How are we (not)attending events – Survey results

Game Conference Guide Insights - May 2021

Over the month of April, I was conducting a survey asking various questions tied to attending events during the pandemic, in the near future and enquired about habits, good practices and experiences with the current situation.

Results were amazing, same as everyone who participated, shared the survey and supported it. In total, 285 respondents from 48 countries participated in the survey. Shoutout to the brave soul who posted the reason to go to an event is to meet with me! Cheers.

What is the data saying? What are the insights?

In some areas they are surprisingly unsurprising and following general trends. What is mind-blowing is the variety of how differently we are looking at events. All the answers are bringing a new perspective to not just organizers of events but also how we are expecting to interact with each other in the coming months and who knows maybe for the foreseeable future. 

Let’s cover the biggest elephant in the room. Are we hating or loving virtual events?

Out of those who participated in an online event, 53% would recommend attending one (37% saying probably, 16% strongly recommend), 26% would not recommend at all to attend one, 21% are not sure or they are saying it depends on many other variables.

Not surprisingly two of the main reasons why to attend an event (virtual or live) are activities lacking or struggling to keep up in virtual event environment:

1. Networking
2. Business

These are going to be dominant for sure even in post-pandemic environment. During pandemic it is harder to make new friends and/or generate leads than before (73%), only 10% are seeing an improvement in populating the contact lists. 12% are saying they do not see any difference (might be contributed to a large network developed already) and 5% couldn’t answer. 

While making new friends is definitely harder even with the increased number of tools at our disposal, closing deals / leads is telling us a very similar story. 23% don’t see any difference, for 45% respondents it is harder, 24% couldn’t answer yet, 8% are saying it is easier

Concerns and challenges when attending a live event

We identified the weakest points for events in general, but the biggest concern among all participants are health issues. In the multiple answer question, 74% of all respondents identified the biggest concern being Covid-19 followed by issues involving quarantine while entering or leaving the destination country (60%).

As the situation in Europe is improving and the vaccination programmes are advancing, travelling from country to country is complicated due to mandatory self-isolation upon entering. You can follow the current trends and situation at the borders in Europe here.

The other tensions and challenges identified were budgets in general (20%), 26% is worried about time spent travelling, social anxiety (15%), exclusivity of the location (15%) and only 15% are worried about CO2 emissions and the environmental impact. 

It is not a surprise to see, 70% of all respondents are saying they would attend a live event for networking purposes. In multiple answer questions, 55% highlighted also importance of Face to Face meetings, 34% picked also business lunches and dinners with friends, and 25% pitching / selling and business opportunities . 

We are picky about events

When it comes to habits and rituals before the events, 48% of all respondents do not see any change in preparation for events. Second largest group (23%) said they have less time to prepare (this can be put on account of more calls with the team and busier schedules when working remotely, and other elements when you don’t have dedicated office space), 20% said they have more time, and the rest is plainly not investing any time into preparations at all.

The place for online events is definitely there and they are here to stay for a while. They helped to bring a new audience and created a very good alternative to live events, which is visible in the increase of visiting events in the “1-5” group during 2020. 

Even though we can’t directly compare 2019 with 2020 due to different trajectory, it looks like we are picky when it comes to which events to attend (see the for results in groups above 5 events visited per year). This can be also attributed to busier schedules and shifting priorities once lockdowns happened and in general busier lifes after the first lockdowns.

Very interesting is the offering of events that currently covers all games industry needs the companies have (almost 42%), compared to those with opposite opinion, saying there are way too many of them (40%). It is almost precise 50/50 split. Among the smallest group (11%) they say there are not enough of them. The rest (7%) is not sure or couldn’t respond.

What the future holds for events?

What is really interesting to see as well is the event strategy for this year. Precisely 33% of all respondents are planning to reduce the number of events, while 21% are saying they want to reduce them significantly. This might be tied to the fatigue and not enough curation cited later in the survey that is reaffirming my theory of diluting the water with events offering and decrease in numbers in attendance.

20% said they will attend the same number of events. This is a my speculation, but it might be attached to those, who are attending events regularly and they have some rhythm - routine evolved. 18% wants to attend more events, which is also a clear signal for online events, their accessiblity and very wide selection. Only 5% said, they do not want to attend any event this year. 

Now, how about if travel is possible again?

The biggest group of respondents (51%) are going to be very selective where to go and which live event to attend. Bear in mind that this data point might change when initial fears from Covid-19 wears out and it is tied to the biggest concerns to attend a live event (see above). Out of all, 31% can’t wait to start networking and going to a live event, 7% decided to skip any live event this year. 11% is not decided yet.

And what we are expecting from the events in the future? More hybrid solutions leading to bigger inclusivity, easier accessibility, safer environment and getting rid of limiting factors like travel and budget. Well, it is going to be very challenging to achieve everything.

In any case, the future of events is going to be very interesting and Game Conference Guide will monitor any future developments.  

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Pavol Buday, curator of GCG

[Game Conference Guide is tracking games industry & game developers events, trade shows, festivals, conferences and events around the world.]