E3 has long been synonymous with AAA games and console releases, delivering a host of huge announcements from the gaming industry’s biggest names every year. What has become an unexpected mainstay of E3, however, is Devolver Digital’s Big Fancy Press Conference (now known as the Devolver Digital Showcase), which debuted in 2017.
Since their first mainstream press debut at E3, Devolver Digital have made a point to keep things fun and entertaining. The traditional live conference format was ditched in favour of a pre-recorded collection of mock announcements – most of which poked fun at present trends in the gaming industry. Devolver’s 2017 E3 show gave us “Earliest access”, where gamers could pre-order games which hadn’t even entered production, and “Lootboxcoin” in 2018 – a Cryptocurrency parody which could be bought on their website, however was functionally worthless. Devolver Digital’s hilariously unserious press conferences gained a lot of earned media attention, skyrocketing their social media presence as the indie game publisher.
However, Devolver Digital weren’t quite done disrupting the gaming conference status quo. In July of 2020, the Devolverland Expo was released as a free-to-play game on Steam; becoming the world’s first experiential, playable video games expo. The self-labelled ‘Marketing Simulator’ spawns the player into an abandoned E3 convention center, where they must retrieve all of the gameplay demos and trailers under the scrutiny of advanced security systems. Naturally, the stunt gained a ton of social media traction – producing gameplay videos, conversations surrounding the secret Easter eggs and formidable Twitch.tv viewership numbers.
Devolverland Expo saw huge viral outreach through Twitter, with at least 700k impressions and over 4k retweets. Devolver Digital's 'traditional' press conferences from 2019 and 2020 garnered 234k and 259k views on Youtube respectively, so it's safe to say that Devolverland Expo was a big success.
Through their involvement at E3, Devolver Digital have carved out a unique identity as a publisher who does not attempt to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with gaming goliaths like Activision and Ubisoft, but instead lightly poke fun up at them from ground level. Devolver’s stunts have firmly planted them as the indie publisher on everybody’s radar, by injecting some much needed fun into an increasingly corporate gaming industry.