This conceptual entry for the games industry is one I've had in my collection of notebooks. Many of us know about some game publishers throwing a convention each year for their customer base. One that comes directly to mind is "Sony Online Entertainment", which this has been going on for nearly a decade. In which case I'll use them as an obvious example as I explain how my concept will work out.
For those not aware what a game publisher annual convention entails for its customer base. Well there are various activities that are held. For example the most notable at least to me are the costume contents. That are contests held for the most note worthy costumes from one of the game worlds that players enjoy. Besides that there are game developer "meet and greets" regarding existing or new games in development from that particular game publisher. There may be some panel talks or workshops held about such and such a game world, particularly an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online). There are most famously beautiful models dressed up for certain games being marketed at the time. Where game booths are concerned that showcase playable demo's for a future new game title or expansion to an existing game. And, lastly goodies or what is termed as "Swag", which is merchandising items handed out freely at the game booths.
To be honest I've never had the pleasure to attend such a gamers convention. So if i missed out an obvious show room floor activity you the reader will know why. The reason why I've never attended such a much lauded event is basically due to financial cost. It's not in my personal budget, which may be the majority reason why many gamers only read (watch videos) about such events and not attend them personally.
My concept would change all that by giving game publishers a bridge to reach their customer base in the virtual space. Hopefully as the real world gamer convention is being held by the game publisher at a bricks & mortar locale. In Sony's case it's usually in California near their San Diego headquarters or in Nevada typically Las Vegas.
Let's take three of SOE's MMORPG game worlds as part of this example. One being fantasy in "Everquest 2", one being sci-fi "Star Wars Galaxies", and one being for the youth / children demographic of "Free Realms". This is basically the 3 basic food groups of the MMO gamer out in the world to date.
Now picture in the fantasy, sci-fi, and youth MMORPG that SOE creates in my example a exhibition game zone. That will be themed each year differently consisting for a newly created free content to the game. Such as a village for "Everquest 2 & Free Realms" and a city in "Star Wars Galaxies". For players of all levels to mingle in the shops selling exclusive in-game items for that years convention. Of course a series of story plots following that years theme to the convention will be devised for a set of quests. Next all game worlds will have low to mid player level dungeons developed that tie into the starting village / city scape's or known as the exhibition zone. There will be of course a high level player raid instances developed for all other players in "Everquest 2" or "Star Wars Galaxies".
One additional item these exhibition zones will be like a booster (action) pack using SOE's terminology. Where like a "Worlds Fair" in reality it is left behind for the local populace to enjoy for years to come. In this case it would become part of the MMO game world space delivered as free content. Courtesy of that years particularly themed game publisher convention as a thank you to its online MMO customer base.
If the game publisher wishes to get real fancy in the village / city zone. Develop a media player window set off in a virtual theater location. Where either a live streamed feed via web cams to the convention show room floor is displayed. For gamers that wish to hang out in such a spot in order to tie together the real and virtual conventions as a concept. Where such a media player can also stream "Live or Recorded" events from game developers for whatever is held that day in an activity schedule. So the online gamer in those exhibition zones can feel a part of the game publisher convention but by being logged into their MMO of choice.
Now if a game publisher wants to showcase games that are not of a MMO genre. These additional details would allow an online web gamers convention to be showcased. To its customers at large who are not subscribers to an existing MMO or to the game media press not able to attend personally.
Consider a portal website that is developed just for that years convention. Showcasing various sections that are invite only such as to the game press in attendance. Or to customers / gamers at large that are curious enough to watch what is ongoing at the real convention room floor.
Events showcased through such a web portal can be similar to what may occur as an E3 trade show convention. But instead of getting it second hand from a plethora of the media press. The game publisher can structure it in such a way that you only see what the game publisher wants you to see. For example, any game developer panel discussions, video game trailers for new or existing games, exclusive Q&A game developer chats just for the web portal audience (usually held right after the scheduled convention floor presentation and Q&A), and lastly a game demo that is playable via a Cloud Computing" service. This last one will take more finesse to explain, picture a service like "Onlive" that is subcontracted by Sony. To tie in a playable game demo that is typically only shown as a convention game booth. But thanks to the wonder of "cloud computing" those at the web portal can play a game demo of a: Sony PlayStation 3, PSP portal game, or just some other PC game title. Web portal users can either plug in a USB game pad controller on their computer systems or use an existing PC keyboard and mouse set-up to play the game demo.
Numerous marketing promotions abound for the game publisher to offer via the MMO exhibition zones or through the online web portal. For instance a yearly sweepstakes can be held for its own customers that attend the virtual game convention. Where the prize is an all expense 3 day 2 night trip to next years onsite game convention being held. Via the web portal to the convention there can be exclusive beta codes handed out to the game press or its registered customers to the web portal for a new game title. Secondary contents held in both the exhibition zones of an MMO or the web portal for merchandising swag. (T-Shirts, Hoodies, Mugs, Hats, Posters, Free Select Game Titles, etc...)
All of this is Doable Today as a concept. It just takes the ingenuity of a game publisher to be invested in such a pursuit. For the game publisher its a "No brainer" outlet to reach their customer base via a online virtual space. This novel concept would allow game publishers that have no such annual convention in real life. To hold one each year just in a virtual online space. And, for those that do like SOE to augment they're existing game convention with this "tie in" virtual event each year.
The customers win with free content, and exposure to game titles that will exist or currently do in the MMO space. And certainly game publishers will by promoting their game title products in a unique outlet that can be celebrated each year exclusively.