IAG speaks with Kate Chambers, Managing Director of ICE London organizer Clarion Gaming, about what to expect from the world’s biggest gaming industry trade show in 2019.
Ben Blaschke: What can we expect from ICE in 2019?
Kate Chambers: I always start questions about what visitors can expect from ICE in the same way, and that’s to acknowledge the quality and creativity of our exhibitor community, which is unsurpassed in gaming. The starting point for any exhibition is its exhibitors: great exhibitors attract serious buyers and the more buyers you can attract, the more exhibitors are interested in your event and so the process goes on. We have worked extremely hard to attract the very best in gaming and this year we have 612 brands drawn from 66 nations, occupying a record 44,500 square meters of net space. No other exhibitions in our space can come close to delivering this quality covering all of the gaming verticals and in such numbers. So my single topic answer is innovation – and lots of it!
BB: ICE has established itself as the world’s biggest gaming industry trade show. What sets ICE apart from other large shows of its kind?
KC: ICE London has a nice balance of really well-known brands, as well as the bright new businesses who might be making their first ever appearance at a trade exhibition. It also represents the entire spectrum of gaming, encompassing every vertical. I think the stand out USP is its internationalism. In 2018, visitors travelled to London from 153 nations – that’s an amazing statistic and one that also demonstrates the size of the gaming universe. In those respects, ICE London connects with a huge audience and offers something for everyone who earns their living in gaming.
BB: In recent years, we’ve seen the online segment enjoy enormous growth. What sort of split does ICE have in 2019 regarding online v land-based content?
KC: Up until very recently, it was appropriate to make the distinction between online and land-based, however the introduction of an omni-channel approach to content has shifted the discussion. The narrative is now about the creation and delivery of compelling content that meets the gaming entertainment needs of consumers in the digital age. Hence, we have exhibitors developing content for bricks-and-mortar gaming who also deploy those games online. It’s all about the content.
BB: Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to seeing at ICE in 2019?
KC: We have put a great deal of energy and focus on the ICE VOX conference program. We have ripped up the rule book and approached the learning experience in a totally different way, with formats designed to challenge and engage with an audience that wants something different and an alternative to conventional learning. We have also addressed something close to my heart and that’s the issue of single-use plastics and their impact on the environment. In the first initiative of its type, we have partnered with Ecobooth to collect discarded stand graphics, which are the most common stand waste materials. They will be recycled into a sheet material and used to make an array of products and outdoor furniture for the local community and used in communal spaces surrounding ExCeL London. It’s a good initiative and one which will show gaming doing its bit for the planet.
BB: Do you have any advice for those who may be reading this and are planning on attending ICE for the first time?
KC: I think there are three key pieces of advice that I would offer. Firstly, it’s extremely difficult to do ICE London in a single day. Unless you are coming for a single meeting at a pre-arranged time, you will only be scratching the surface of what ICE London has to offer. If at all possible, add another day to your schedule. Secondly, do some preparatory research. Use the ICE London website and newly launched mobile app to see who is exhibiting and where they are located. Thirdly, bring comfortable shoes and under no circumstances wear new shoes! One PR person attending his first ICE damaged his feet so badly wearing new shoes that, on the second day, he had to wear slippers – and that was when ICE was half the size it is now. It’s a great show, but it does leave you physically and mentally exhausted!