More than 30 PC brands were exhibiting at the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) gaming event in Poland this weekend – Dominic Sacco takes a look at what they were showing off to consumers.
If you’ve been to a Multiplay i-series event in the UK, then IEM Katowice is familiar territory.
While the bigger eSports matches got underway in the main Spodek Arena, the expo took place in the International Conference Center – a large hall with several huge and creative booths showing off the latest PC gaming wares to customers.
Walking into the expo floor from the main entrance, you’re greeted with Acer’s black and red themed stand, where it was showing off its Predator line of gaming PCs and products. A man in the centre of the stand was throwing out T-shirts and freebies to the crowd (a prevalent theme I would soon discover across the show), plus there were competitions for fans to take part in.
Turning the corner and you come across HyperX’s stand, again with a red theme. Here they had a League of Legends one-on-one tournament running for fans, plus they were selling goods to consumers including RAM, accessories and more.
HyperX was also talking about its new Revolver headset at the show, as well as the Cloud Revolver 5 headset, with Dolby Surround Sound, which is coming soon and targeting the more mature hardcore gamer.
The star of the stand (and perhaps the entire expo) was a supercar taking centre stage on the HyperX booth. It was the shell of an actual Porsche, which had been stripped and turned into a racing game experience with three screens and working hydraulics. Impressive stuff.
I soon came across several similar-sized stands showing off all manner of keyboards, components and more, from the Raycore stand to the Enermax booth, as well as a Needforseat area allowing consumers to sit down, take a break and experience a PC gaming chair.
As I walked throughout the expo, it was difficult to find out exactly what vendors were promoting in terms of brand new products. Polish was obviously the main language here – so there weren’t many people that spoke decent English on the stands.
Several booths were co-branded, with Arctic and Cougar having a joint stand for example. Others had several brands within them, such as Aerocool, Tacens, XFX, Inno3D, TT Esports by Thermaltake and more.
Iiyama, Hama and MSI also seemingly had a stand together.
After a while, I noticed a chant being repeated over and over again. I couldn’t make out what was being said, so I moved towards the direction of the somewhat aggravating sound and soon came across Roccat’s stand, emblazoned with a giant picture of popular streamer Sp4zie pulling a silly face (he was signing autographs for fans in the booth).
The chant was simply ‘Roccat, Roccat, Roccat’ over and over again (albeit in a Polish accent) with the booth staff encouraging attendees to chant along with them to win free T-shirts.
After hearing this for around 10 minutes in the surrounding booths, I decided I needed to get far away from the Roccat stand as possible to prevent me from going mad.
After passing an Ozone stand with another competition and gaming experience, as well as the Razerbus, I came across two old rivals: HP and Dell. Or, to be specific, HP Omen and Alienware.
No matter how much I looked at HP’s gaming colour scheme (yep, another red and black one), it just wouldn’t sink in. The HP logo will always be blue and white to me, so seeing it in black and red was very strange, though it was interesting to see HP finally going after the gaming market in a big way.
Opposite HP’s stand was Alienware’s. This had an unusual shape to it, like a booth with a sort of carriage at the back for consumers to play games in and test out Alienware’s systems.
After a while, I realised the expo was mainly brands throwing free T-shirts at consumers. While it seems such a basic marketing strategy, it clearly works. Each stand had hundreds of attendees jumping and cheering for freebies, and again, if you’re familiar with Multiplay you’ll know this tactic seems to work there too.
In a way, all of the stands were pretty similar. They were a mix of freebies, gaming competitions and the latest PC hardware. Oh, and League of Legends was EVERYWHERE. It was probably being played on one in three booths.
I noticed that some retailers also had stands, including zadowolenie.pl, featuring GoodRam, AOC, Gigabyte and Trust, plus Morele.net with Be Quiet and Gigabyte, and Komputronik had a presence at the show too.
Other vendors at the show included SteelSeries, Crucial Ballistix, Zowie and ASUS, the latter of which had clearly been doing too much T-shirt throwing, as the member of staff commanding the audience to chant had lost his voice, bless him.
Other companies like Sprite and Twitch had a presence at the show.
Saving the best for last, I decided to check out the final mega booth taking centre stage in the expo floor: Intel’s mega booth.
This had a colourful, creative vibe with sploshes of multi-coloured paint contrasting with the grey street-style wall panels. There were tons of devices on display from many different vendors, from notebooks to tablets and desktop PCs, all running the latest games super smoothly.
The Intel stand even had its own DJ, who was being filmed live by an Intel RealSense camera. A video of him was being displayed on a big screen that added a multi-coloured 3D animated effect to the DJ as he moved.
Read more about Intel’s tech on show at IEM: How Intel put my face inside a PC game
Finally, Intel had a separate stand promoting its AnyKey eSports/tech diversity initiative, allowing people to pop by, grab a drink, chat and scribble a message promoting diversity on the wall.
Still, IEM had its fair share of stereotypical ‘booth babes’, and so there was something ironic about women in tight outfits from nearby stands walking around Intel’s diversity booth.
That’s not to knock what Intel is doing at all – its diversity scheme is to be applauded; We’ll have an article up on PCR later this week specifically around said initiative. Intel also had its all-female professional CSGO game tournament running in the expo area, with a great turnout of eSports fans watching the participants face off against one another.
At the far end of the hall, another larger eSports stage played host to the Heroes of the Storm tournament, which was eventually won by the UK’s very own Team Dignitas.
All in all, the IEM expo was impressive, and if Intel’s hints to PCR are anything to go by, then we could have an IEM event like this in the UK for vendors to attend in the future.