Another year of Gen Con is in the books, but there's still some work to be done. Here's RPG Blog 2's grades for some of the company booths at this year's convention. The grade considers a mix of visual appearance and presentation, convention buzz, and overall booth experience.
Please note this is just my perception of things. A company may receive a C+ here, but that doesn't mean they didn't have a wildly successful convention from their point of view. Likewise, a company receiving an A may have burned through their trust fund money thanks to lavish demos and booth displays, and will fold in a year. (Actually, several publishers I spoke to said it was a really good year for sales, so that's encouraging!). But perhaps some of the notes here will be useful for companies or prospective exhibitors to consider for next year.
They came in with a larger booth this year, with plenty of available demo space.
Burning Wheel: B+
Small, but busy and engaging of prospective customers.
Catalyst: Split Grade
RPGs get a C, due to some unfortunately standoffish booth personnel when I tried to get info on Eclipse Phase, but the rest of the booth was a healthy A- for a whirlwind of demos.
(EDIT: Adam Jury of Catalyst contacted me personally about this issue, and couldn't have been nicer in working to resolve it. Great work, and great outreach).
Cubicle 7/Adamant: B+
Kind of a back location, but they were busy talking to gamers almost every time I ventured that way. Friendly, patient booth staff.
Dwarven Forge, Fat Dragon Games, Hirst Model Arts, and the Miniature Building Authority: A
All 4 of these companies did an equally splendid job setting up and displaying their scenery and miniatures.
Exile Game Studio: D+
Recessed, dark booth didn't do them any favors. There's always next year.
Fantasy Flight: B
These guys are always busy, but more accessible info on their RPGs would be nice (though the Warhammer 3e display case was nice, if it not hugely informative. I tired to get a pic of it, but found out after I came home that a glare rendered the pic unusable).
An expanded booth, a new display, plus Louis Zocchi as a Guest of Honor equals a top grade. Could perhaps clean up a bit on the outside display.
Gaming Paper: B+
Came into Gen Con virtually unknown, left with a healthy amount of buzz.
Goodman Games: C+
I think they could have done a better job displaying the majority of their titles than just stacks. More vertical displays would be nice.
Green Ronin: C
Good-sized island booth, but being in the dim light back by the electronics area didn't do them any favors, Dragon Age tie-in or no.
Indie Press Revolution: B+
Demo space didn't appear as expansive this go-around, but they still do one of the best jobs at the convention of engaging customers and cranking out the demos.
Nice, navigable booth, but I missed the in-booth demos, which in years past were a big draw and some of the best at Gen Con. From what I heard, they had some GMs fall through at the last minute.
Margaret Weis Productions: B-
There were so many people in the booth at one time that it got confusing. Otherwise, solid, if unspectacular.
Mind Storm Labs: A-
One of the best knacks for aesthetics at the convention. Nearly everyone comes away impressed, even if it isn't their exact cup of tea.
Man, they have a lot of product lines, something you realize when you see them all in front of you. Nice display of new and recent Traveller products.
The only way this could have been higher is if they sold out of Pathfinder completely. Pathfinder was the show's big product and big buzz, even more so than many expected.
Pinnacle/Studio 2: B
Definitely caught some word of mouth on the $10 Savage Worlds Explorer Edition. They should really stress promoting it as much as possible.
All they have to do is put out their dice, and folks come running.
Rogue Games: B+
Really engaging with customers. Good game pitch. Looked completely wiped by late Saturday.
Rootjack Pirate Energy Drink: B-
I'd say 8/10 people I talked to who tried this root beer-ish drink liked it. but even if they couldn't help it, not being able to sell the actual product in the Exhibit Hall (it was available at the RAM) was a downer.
Troll Lord Games: B
Clean, with lots of room to navigate, but it was hard for me to get a good, exact answer on a couple of product questions.
White Wolf: B+
I'm not a White Wolf player usually, but they do a great job of staffing their booth with affable, knowledgeable personnel.
Wizards of the Coast: B-
Announcing their 2010 campaign setting and the $5 4e Player's Handbook promo saved an otherwise underwhelming convention. Still the big dog, but a quiet show by their standards.