Tens of thousands of gamers travel to ultimate experience in Royal Jaarbeurs

Adventure games, role playing, real-time strategy, board games, racing... And all at a single location. It was everything many a gamer had been waiting for. GameForce has been the event for the gaming industry in Belgium for years and now the biggest game fair in the Benelux was coming to the Netherlands. In October 2022, Royal Jaarbeurs opened its doors to celebrate gaming culture. And how! The first edition of GameForce in the Netherlands was a huge success. We put five questions to GameForce's Product Manager Robi Janssen.

1. What is GameForce? 

'GameForce is a gaming fair that focuses on gaming culture. This is incredibly broad because everyone is a gamer. Everything to do with gaming is part of our culture. Think hardware, merchandise, cosplay, VR, AR and the latest technologies to stimulate people. GameForce is for everyone who occasionally plays games, ranging from on the computer and phone to a (fantasy) board game like Dungeons & Dragons. Everyone can feel at home at GameForce, whichever niche you like best. In addition, as a fair, we think it is important that there is interaction on every stand. People need to be encouraged to take part in something, to emphasise that added value of visiting the event. We also often think along with the exhibitors and look for the best match between them and the audience. In this way, we can also help exhibitors stay out of each other's way and help visitors constantly experience new things.'

2. GameForce's first time in the Netherlands. How did the venue selection go and why did you choose Jaarbeurs?

'This was a very conscious choice. First, the location: it had to be central and easy to reach. Jaarbeurs is literally right next to the central rail station and Utrecht is also in the heart of the Netherlands. Knowing that there are also several gaming-minded things to experience in Utrecht (such as the headquarters of top sports organisation Team Liquid, the great courses at Utrecht School of the Arts and the drive of the city council), it was ultimately an easy choice. As a fair, therefore, we would also like to contribute to what the city of Utrecht is trying to achieve.' 

3. Did you have a target in terms of visitors?

'Although we obviously had a certain goal in mind, it was never going to be easy. This was our first time organising this event in the Netherlands, Covid was still relevant and the economic situation (energy prices, etc) didn't help either. Still, we had a more than successful edition. Our target was at least 10,000 visitors and we managed to break the 12,000 barrier. We were able to show what GameForce stands for and what the fair offers, so looking back it turned out to be a fantastic edition for us.' 

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4. What was your experience of working with Jaarbeurs as the venue?

'Very positive. Communication was extremely smooth and professional. A quick (last-minute) visit to look at designs and measure things was no problem at all and arranged immediately. That an event venue itself also thinks along with its clients, makes suggestions and shows genuine interest in what you’re trying to create, was great to experience. We even met them more often in the hall itself than in the office, and that says it all!' 

5. So... Will you come back?

'Absolutely! The actual date is still a secret, but GameForce is coming to the Netherlands again in October. Back to Royal Jaarbeurs and this time even bigger. We are going from one to (at least) two halls, in any case. Not only us, but also our exhibitors were very enthusiastic about the location. We received lots of positive comments about our approach and Jaarbeurs also made a good impression. We heard that the Jaarbeurs event team went to talk to exhibitors themselves, asking their opinions and how things might be improved. I think both we and Jaarbeurs were able to show that this gaming fair stands for hospitality and that we are all working together to create a great story. That's something that can only be beneficial for everyone's future; ours, Jaarbeurs and the visitors and exhibitors.'

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