We checked out MEGAMIGS, Canada’s biggest event in the games industry

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We checked out MEGAMIGS, Canada’s biggest event in the games industry
MEGAMIGS is Canada’s biggest event in the games industry. Founded by la Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec, the Montreal International Gaming Summit (MIGS) started in 2004 with a focus on the industry and business development side. Then in 2017 came the public-focused Montreal Expo Gaming Arcade (MEGA). In 2019 the two events joined forces to become the almighty MEGAMIGS. 

The 2022 edition of MEGAMIGS saw the glorious, in-person return of the festival, with a focus on discovery and playability. We still see the two sides of the conference with events split across the 10th and 11th floors of Hotel Bonaventure. The venue was really excellent and brought the outdoors inside, replete with a rooftop pool and duck pond water feature. The public-facing trade show, where you could demo games, schmooze with developers, speak with university and college recruiters or partake in tabletop gaming or laser tag, was on the main floor. The upper floor provided space for folks to take business meetings and included an extensive catering spread.

The conference does rest heavily on business development and conferences, with four days of panels, talks and presentations from industry experts. But that doesn’t mean there’s not room for glamour! MEGAMIGS also hosts an opening cocktail and closing party for VIP and Pro pass holders, and the five-day conference is capped off with the MEGAMIGS Awards.

Showcasing and presenting a game at a conference like MEGAMIGS is an important part of the games marketing ecosystem. Depending on the stage of development of the project, a showcase might be a means to finding funding or publishing partners, or if later in production a direct path to increase sales and visibility.

With Montreal being the games hub that it is, the community is fortunate to have the support of la Guilde and its sponsors for shining this spotlight on our city’s scene. To put this into a global context, gamedveloper.com calculates an average of 34 games were released on Steam every day in 2022. That’s over 6,000 games in the first half of 2022. 

Add to that the idea that Philomena Schwab — the co-founder of Swiss Games Hub and lead designer of Niche — suggested (at a DiscoMTL panel this summer) that studios allocate between 25% and 50% of their project budget to marketing and release. That’s a major chunk of a production budget, but also speaks to the competitiveness of the games market and the importance of showcasing.

One of the best parts of MEGAMIGS was the Indie Zone. Subject to the sounds of the Ubisoft barista banging out espressos, the Indie Zone squeezed in about 10 indie studios and solo devs onto five tall café tables. The Indie Zone gave attendees the opportunity to meet up-and-coming devs. This space offered by the fest and supported by Ubisoft is really the most inspiring section on the public floor. 

Two standouts at the Indie Showcase were The Big Con, where you play a teenage hustler in the ’90s with a cartoony feel, from Toronto studio Mighty Yell, and Secret Meadow, an extremely serene and peaceful fairy gardening game from Montreal indie dev the Glowing Pond.

Overall it was an excellent event for anyone even remotely interested in video games. I met a bunch more folks from indie studios to AAAs (stay tuned to this column!), and it’s a great way to learn about the community and to find out about the games and projects being developed in Montreal.

Game Jam is a monthly column about Montreal’s video game community. Are you a Montreal studio releasing a game soon? Please contact me here.

This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue of Cult MTL.

For more Montreal arts coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.
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