Mirror Match: Is PAX Too Big? Is That Bad?

I'm arguing with myself over the insane size of the PAX cons. Do you think large PAX conventions make it better or worse for the attendees?

Today’s Mirror Match is on the size of the Penny Arcade Expo. The Penny Arcade Expo was started in 2004 by authors of the Penny Arcade comic, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. The show was meant to be an accessible convention for gamers, by gamers.

The first PAX was held in Seattle, WA with around 3,300. Fast forward to 2010 where PAX spread to the East coast with it’s second annual convention happening in Boston, MA. The 2010 PAX East saw 52,290 attendees. Every year, the conventions have been steadily growing and are now happening in Boston, Seattle, Dallas, and Australia. The latest numbers on PAX is over 70,000, but with PAX East happening this weekend, I think there’s going to be an all time high.

With all of this growth, can PAX handle it? Are the big crowds hurting or helping the convention?

Mirror Match is the weekly battle of opinion on controversial topics in video games.

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Published Mar. 12th 2015
  • MrFester
    I think a major issue at all the PAX events I see, is that its poorly run.

    Lines are disorganized and out of control. ( seriously, they use tape on the ground , how professional ) The bigger locations they are trying to shove to many booths into a small small which compresses the lines down, which sloows the traffic flow.

    Another issue is that PAX favors certain companies and lets them do whatever the hell they want. Also, Cosplaying is great and all but again PAX does not police them on the show floor which causes a freaking mess with traffic flow again.
  • Scopique
    I don't think it's so much about the crowds as it is the addition of a "PAX within reach of everyone".

    Seattle was a kind of corner case (literally) that was fine for people with cash to travel, or those local to the area. I live just 45 minutes outside of Boston, and was thrilled that the games industry was finally recognizing that the NE had gamers too when they announced PAX East.

    Now with PAX South -- which happens to be closer to more game studios than Boston is, or has -- my primary concern is that PAX is going to start canabalizing itself.

    I don't know if companies (especially smaller ones) would spend the money to attend ALL of the PAX events (and GDC, and E3, and Gamescom, etc). With so many events on the docket, I expect that companies will need to choose where to go. That would mean that some of these events would be "required" (the primarily industry-focused events), and the rest will be ranked according to the financial viability and the most bang for the buck.

    Prime will always be there, I would expect. That would leave East and South to duke it out (sorry, Australia), and in that case I can't see how East could compete with a shorter distance between San Antonio and the hubs of game development in the South and the West.

    The absolute worst case scenario, then, would be the addition of PAX Midwest, which I know is something that the middle of the US would love to have, but which I think would be the definitive tipping point for the industry to have to pick and choose which events to attend, and which to skip.

    One solution would be for companies to alternate attendance, but that would leave certain venues as ghost-towns that couldn't fill the convention centers and, consequently, couldn't draw the attendance. Knowing that "your PAX" was the off-year this year would certainly cut down on the crowds, though.
  • Rippus
    Just a quick edit, the pax is not held in Dallas, it was held in San Antonio and it was the first "Pax South"

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