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Bill Murphy: Post-PAX East Thoughts

Column By William Murphy on April 17, 2012

Now that most of our coverage is out there, and as we wrap up the remainder from PAX East 2012, I thought it might be a good time to collect my thoughts on the whole show, tell you guys what I specifically saw that impressed me (both MMO and otherwise), and just to chat about my experiences in general in Boston this year.  If you came, saw, and met up with us, please do chime in!

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The Future of Online Games Panel

I’ve never talked in front of a group of people larger than about 20 or so. This year I was tasked with introducing some of this industry’s most heavy of hitters and moderating a panel with all of them in front of 3,000… to say that I was gob-smacked would be an understatement.  But when the dust settled, I think the entire staff at MMORPG.com, the fine folks of PAX East, and our panelists did a great job in what is no doubt the biggest version of this young panel to date.  In fact it went over so well, I hope we do it again at PAX Prime in Seattle come August.  Keeps your eyes open and Garrett and I are planning to make it happen! 

It was great hearing what all of those guys believe the future of the industry is, and I’m hopeful that the next few years will see their games prove their points.


The Other Guys Shined

It seems like every show for the past several years has been about TERA, SWTOR, RIFT and GW2. PAX East 2012 took the focus off of those games, in part because two of them were not in attendance.  But make no bones about it: Neverwinter, DDO, SMITE, Wargaming.net, and The Secret World were there in a big way this year.  They didn’t disappoint either.  DDO’s forthcoming expansion gives fans of Turbine something to really get jazzed about, while newcomers like Neverwinter, World of Warplanes, and the first ever public hands-on of TSW drew crowds in droves.  And let’s not forget Firefall, whose booth was consistently flooded with fans the entire time, rivaling the much more high-profile Borderlands 2 in terms of “shooter presence”.

The Little Guys Own PAX

Forget the big budget games for a second though. PAX is a great show because it gives high visibility to the indie game scene in a way that no other high-profile convention seems to.  There’s an MMORTS on the floor this year called Novus Aeterno which we’ll have coverage via RTSGuru on shortly, that would never see the kind of exposure they received were it not for PAX.  And that’s just one example.  PAX is a celebration of gaming, and not just budgets, and it’s easily my favorite show to walk around for this reason.  You can find titles that will absolutely knock your socks off, and most of them don’t have EA as a publisher either.

Convention Center Food Sucks/Rules

Now for some not so gaming-related thoughts:  One: the food at the show wasn’t good.  It wasn’t bad, in fact it was far better than the likes of E3.  But it still hurt my stomach.  But what was good? The smell of Sam Adams wafting throughout the concourse.  Beer at PAX, praise the Lord!  The down side? I was working, not attending.  One year, I’m sending proxies in my place and just drinking myself silly on my own dime before this life is over.  Then I’ll get on the Rock Band stage and sing “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” better than anyone you’ve ever imagined.  It will happen.  Wait and watch.

Let’s Not Do Easter Again

I know not everyone celebrates Easter. My own family isn’t too big on the holiday, but we get together all the same.  I may be wrong, but I don’t think this year’s PAX East sold out Sunday’s attendance, which they normally do weeks before the show proper.  Well, now PAX East will be at Boston’s convention center for the next fifteen years, so I’m hoping part of that deal means that Reed Expo doesn’t get stuck with Easter Sunday again.  Nothing’s worse than taking a flight home after essentially 48 straight hours of foot-pounding work to have to go sit at a steakhouse with your grandparents and explain why you smell of Doritos, Mountain Dew, and virginity even after you’ve taken several showers and hosed down with hydrochloric acid. 

PAX East is probably my favorite show of the year.  It starts things off with a huge bang for the fans, and then it really kicks into high gear with E3 and PAX Prime.  GDC and GDCO are great, but they’re about the devs and not the fans.  It’s these three shows in rapid succession that drive our lust for knowledge on the upcoming games, and with a lineup the likes of what we have in 2012, I have a feeling it’s going to be a massive tidal wave of info.  Who knows, maybe a few companies out there have a surprise or two up their sleeves for us.  Get ready, people.  Show season has just begun.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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