This past PAX East event was my first ever PAX event; going into it, I had high expectations for the expo. I mean, from all the news of PAX East 2010 and the fact that they had to move the expo to a larger location from the Hynes Convention Center to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center due to the sheer number of people who attended, Oh, FYI, this PAX Event is officially the largest PAX event with an attendance of 69,500, surpassing PAX Prime 2010’s attendance of 60,750 and PAX East 2010s of 52,290.
I will say above all that the event was decent; however, the fact that even at the larger location, the event was as bad as navigating a minefield. Many of the lanes were either partially or completely blocked to the point that you had to have the skill set of a linebacker to get through them. Though many of the PAX Enforcers made it a point to help move the masses back so people could get through, the gesture was welcomed even though it didn’t seem to have any effect.
Of course, the main reason everyone went to PAX East was for the GAMES! And games there were Battlefield 3 (Unplayable to the public), Star Wars – The Old Republic, Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Build More Robots, Fallen Frontier (Unplayable), L.A. Noire, Portal 2, Brink, Rage, Duke Nukem Forever, Dragons Nest (Looking forward to this hack and slash MMO), and many more. Though many of the high-profile games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic were swamped. And when I say swamped, I mean 6+ hour waits on all days of the event. I know that couldn’t be helped, but perhaps the amount of time that the game could be played or setting up more computers for the hands-on go would have helped. I won’t even mention the 3DS booth… seriously, I just won’t.
Swag, yes, there was plenty of swag. From buttons, pens, huge-ass bags (From Nexon, and these bags were half the size of my wife), lanyards, flashlights, and discounts that you could take advantage of online, but no demos. There were several events, such as a digital scavenger hunt and a button match-up from Nvidia. My wife and I were also extremely lucky to snag two of the Star Wars: The Old Republic T-shirts that were being tossed out in the crowd. I’ve never seen her jump so high; it was amazing!
The Button match-up was a nice idea, actually; You would pick up a button or buttons, and you would attempt to find another person at the event who had the same number as you. Of course, this led to many people grabbing as many buttons as they could in the event to find their counterparts. I lost count of how many people had basically their entire bodies covered in buttons. It did get a little annoying as you would constantly be getting stopped so the person could look at my buttons. But when I asked someone why they kept doing this I was explained that the prizes were worth it. Sadly, I never found anyone who had the same buttons as me.
I also didn’t like that many of the panels were impossible to get access to as they were full as soon as the panels started, even if you got to it an hour before. Also, many of the panels were overlapped, so you were screwed in that aspect as well. I missed all of the panels I intended to go to.
All in all, the event was a welcome distraction; however, for the next PAX East (April 7-9), I hope they organize it a little better. Numbers for PAX East 2012 may be a little lower as well since this is the weekend of Easter 2012.
Until next year!