The careful steps of a convention returning to form, a PAX East retrospect

    It is done, PAX East 2022 made it to 100% completion, everyone is packed up and headed home.  A little over two years ago we were at the...


It is done, PAX East 2022 made it to 100% completion, everyone is packed up and headed home. 

A little over two years ago we were at the last PAX east during a cold late February in Boston with a looming monster approaching us all and no idea what would happen next. Some big companies had cancelled their appearance last minute as they are dealing with the explosive growth of this new virus we had not heard of before. During the weekend we heard GDC would be completely cancelled. Quiet whispers became full on conversations as we started to realize that this thing, we thought would blow over, only seemed to be getting bigger and we that we were facing an uncertain future not only concerning this convention we loved so much, but with life in general. 

I do not have to detail the things we all lived through since that icy weekend. PAX was closing and not returning in physical form, for some time and reinvented itself into a digital experience that even though it brought some groundbreaking innovation could not hold up a candle to the in person gathering with friends, old and new, where we could share our passion for videogames, and boardgames together over an unforgettable weekend.

After a careful return to convention life with PAX West and PAX unplugged it was not time for Boston to once again host PAX East. But with so many businesses and people having changed their ways of working and living, how would this look. Tickets went on sale but information on guests and exhibitors was scarce for a long time making people nervous. Could PAX East ever be possible again? Some were pessimistic where others remained hopeful.

With the weekend behind us I believe that the organizers, volunteers and the hundreds of vendors, developers and more have succeeded in their endeavor and I can say confidently that PAX East is back. That said, things were not as they have been before.
For starters the show saw a clear reduction in participants and a clear gap was left from big name studios still opting out of the event. No PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo or even Square Enix, Bethesda, Behemoth and more of the staple mega booths were noticeably absent.  As a result, the show floor was less packed together and had bigger corridors to navigate through. That said, by no means was it a small convention. 

The lack of big cooperations sucking the oxygen from the room created the opportunity for the smaller  developers and studios to step into the limelight and showcase what they have to bring to the table with Gearbox leading the way with some impressive and fun looking new titles. Tinybuild came with their always fun and impressive carnival themed booth, Devolver Digital's was present again its unique chaotic style and the somewhat surprising return of Apogee entertainment to the game world hitting with some serious game firepower. There were plenty more, Dotemu, Wired Productions, Focus Interactive, PQube,505 Games etc. Enough to keep you entertained for hours already. Add to that all the indie games shown as well as the vendors there was a lot to discover and each day walking around was met with entertainment value, making the days fly by.  And this is omitting the tabletop portion of the floor which was as big and entertaining as it ever was. You will see plenty more write ups in the coming days talking about the things I saw in more detail but let me tell you there was plenty to enjoy and discover.

So in all,  as they would say , PAX East was the same, but different and that in my opinion was not a bad thing.  The question then remains how things move forward  from here? Based on my experience this year I would love to see PAX grow even more as the place to meetup with the smaller studios, publishers and indie devs. A place where gamers and game makers meetup, network, grow and build a community together. There might be less swag, but there would be plenty more heart. If however the big name tickets want to return, what would that mean for those that showed their faith and trust in PAX East this year? Would they be relegated to a dark corner or still be allowed a bright spot in the middle of major foot traffic?
I would hope to see their efforts not forgotten and it effect how PAX presents itself from here on out. I do not have the numbers pulled at this years event, but Saturday was sold out and product flew of the shelves, faces were happy everywhere I looked, excitement was high and lines were full.  From my perspective alone I would declare this a success and if it financially plays out the same for the organization I believe not only would PAX East return next year but more exhibitors and visitors will be ready to join in.

Whatever will happen, the return of PAX East 2022 was one convention I will always fondly remember from here on out.

PAX East has landed and I hope you come on board next year. 

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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