E3 is no longer the only convention that matters in the gaming industry. Now in its third year, PAX East, which took place last weekend at the Boston Convention Center, was a major success for consumers, journalists and industry professionals.
Our client, 2K Games, made the strategic decision to treat the convention like a huge industry event by creating massive set pieces in booths for two upcoming games, Borderlands 2 and Spec Ops: The Line. With XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Civilization V: Gods and Kings also on the show floor, 2K had arguably the largest footprint in the convention center.
This strategy worked. The booth was a can’t miss sight and Borderlands 2 had a three to four hour wait during much of the 3-day show. With 2K and Access bringing a PR staff as large as its E3 staff, it was clear that consumers weren’t the only focus at the show. With more than 150 appointments booked, the PR team was assigned the interesting task of catering to media of all levels (PAX does not have as strict of a media credential process as E3). Many media had seen 2K’s titles at previous press events but the show afforded the team an opportunity to get 2K’s games in front of key media outlets, including Mashable, MSNBC, Polygon, Ars Technica, Game Informer and Giant Bomb. Multiple editors flew in from the west coast for the show, another sign that PAX East continues to gain legitimacy within the industry.
Although we’ve heard positive feedback from most people who attended the show, covering this event can be challenging for media. Unlike E3, where the general public is not able to attend, the vast majority of attendees at PAX are video game consumers. Throughout the weekend, media told us they would be late to their appointment because they were forced to wait in the same lines to enter the convention center as consumers. Some top-tier media also had to come up with unique angles for show coverage because the gameplay demos had been shown previously. We alleviated this potential issue by offering interviews with David Eddings, the voice of Claptrap, one of the main characters in Borderlands 2, and Reggie Bennett, a survival specialist, who spoke about Spec Ops: The Line.
Another aspect that differentiates PAX East from E3 is the panels, which focus on individual video game titles and popular video game industry personalities. Taking place in huge meeting rooms that can hold more than 1,000 people, game developers have the opportunity to speak directly to the most passionate fans while also making some news. XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Borderlands 2 both hosted successful panels, with Borderlands 2 even making some big news.
To summarize, it’s clear that PAX East, even though it took place on a holiday weekend, is a major factor in the industry. It gave consumers and media an opportunity to experience the latest and hottest games all under one roof. Going forward, this three day event is a must-attend for publishers and industry folks in advance of E3 in May.
Here are a few more images from the show.
–Ian Guss, Access Communications @IanHGuss