PAX East 2015

PAX
Mid way through GDC we split up and two of us went to Boston to showcase Swordy at PAX East.

PAX is a very different beast. While both are densely populated with talented developers, PAX is a consumer event where people come to check out new games, compete in tournaments and dip into the latest and greatest of the gaming culture.

PAX in Boston is big. Way bigger than the one in Melbourne.

The biggest surprise was just how much of the convention hall was dedicated purely to indie developers. The pink area highlighted on the map was all inhabited by indies.

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So many awesome games were on display. We got to meet a lot of talented developers, try some of the games we’ve been following for a while and meet the faces behind those games. The comradery among the developers was astonishing.

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We didn’t have a booth at the indie zone this time. We were showing Swordy at the Xbox pavilion alongside Pneuma and Ori: the blind forest with ID@Xbox.
This time we only had one station. It was less stressful to run but we had less traffic.
Our placement wasn’t ideal as we were in a hard to discover corner. We made use of a line behind us – people were lining up to play Evolve and we hijacked them while they waited. It gave us a steady flow of players so it turned out well. It was good to have exposed people lining up for a AAA game to an indie game like Swordy.

Check out more photos over at our facebook page.

What went right:

We took advantage of the line behind our station where people were lining up to play Evolve. It meant we could have a constant flow of players, as well as expose people lining up for a AAA game to a smaller indie game.
We had great reception much like PAX Aus. We gained a few dedicated fans that kept bringing their friends back and coming back to play again.
Manning one station for just four players at a time was significantly less stressful than two that we had at PAX Aus.
Our hotel was connected to the convention center by a bridge, meaning we could get up 30mins before the show and just walk over to it without going outside into the snow.

What went wrong:

Something always goes wrong and this time the build we tested the night before, for no apparent reason had lighting problems. It took us half an hour to figure out that we needed to tick a render priority to “important” on our main light, resulting in us missing out the press hour.
Booth placement was not ideal making us very hard to discover and stumble upon by accident. Being at the Xbox area meant we were not alongside other indies (although we could have been if we bought booth space).
We were sick throughout the event.
On the night of the second day someone nicked our box of badges. There were a couple of hundred remaining. That’s a couple of hundred less people having an awesome badge.

Takeaways:

The biggest impact for us at PAX East was the importance of “indie” in terms of identity and booth placement. Having a booth space at the indie zone would have given us greater exposure and a wider player base. We were literally limited to people who were willing to wait 30mins to play Evolve.
Nevertheless we commend Microsoft for giving us the opportunity and exposure that they have and it’s been both amazing and useful for us as a studio and for Swordy in terms of marketing. We’ve gained even more followers and fans throughout the PAX weekend and meeting other developers has been priceless.