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Indie Megabooth is so popular it has to add shared spaces, more changes


Indie Megabooth has a problem.

It's not something that's easy to bring up in polite conversation. Like a friend complaining that he has two dates in one night, or someone pouting because she has too much ice cream, the problem could easily be misconstrued as a humblebrag and brushed aside. But it's a serious issue.

Indie Megabooth is too popular.

"One of the problems we were running into, is that the amount of submissions that we have this year far exceeds what we can support," Indie Megabooth marketing mastermind Rami Ismail tells Joystiq.

This is a major roadblock because Indie Megabooth's goal is to promote the full spectrum of independent games. Even though the Megabooth takes up the most space of any exhibit on the PAX East and Prime show floors, it isn't enough to give every willing developer a spot. Indie Megabooth hosts 40 - 60 developers at each show – that's larger than Sony's booth at E3 – but this year, 150 developers submitted 200 games for consideration, Ismail says.

"We just don't have space for that," he says.

Luckily, Indie Megabooth has a solution. Or two.

Indie Megabooth's first plan of attack is to establish a "shared space" within Indie Megabooth. This will inhabit up to 20 spots in the exhibit, and will allow multiple developers to either share one space for an entire show, or to swap the space on different days. This will get more games into Indie Megabooth, and it will help out developers with smaller budgets, since they can split the costs.

The smallest space size in Indie Megabooth is 10 ft x 10 ft, and the price of that area is determined by the convention itself. Indie Megabooth Overlord Kelly Wallick says she tries to get group discounts with vendors to offset costs as much as possible, and she doesn't jack up the price of floor space for developers. PAX, for example, charges $1,500 - $2,000 for a 10 ft x 10 ft booth, so that's what Indie Megabooth charges as a base price.

On top of that fee, Indie Megabooth has shared costs that cover signage, marketing and other items that all developers use, and that runs from $200 - $500. Wallick says she normally keeps it closer to the $200 range.

"We are extremely cost-conscious and try as much as possible to reduce expenses, and provide alternative options and sponsorship for developers when we can," she tells us – such as the shared space.

Indie Megabooth is too popular The solution is shared, curated spaces
Another big change coming to the Indie Megabooth – and one that doesn't necessarily help its popularity problem – is the "curated space." This is a handful of games that the Indie Megabooth team hand-picks for the exhibit, reaching out to developers who maybe aren't aware of the opportunity, don't have the means of getting in, or normally wouldn't share games at events. Indie Megabooth may offer these developers some space for free, but that will come down to the funds, Ismail says.

The curated space will debut at PAX Prime, which runs from Friday, August 30 to Monday, September 2 in Seattle, Washington. It's a pilot program, so it will include just three or four hand-picked games scattered throughout the shared space.

The Indie Megabooth will be 600 sqft larger than its booth at PAX East earlier this year, with more developers, more games and more everything, Ismail says. A few games will be announced for the first time ever via Indie Megabooth, so the team is keeping that list close to its vest. When the lineup for Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime does go public, Wallick has "a particularly exciting announcement" to make, shrouded in secrecy for now.

"It makes sense to look into global markets since there are amazing indie games and fans of gaming all over the world."Kelly Wallick, Indie Megabooth Overlord

Indie Megabooth is composed of volunteers from around the world and one Overlord, Wallick, who is the only full-time employee. She quit her job at Infrared5 earlier this year to tackle the Megabooth head-on, and she already has big plans.

Wallick is taking a trip to Germany this year for GDC Europe and Gamescom, where she'll talk with organizers to see how Indie Megabooth can get involved overseas.

"Now that I am full time and have a bit of breathing room to think ahead, we're pursuing a variety of options to see what would work best for everyone involved," Wallick says. "It makes sense to look into global markets since there are amazing indie games and fans of gaming all over the world."

Just don't expect a standalone Indie Megaconvention any time soon.

"That's not what we want to do," Ismail says. "We want to have it next to the AAA stuff. We don't want to reach just the people that like indie games. We'd get a filter and we don't like that. We want everybody, whether they are there for Call of Duty or for Octodad or for Papers, Please."

Consider that a teaser for Indie Megabooth at PAX Prime. Octodad, a next-gen indie game, will definitely be there, since developer Philip Tibitoski is one of the marketing volunteers.

"It would be cool to have people go to PAX for the Megabooth," Tibitoski says.

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