TLDR Rating: 78%
Boothload: Getting better all the time, but still not enough
Usage of Convention Center: Meh
Interesting Panels: Attended 2 (Minor note: Mostly YouTubers and Twitch streamers. No triple A or double A upcoming release panels with the exception of the Friday The 13th panel. Come on PAX, last year you had XCOM 2)
My final thoughts on this are that PAX South, while it is still one of the newer babies of PAX, still does not get the love and attention that I think it most desperately desires. This convention is the very first major con of the year and it takes place in San Antonio ,TX and the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center which is HUGE. There should be plenty to do and see not have empty space all over the expo floor. Other PAXs would kill for this space!
Things to improve upon:
- Expo Floor time. Eight hours is brutally short to see everything on the expo floor. The general convention continues to go on through midnight, the Expo hall closes at 6 PM on the dot. Enforcers quickly earning their name, pushing everyone out within ten minutes. No one wants to work all day, which I can understand, but let the devs decide when quitting time is. People should be allowed to shut down their booths when they feel like it, and not during prime time.
- Empty Space on the Expo floor. Since PAX South is still a baby, that doesn’t excuse the amount of empty space left over on the expo floor. A quarter of the floor is taken up by tabletop, which why are people going to a con to rent a table top game that usually takes hours to complete, and another quarter of the floor is taken up by long pointless barricades that had absolutely no reason being where they were. I could only assume that they were used to line people up who got to the con super early, but I don’t think it needed that much.
- Less Pointless Panels. Mind you some of them look like good ideas, but end up being a crap panel when you go and spend your precious con time at perhaps something interesting, and someone just does a cheesy YouTube video from home and doesn’t actually attend the con . Legit that happened last year at an Amiibo Panel which instead of teaching people about what to spot for rarity, literally talked about what Amiibos were and why they thought they were cool. Give me a break YouTubers. Then you have panels like “Level up your PAX: Events not in the official Schedule” or “Streetpass Game Show” which is a panel just for people to go and street pass each other, which half of the attendees at the con are already doing. WHY IS THAT A PANEL?! “How to be a Minecraft YouTuber” really? You spent $1000 bucks to get a panel at PAX for one of the most performed things on YouTube? Also that is extremely specific and I can see this panel only attracting the kids 12 and under at the convention for a chance to meet their favorite Minecraft youtuber, only for it to turn out to be some fat guy in his 40s with only 200 subscribers. “My Favorite Terrible Game”, okay… I’m done.
- More Game Booths/Less Merch While its always great to see Skybound selling their latest expansion to Superfight, I do hate the amount of merch booths that take up the floor. Overall the amount of space for people actually presenting new games, indie or mainstream, is about 20-30% of quality stuff.
- The Booths that feature MMOs that have been out for years and no one plays Actually this one I’m curious as to why this one showed up this year. I was interested when Trion Worlds was doing something at PAX for this year and even set up an interview. I however canceled this interview because all that they were showing off was Trove and RIFT, and that other free2play pay2win game that they showed off last year. I at least thought while setting the interview that they had some sort of new updates for the games that have been out for a while, but no. Still the same old thing that not very many people are into. Why should I waste my time?
- Less Tabletop Overall My big problem is the lack of space for what PAX should be about. New indie games being shown off and fresh ideas being exchanged, but instead this PAX seems to have perverted itself to only being a tiny little slice of that. Where was DEFORMERS? Where was any of those other HIGHLY ANTICIPATED indie titles that are always at EAST and PRIME? Instead you guys clutter up the convention with loads of tabletop crap that is always spacious and lacking people. There are a few scattered about, but not for the amount of people that are actually doing it. Most of the people that it sees attend to those tables are either taking a break and eating their lunch while screwing around with a toy with their friends, or the Magic the Gathering crowed and the good few buttcracks exposed. Just shrink that down by half, because you really did not need that many tables.
Now, I enjoyed myself, so don’t go witch hunting just yet. I just think that for a convention that puts PAX in its name, they should be promoting to companies to come down to show off their new stuff. I mean not only will it keep the flow of the floor better since people won’t be crowded together in one spot at the Nintendo booths, but so you can share the magic you give at all your other shows. East and Prime get so much love when you could actually have, in theory, a better crowd at South, and sell out all three days. South has the best chance for announcements and reveals being its the very first major gaming con of the new year, and yet even though some indies are doing it such as the folks over at Phoenix Labs with their newly revealed game DAUNTLESS, which I highly recommend checking out when you get a chance because this thing looks wicked fun to play around with. Why even CAPCOM had a floor spot for Resident Evil 7, even though it was ridiculously pointless because the game had already been launched, oh and the fact that they only allowed 64 people in a day. No joke you had to be the first 64 people at the convention to get a ticket to demo Resident Evil 7 which Capcom went so far as to make their floor spot look like the House from RE7. If you’re trying to promote your newly launched series title, that has already struggled in the past because of bad content, why the hell would you make it so ridiculously limited. You couldn’t even watch people playing the game. While the experience for the lucky early bird who got to play was probably nerdgasmic, you pretty much only sold at most 192 copies, if you were able to sell the game to everyone that got to play, but when has Capcom ever made a good decision? Not in a good 10 years at least.
Things to take away from PAXSouth2017 however are some really amazing aspects that I think have the potential to change the gaming industry. These things include an up and coming, freshly new music concept dubbed Nerdcore by Rockit Gaming, an actually music label, dedicated to artists who have been inspired to write music from their favorite video games. Be on the look out for my piece with them as I got to sit down with Russel “Rockit” Mckamey and Vinny Newsom over at Rockit, to discuss their vision for this new booming concept. In the mean time you can check out some of their music and their artists at their youtube link.
I didn’t want to end this piece without giving the Switch some love either. While I think Nintendo has a great thing with their upcoming launch for something I know I will be purchasing day 1, I do think that it will go on replacing the 3DS, rather than a home console. The first thing that I was taken back on was the size of the system and screen. This thing is barely longer than a 3DS XL, and while the screen is much larger than what you would get on an XL, I was expecting the pad to be closer to the size of the Wii U’s pad. I was extremely impressed by the size of the system and dock as it even looks like it might be smaller than the original Wii. I only had one hiccup with the system that concerned me and it had nothing to do with the portable aspect of the system, but actually when the screen was docked. The game seemed to suffer from large controller lag spikes that happened more than once, causing me to leap/roll off a cliff to my death while playing the Zelda:BotW demo. While aesthetically pleasing to look at and running well, the controller lag was inexcusable and I would gladly take a frame rate drop from 60 to 30 any day than deal with faulty controller connection. Now I could have just gotten a bad controller, but I think this is less likely as the best quality I from the game was playing it on the tablet. Overall experience though rated EPIC as its Zelda.
I also got to talk with Jesse Cox and Crendor about Warcraft and how they feel about the direction it’s going. The answers I got will surprise you as they do not pertain to WoW in the least bit. My favorite answers were “IKEA” and how Chris Metzen is a handsome man. I don’t think that they gave me enough to write a full article on, so I’m going to try to at least mention that they’re just as friendly and awesome face to face. Jesse even did his epic Leah from Diablo impression for me, so he was a great sport about everything. Thanks Jesse!