UNITED KINGDOM GAMES EXPO 2017
Due to previous commitments I could only get up to Birmingham for the Saturday of this event, same as last year. What wasn't the same as last year were the comments I heard when I first entered the main NEC hall. Last year the first comment I heard was from a chap talking aloud to his friend, "Is this all there is? It's not very big!" This year it had grown exponentially so that it wasn't just a little larger, it wasn't just twice as big, it was at least four times larger, probably five or six times. The free programme, as large as the one's you get at GenCon Indianapolis, had 6 (yes SIX) pages of exhibitors, over 200 trade stands. These were set out in sections with the line letter clearly defined on each intersection and the Letter & Number by each stand, all corresponding to the pages in the programme, and the wide aisles were named as Streets and Avenues, again both in the programme and on the floor of the hall.
Had to take a pic of this as FCB are my wife's initials (didn't know she owned a mobile cafe)
Going to the show we drove from home up the M25 to take the M1 and then the M6, the typical way to Birmingham and keeping with tradition the M25 turned into a car park a few miles before we hit the M1, thus making us arrive late and me with around 30 people on my "to see" list. Thankfully I managed to phone a friend (I had used up the 50/50 and I had no audience to ask) who took time out to inform my first meeting of my situation. Anyway, the reason for this preamble is my excuse for why I took very few photo's at the show, I really didn't have the time as I was wheeling from one side or end of the hall to the other, back and forth, side to side, following the clever plan I had drawn on my previously printed map of the trade hall.
TRIPLE ACE GAMES had a great stand displaying their games and game accessories but the focus point was their latest product, soon to be Kickstarted and one of the many memorable games I saw at the show, IRONCLADS. This is going to be a set of rules and a series of virtual blueprints so that you can build your own fleets on a 3D printer. Of course you have to own or have access to a 3D printer but from what I was told by one of the guys on the TAG stand, these are being designed so the low-end priced 3D printer can construct them. Another good thing about these plans is that they will make lots of small accessories that you can use to modify the ships in your fleets.
Many of the trade stands this year had multiple tables at their stand for players to play their games. This was one of the criticisms levelled at previous UKGE events, lack of space to play the games before buying them. THis hasn't been entirely corrected but it was far better and knowing the organisers of UKGE this will be one of the things foremeost in their planning for 2018 as they take great strides to turn UKGE into a UK Essen and then, no doubt, beyond. It is almost the size of US GenCon and from what I have read recently it is now the world's third largest games convention so it is only GenCon and Spiel being rated, size-wise, above it. The organisers have turned their comfortable family games weekend into a massive corporative event but without many of the largest games companies attending.
Of the attending exhibitors I would suggest that Mayfair Games were the largest independent company there, though of coure there was a huge Esdevium area where games were being played all day each and every day (I saw it on the Saturday and heard about Friday and Sunday being similarly busy), in fact Esdevium's area was the closest to being like a Spiel Essen exhibitor, with HAWK also having their usual impressive display, including the behemoth of a model that takes centre stage for them.
So, reading this you will notice that I am repeating how large the show is now and that may be off-putting for some. I know for a fact that gamer friends of mine didn't attend because the sheer size put them off going. This is a shame because what they didn't see was how well the organisers had set the hall out so that there were wide aisles between the rows of stands. I was in my chair wheeling myself along and apart from the odd person who walked across in front of me - one of whom ended up with a sore ankle - there was no problem manoeuvering around. I never managed to get to the Hotel where other games were being held but again reports back to me said they were equally busy yet attainable.
LANDER is another game being Kickstarted (if memory serves)
There did seem to be a lack of younger players compared to the early days of UKGE at the Masonic Lodge, but I am sure the organisers will quickly put me straight that there were more family-tickets sold and that because the hall was so vast (and I was focused on getting to my meet-ups) I simply didn't notice the youngsters. Spiel Essen is a fantastic event, as is GenCon Indianapolis, but they are so crowded (or their aisles are so small giving a misrepresentation of crowded) that taking small/young kids to them is generally not a good idea; they are not ideal for wheelchairs either. UKGE is wheelchair friendly, though I would like to blow a big raspberry at the person who closed the Disabled Toilet door and left it so the Red Dot for Occupied showed - I waited 5 minutes busting a gut before trying the door and finding it open and unoccupied. Amongst friends and family we would call the person who did this a Tuesday (you can work it out for yourself).
This year the Bring n Buy wasn't, as far as I know, in the main trade hall - if it was I didn't see it. Last year it took a phenomenal amount of money and paid out a super amount to Charity. This year I never saw it but I would bet it was nearly twice the size and three times as busy, so again my congratulations to the organisers for turning the small busy stand it used to be into a mahoosive enterprise.
As I already said, I only got to go round the traders hall in my time there, but it was a delight to see so many gamers enjoying the friendliness and hospitality of the event. There were over 200 trade/exhibitor stands making it possible to buy just about every game that has been launched over the last few years and a lot from way beyond that. The traders came from Europe, Eastern Europe, the UK (nice to see Wotan Games back up and running, with a double-decker bus) and so many old friends, popular companies, old and new companies.
UKGE is the place in the UK to go for finding that game you've been looking for, discovering new and exciting games, playing tournaments or free gaming amongst friends. It may be huge and it may be busy but, unless you are like I was, on a one day only heavily scheduled day, it is surprisingly also a place where you can relax, eat, drink and make new friends. My guess is that most attendees were there for the three day duration because apart from the odd few rushing around everyone else seemed to be taking their time, chatting with staff at the stands, playing games and generally enjoying themselves in an almost party mood.
There are hundreds of small games conventions around the UK and it is almost always fun to attend them as a social event. Somehow the organisers have managed to keep a lot of the social event from the old UKGE whilst growing to please the majority. Next year, if you didn't go this year, take a trip to the NEC and UKGE even if it is for only the one day. It is an experience games players will enjoy and talk about for months afterwards.
3rd Largest Hobby Games Con in the World
The UKGE team would like to thank everyone who attended and made this yet again a vibrant exciting convention that it is a delight to run.
UK Games Expo can now release its attendance figures for 2017.
Unique attendance (separate individuals) was 16383 and attendances (the sum of those attending each day) came to 30743.
On Friday 2nd June 2017 a total of 8749 people were at UKGE.
On Saturday 3rd June it was 13142 and on Sunday 4th June it was 8852.
These figures reflect a growth of around 30% unique individuals and 44% in terms of attendances / footfall. We attracted around 320 separate exhibitors on 275 stands.
UK Games Expo is currently the 3rd largest tabletop and hobby games convention in the world based upon unique attendee figures.
UK Games Expo Awards Winners 2017 We are happy to be able to announce the awards winner for 2017:
Best Family Game – Sushi Go Party
Best Children’s Game -Baobub
Best Euro Game – SubTerra
Best American Style Game – Dark Souls
Best Strategic Game – The Colonists
Best Card Game – Statecraft
Best Abstract Game – Ominoes
Best Miniatures – Dropfleet Commander
Best Role-Playing Game – Adventures In Middle-Earth Player Guide
Best Role-Playing – Syrinscape
Best Party Game – Chameleon
Best Expansion – Dropfleet Commander: Reconquest Phase Two
Best Accessory – Dropfleet Commander Modular Spacestation Pack
Best Miniatures Rules – Dropfleet Commander
Dates for UKGE 2018 Announced
The UKGE team can confirm the dates for the 2018 UK Games Expo.
Our 12th show will be held the 1st weekend of June 2018 on 1st to 3rd June. It will take place in Hall 1 and Hall 2 of the NEC and the NEC Hilton Metropole with some events in surrounding hotels.
We look forward to welcoming you all to the next Expo. More news in coming months.
Hotels: We will soon be confirming any deals we have for hotels. Watch out for a news letter in the next few weeks.
2018 Exhibitor Bookings: We are starting to take expressions of interest from exhibitors wishing to attend in 2018. We will process the actual bookings from 1st October (perhaps earlier) and will announce this at the time. We are attending Essen Spiel and so can arrange an appointment at our stand for exhibitors who wish to discuss attending UKGE 2018. For now if you wish to find out more please read this guide...