/publishing platform. How this plays out in a Steam-centric world will be interesting. Any more methods they can create or provide for Streamers to monetize their shows, in a way that benefits viewers, is great for the market as well. In short, TwitchCon provided us with plenty of evidence to be optimistic about what Amazon will be bringing to Twitch in the future.

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of April 25

Big steps are being taken in the games industry as the market expands into film and sports. Blizzard celebrates the launch of Whispers of the Old Gods with impressive player numbers, Valve and Lionsgate partner up, and ESL starts its own channel for eSports fanatics. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal is getting ready to add some Pandas and Dragons into their line-up.  Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of April 25