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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Ribarro

Marketing Tactics I saw at Pax East 2024

Intro here with witty commentary

I've always wanted to delve a little deeper into what exhibitors do to get passers-by to stop at their booth. What sort of tactics are they deploying? What kind of free stuff are they offering? What merch are they selling? I tried to observe as many booths as I could over the course of PAX East 2024 and this was what I found.

There were some common themes I saw amongst booth-goers:

  • Receive (Insert free thing) when (insert action to obtain free thing)

  • Free Stuff Strewn About The Table

  • Honorable Mention (Nothing specific, but still caught my eye)

  • Something I've never seen before

Lets take a closer look!

Receive (Insert free thing) when (insert action to obtain free thing)

  • Farming Simulator had a thematically appropriate banner with cows and vegetables! Things I believe farmers are around most of the time.

  • Teatopia used a Kickstarter campaign to entice people into signing up to 'follow' the campaign, not actually paying money. Do so, and you'll get a PAX-exclusive keychain! Utilizing FOMO (Fear of Missing out), you only have one chance to get the exclusive keychain.

  • This table for Forge of Fae had computers setup and a bunch of swag strewn all over the place! It's hard to ignore (seemingly) free stuff, so I approve of this method of getting people to pay attention to your table 👌

  • Quinnipiac University had a table showing off one of their student companies. They had (pricey) merch, stickers, and some other stuff repping the school. Also, Quinnipiac did some raffles with cool prizes! A good way to harvest emails and promote the school and degree programs further. One thing that always bugged me about raffles is what if only one person signs up? Do they get everything? I guess that's one thing to watch out for when doing these types of marketing beats. Make sure a ton of people sign up to get your moneys worth.

  • Nintendo had a booth with Pokemon stuff, naturally. There was free stuff available though! All you had to do was play through a demo OR draw a picture on their chalkboard (which I did not get a picture of). In exchange, you would receive a little folder with an exclusive medal as well as a Pokemon TCG pack. Not bad!

  • There was a booth setup and selling Ocarina's (those musical instruments from Legend of Zelda). They had a little promotion going on where if you bought specific Zelda-themed Ocarinas you could get a sticker as a prize! It's a good way to start a conversation and reel in a potential customer if they linger even for a second.

  • Pin City used their booth to promote the game itself AND if you showed proof of a wishlist then you got a free button. If you're looking to beef up the numbers for Popular Upcoming then I think they chose a good beat. All their messaging around the booth prioritized wishlisting the game over anything else.

  • Nomnivore Games was promoting their card game with an additional mini-gacha-game to sell merch. You could spin a wheel for some pins, and if you spend $100 or more then you could do a pin spin for free! A little pricey if you ask me for a single free spin, but keep it in mind if you ever sell Merch at a con.

  • No Love Lost had quite a few promotions going on at their booth! First, you can take a spin of the wheel and gain a prize. Then, if you posted about the game on social media you were entered in for a T-shirt contest! Next, you could play matches for high scores to spin the wheel! To top it all off you could get an exclusive in-game item from playing the game at PAX and if you were one of the first 10 players of the day you got a free tote bag! Lots of good stuff going on at this booth which ensured it was popping every day of the con.

  • Space Friends was selling exclusive pins if you paid $20, which also gets you the game + soundtrack!

  • Idahoan is a potato skins booth I've seen in PAX before, and this time they had a sort of raffle for free stuff. All you had to do was go in, play Overcooked, and then be entered to win cool stuff! At the end of the big line was also some free food samples and a giant potato picture booth Not sure about the specifics, but a great way to get booth-goers to do one more thing. 'Oh you entered the raffle? Try the food stuffs and take a picture!'

  • Dennel Cake was a beat-em-up game with a really cool challenge for PAX-goers. Everyday they would keep track of the highest 'combo' score and tally it on a whiteboard. At the end of each day they would hand out a trophy (which I was not allowed near) to the winner! They also had some other merch for sale.

  • World of Grimm had an interesting tactic for getting new players on board and invested in the game. It's a short card game that can be played for free on Steam, so they manually created scratch-off codes that they stuck to game info cards. Anyone could come by and pick them up, then get a free skin and some extra (premium?) currency! Side note: one old marketing trick is to give the player an amount of preem currency that maybe buys one low-quality item, but still leaves enough currency leftover so that the player doesn't start from 0 if they want to buy something else.

  • Gunn Runner had some merch for sale with a special PAX-exclusive discount as well as Limited Edition Print Game Boxes! They also had some free buttons/pens to take, and if you beat certain levels under a certain time condition either a pin or a bundle full of goodies for free.

  • Yogibo had a sizeable booth promoting and selling big body pillows, and once signed up to their newsletter you could get a free pin! They also had a raffle for a giveaway involving one of their pillows.

  • Mytrix was doing a promotion where a follow/tag on any social media would get you a free pink bag. If you doubled down and signed up for the newsletter too they would give you a bunch of sushi stickers! There was another giveaway where if you followed, shared, and posted on IG then the company would enter you to possible win a controller of your choice!

  • Orna had a special promo code that could be used to get an exclusive sprite pack in-game. This was mobile-only and not on Steam. They also had stickers!

  • A Corgi's Cozy Hike has been around for quite a few conventions, and they were selling some cool merch once again! They have a bunch of stickers, pins, plushes, as well as some mystery boxes chock full of goodies. The cherry on top is that 20% of their proceeds gets donated to actual charitable causes that saves homeless dogs!

Free Stuff Strewn About The Table

  • Hyde's Haunt and Seek had a table chock full of goodies that were hard to miss including pins and temporary tattoos!

Honorable Mention

  • Sonic Roll was a tabletop game that had a lot of colorful eye-catching pieces and that's what made me stop to check it out. Probably in addition to recognizing the Sonic IP as well, but that's less important. All the colorful cards and pieces combined with the live players in the middle set me up and reeled me in. First with the colorful cool-looking stuff, then if I was actually interested in the game I could watch it unfold in real-time!

Something I've never seen before

  • Rainbow Unicorn Games astounded me when one of their developers kindly handed me a little baggy of tea. Tea!!

That's all folks!


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