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PAX East 2010: What'd we think?

Shawn Schuster

The first-ever Penny Arcade Expo East event has come and gone, and most gaming fans are interested to know how successful it was in the eyes of the attendees. With the popularity boom of PAX Prime (in Seattle since 2004), porting the expo to the east coast only made sense. But did Boston have what it takes to play host to such an important event?

With a limit on space and actual news, the immediate buzz around PAX East was that of failure. However, things got much better as the main reason for the event was realized: after-parties! I mean, gamers know how to party, you can't deny that. But what were the best and worst parts of the event itself? Read on after the cut to find out.

Ordinarily, we would be posting a "Best of PAX East" awards article right about now, but to be honest, the elements just weren't there this weekend. Sure, there were plenty of flashy booths and informative panels, but the MMO love seemed to merely scratch the surface of potential.

Case in point: the MMO Gamer Behavior 101 panel on Saturday was bursting at the seams. This (and the three other overflowing MMO panels) proves that there is a real demand for MMO news and panels, but the representation just wasn't there. Need more evidence? There were only two MMO-related booths in the entire expo: Turbine and APB. Each of these booths were crowded to the point that people couldn't easily walk around them. But to be fair, most of the venue had this problem -- which brings us to our next point: overcrowding.

From the rumors overheard all weekend, the PAX organizers had already booked a larger convention center for next year's event. The turnout was obviously underestimated, and we're glad to see that next year should take care of this problem. Might we suggest more outlets for the ever-growing MMO interest? Call us biased, but we think the pool of MMO fans is growing.

The expo floor itself was laid out nicely, but walkways were more like shuffleways. Fun fact: the registration and queue line-up room was actually larger than the expo floor itself.

But aside from these problems, the entire weekend was actually quite fun, thanks to the fans. In true PAX style, the highlights were not found on the expo floor or in any booths. The most fun was to be had at live concerts, in tabletop gaming tournaments and at the after-parties. This is exactly what separates PAX from your E3s and GDCs.

More importantly, meeting Massively readers really was the highlight of the weekend for us. Through our Hide & Tweet and Swavenger Hunt events, we gave away signed Global Agenda and LotRO posters and over a dozen Massively t-shirts. We hung out with a few of you at after-parties and chatted during panels.

So was the event a success? Definitely. Could it have been better? Most definitely, but that's our whole point. While PAX East was certainly fun, it had the potential and the interest to be so much better. We hope the PAX organizers take note of this and plan accordingly for next year. And please, give us more for the hungry MMO fans!

Make sure to keep an eye on the site for the next few days as our PAX East coverage wraps up with APB hands-on impressions, an interview with Paragon Studio's Melissa Bianco and more. Also, be sure not to miss the podcast on Wednesday, recorded during the event.

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