UK Games Expo beats out Origins to become third biggest tabletop show
Early numbers from the 2017 UK Games Expo show more than 16,500 unique visitors, propelling it over Origins Game Fair to become the third biggest tabletop show in the world.
The show, which ran from the 2nd to the 4th of June, has been growing rapidly over the ten years it’s been running. The first ever UK Games Expo in 2007 was based in handful few rooms in Birmingham’s Hilton Metropole hotel, and since then has expanded to the point it takes up two full halls of the National Exhibition Centre, as well as expansive gaming space in the Hilton.
Speaking at the close of the event, organisers said they expect to grow the event even further in 2018, including plans to add an additional hall for the main exhibition area. Various tournament and game organisers seemed to agree with this sentiment, with the team running the D&D Adventurers’ League Epic saying they want to grow their player-count by 50% next year.
The latest Origins show recorded 15,480 unique visitors and around 200 exhibitors, giving the UKGE an edge of almost 1,000 attendees and 125 exhibitors. Both shows still fall well short of the two titans of the industry – the US’ Gen Con and Germany’s Essen Spiel – through these have been running since 1968 and 1983 respectively.
Considering its rapid growth and increased prominence on the convention circuit, it’s not surprising that come visitors have voiced concerns over the size of the crowds at the past two UK Games Expos. Saturday is by far the most popular day for both events and attendees, leading to queues for demo games and free tables in the main convention hall.
However, these kind of struggles are almost guaranteed when a show is so successful, and if the organisers’ plans come to fruition the pressure should be spread over a wider area in coming years. It’s also worth noting that a member of our group used both a cane and a wheelchair over the course of the show and didn’t have any major struggles with accessibility.