Gaining value from Essen Spiel
Spiel is one of the largest conventions in the tabletop hobby and is held each year in Essen, Germany. It’s an incredible event that I recommend every aspiring tabletop professional attends at least once in their lifetime.
For publishers, the immediate value appears as being an exhibitor, having your own booth and showing off your games. There is a lot to be gained from this but as a publisher who’s attended Essen for many years I still choose not to exhibit.
Here are some of the ways I choose to get value from the show:
Spiel could be considered as the major hub event for European hobbyists meaning a great deal of European companies travel to and attend the show. This makes it the perfect opportunity to find potential translation partners and to show them my games. This year, I’m meeting with 11 different publishers who specialise in translations at Essen and a single new agreement would likely cover the entire costs of attending.
A great number of European distributors will be attending Spiel and it gives me an opportunity to further expand into the EU markets. Additionally, other distributors from outside the EU are likely to attend as the show attracts a large international audience.
While it is not something I am personally looking to do right now, there are a lot of non-English companies that exhibit at Essen. They have some fantastic games and there have been a few where I’ve considered reaching out to make an English version. There are also countless designers looking to pitch their latest games and they will be happy to show you what they have.
There is a lot of value in building connections with my community and I use Spiel as a chance to meet with people in person, I typically try to organise a small meetup of some sort during the show.
International content creators
Many EU based content creators will attend Essen and the show offers a chance to meet them.
I believe anyone who exhibits at conventions should attend at least 1 show a year where they don’t exhibit. To use it as an opportunity to explore the halls, partake in demos, and see what other publishers are doing. Understanding the experience of an attendee and what works and doesn’t work for them is the best way to improve your own booth. With Essen being so large and so diverse, I find it the best show to gain these lessons.
Many manufacturers from China and the EU will attend the show and have booths. It’s a great opportunity to see their products, get a sample kit, and get to know the people you could be working with.
Parties and Events
A lot of industry events happen at Essen and while some are invite only, others have an open door and they can be the perfect way to make unexpected connections.
There are plenty of other great reasons to attend Spiel and many will easily cover the costs of going in the long-term, but hopefully this list helps you think of conventions in a different way as it isn’t just by exhibiting that you’ll gain the most reward.
Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!