Today I, as well as a throng of coworkers, descended upon the first incarnation of PAX East. Though there wasn’t an official 38 Studios presence (no booth or big announcements this year–sorry!), our execs were nice enough to give the team the day off to attend opening day of the festivities.
First off, it’s great to have a major fan-centric gaming event in Boston. The fact that the show sold out for all three days is a testament to how many rabid gamers we have on this side of the country. No question that a show like this was long overdue.
The organizers certainly seemed to have learned a lot from the original PAX in terms of keeping things running smoothly. Though the entrance was a massive choke point (more about this later), once inside things ran like clockwork. It was fast and easy to pick up my badge, and grabbing goodie bags and program guides was a snap. Most of the lower level is a maze-like queue that winds its way toward the second floor, but despite a crowd the line was flowing briskly.
There are some weak points I hope improve next time around:
- Need a better facility – The Hynes Convention Center is not a great venue. The entryway was a massive bottleneck compared to more modern facilities. The cement floors and drab walls gave off a prison vibe. It just wasn’t a pleasant place (although easy access to a decent food court is a plus).
- Industry support felt tentative – The expo floor wasn’t exactly brimming with exciting booths. Local studio Turbine had a nice area, and a few others (like Realtime Worlds, who showed off APB) did as well. But overall it felt like many big-name publishers had little more than a token presence.
Perhaps the show’s proximity to E3 precluded many companies from committing resources, or maybe they just wanted to see how the first year of the show went. Either way, I hope there is more of a big-name presence next year–and I hope it takes place in a location that better shows all that Boston has to offer.
Overall the arrival of PAX East is a huge boon to gamers and developers alike. I’m confident the show will be a huge success and will only get better in the years to come.