As a gamer, do you know what were the 10 biggest gaming conventions in 2016?
By Monica Sanchez
Even though many of us usually go out and buy new games without trying them first, it sure would be helpful to talk to game developers and other experts beforehand. One way to have these fun and useful discussions is by attending a gaming convention. If you were a poor, unfortunate soul and missed all of the best conventions from 2016, where hundreds of game developers and experts gathered to share their secrets and insight, then save your money and join the fun this year! But before you make a decision about which one, or better yet, ones to attend, let’s take a look at which events were the most exciting and jam-packed with endless entertainment by going over the highlights of the 10 biggest gaming conventions of 2016.
- Go Play NorthWest
At Seattle University, wild RPG lovers gathered to have some fun with indie roleplaying, story-board, and card games. Official attendance numbers were not released, and it’s probably because high attendance means high profit, which wasn’t the point of this convention. Go Play Northwest was a gaming convention that people attended simply to have a good time with friends and new faces. This convention had no vendors, no panels, and no exhibitors. The only point of Go Play Northwest was to bring people together to play games. In the morning, some people would see a facilitator in a Go Play “Donut,” who would group enough people together to play a game. Then, that group would find a place on campus where they could sit down and go play.
People left Go Play Northwest raving about new games they discovered, some of which included Falling Sky, Dialect, and The House. Falling Sky is a historical war game set during the time of the Roman conquest and the revolt against Caesar. Dialect is a game that allows you to build your own language and community. The House is an interactive game that uses Skype to emulate a reality show. No matter what your interests were, Go Play Northwest had a little something for everyone. With fun, interactive games going on throughout the whole weekend, this convention was the perfect place to hang out, chill, and enjoy time with your friends and family.
Last year, Blizzcon was a two day gaming extravaganza where fans had the opportunity to celebrate all the characters and worlds within the Blizzcon universe. Official attendance results for the convention have not yet been released, but attendance for the past few years has stayed in the general range of about 25,000. In the heart of sunny Orange County, California, gamers flocked to Blizzcon in order to immerse themselves in activities such as movie, art, costume, and talent contests and find out about all the latest Blizzcon news.
At Blizzcon 2016, game developers announced that Diablo 3 is getting an original Diablo remake, and a necromancer class is being added to Diablo 3 too. Fans were also excited to discover that a new hero, by the name of Sombra, was being included in Overwatch. Blizzcon 2016 revealed even more different expansions and new characters in the Blizzcon universe that had fans eagerly looking forward to what developers had in store.
- PAX West
Where did people go last year if they just cared about video games and nothing else? You could have found your fellow gamers at PAX West last year. This convention is exclusively for all types for gaming including PC, console, and handheld games. Even though PAX West would not release the official attendance for the event, there was no way anyone was bored because there were never ending, delightful distractions to entertain even the most apathetic noob. PAX West had a console freeplay section, an exhibit hall, a handheld lounge, their famous Omegathon tournament, panels, a PC area, and a tabletop gaming area too. On top of all that, PAX held concerts for nerdcore music if people were all gamed out by the end of the day.
Being one of the largest gaming events in North America, PAX West had plenty of announcements and gameplay videos to share. While most announcements just hyped up previous news from E3, PAX West also did mention that brand new content is coming soon to your favorite games, such as Gears of War 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. Popular gameplay videos at the convention were Oxygen Not Included, a space colony builder game, and BattleTech, the well-known wargaming franchise. And it’s no surprise that new gaming technologies, such as virtual reality, was a major focus last year as well.
- PAX Australia
The popular gaming convention that we know and love in North America was hosted in Melbourne, Australia last year too. And let’s be honest. If we had known this already awesome convention was also in Australia, we would have swam through the sharks to get there. While official attendance figures were not released, it’s rumored that there were about 50K-75K people coming to the convention every day. With PAX Australia offering similar amazing features and events, why aren’t you more frustrated with yourself for missing out on this party in 2016?
Aside from celebrating gaming through panels, demo gameplays, concerts, and tournaments, PAX Australia even dedicated an entire space to independent game developers from Australia and New Zealand. This section was referred to as ‘PAX Rising.’ Some favorite indie games showcased at PAX Australia were Paradigm, Swordy, and The Adventure Pals, all of which are uniquely weird and addictive.
- E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo)
Do you get a kick out of sneaking into exclusive events? Well then, this is the gaming event you should have tried your luck at last year, even though you probably wouldn’t have made it through the doors anyway. Unfortunately, E3 Expo is an event that only people within the video game industry can get into. You even have to provide proof that you’re a part of the industry and bring your state ID or a driver’s license on top of that. If you had tried to worm your way in somehow, I’m sure you would have discovered wondrous secrets about the industry that would have straight up blown your mind.
During E3 2016, game developers made some pretty big announcements. First of all, Microsoft revealed their plans to transition regular Xbox 360 users over to Xbox One by showing off the two new models: Xbox One S and Project Scorpio. Insomniac Games announced a new Spider-man game in the works that would be exclusively for PS4. Capcom released a disturbing, little trailer to unveil the development of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The biggest, most shocking announcement from E3 2016 was Sony showing a live gameplay demo of God of War 4.
- Gen Con
There’s no way we can forget about Gen Con in the MidWest! GenCon is one of the longest-running gaming conventions out there. And it was four days last year? That’s one or two extra days of fun compared to those other cons! GenCon is known for unique role-playing, card, and story-board games. This convention prides themselves on being family-friendly, but that doesn’t mean they were lame. Last year, Gen Con came out with their own official beer. Plus, they had live music and entertainment, a costume contest and parade, and they also selected a charity that benefited from a majority of their events.
New and interesting games were selling like hotcakes at Gen Con 2016. Here are just some of the most popular ones. One of the most anticipated games was Bloodborne, the card game version of your favorite video game, created by designer Eric Lang. People were also excited for Pandemic: Reign of Cthulu, in which the goal of the game is to close the four gates of hell, and that’s different enough for us than the original version. Other games people enjoyed at this convention were Bottom of the 9th, a baseball themed game, and Seafall, a swashbuckling, married to the sea kind of narrative game.
Didn’t feel like blowing your money on a con just to stay in the states? No problem. That’s why China Joy was created: solely to save you from a boring experience in 2016. With more than 270,000 visitors, China Joy in Shanghai is one of the best places you can go for a video game convention. So what makes this convention worthy of going on your 2017 bucket list if you haven’t been there yet? China Joy isn’t simply a video game convention. It’s known for introducing the latest technology to the public. So if you’re bringing a noob friend along with you, then they’re sure to find something to entertain them as well.
China Joy 2016 was a hotspot for VR technology and mobile gaming. This convention had virtual reality zones all over the place, where people could demo any type of reality that interested them: survival-horror, sports, Playstation games, and more. China Joy 2016 also had mobile gaming stations with cellphones already set up for multiplayer games. They even offered prizes to some of the winning stations.
- Tokyo Game Show
Out of the top three most anticipated gaming conventions for 2016, Tokyo Game Show was one of them. Being the largest gaming convention in Japan, gamers and developers gather every year to experience all the awesome events in store for them. Unfortunately, Nintendo didn’t attend the Tokyo Game show last year, but that’s okay. The convention hosted 614 companies and organizations from all over the world, and of course, one of those companies was Sony. Lately, Sony has been dominating the global gaming market. They certainly made sure to tease everyone last year by throwing out a reminder that they have a virtual reality headset coming out soon. And at the beginning of the convention, Square Enix unveiled a Final Fantasy 15 special edition PS4. Its sleek design made everyone twitch and try to restrain their good hand from reaching in their wallet.
- Brasil Game Show
After looking at Tokyo Game Show, let’s plan our future nerd quests for more adventurous places! The 2016 Brasil Game Show, hosted in Sao Paulo, was the largest gaming convention in Latin America. Being a five day event, it had a lot of incredible experiences to offer the public. It was an all-inclusive pop-culture experience. There were huge celebrities, tournaments with gigantic prizes, and cosplayers showing off their very best outfits.
Brasil Game Show 2016 was five days of incredible video games and competitions. They put together their own eSport tournament called the ‘Brasil Game Cup,’ which was one of five tournaments at the convention. Those who didn’t get to visit watched online Dota2 teams and Clash Royale players face off in the championship round. People who were lucky enough to attend not only saw the tournament in person, but they also got to enjoy the arcade games area, meet famous youtubers, have fun on numerous game stations for consoles, PCs, mobile devices, and witness the surprising New Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay footage.
Gamescom 2016 was the most anticipated video game convention last year. Although the first day was reserved for trade industry professionals and the media, the rest of the convention was open to the public. More massive than the exclusive E3, us lowly civilians get to attend, and it’s in Germany? Sign me up for 2017!
Hundreds of exhibitors, games, consoles, and hardware at the convention got people amped and ready to play their hearts out. So many games were launched and promoted at the show. Where do we even begin? Well, some highlights from Gamescom 2016 included a follow up of a Resident Evil 7: Biohazard demo at E3. At Gamescom, 2016, the game was fully showed off. The convention also featured an endless amount of virtual reality games, some of which include Batman: Arkham VR and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. People were excited to test out the multiplayer game Sea of Thieves, another pirate-themed game. Other highlights from Gamescom 2016 were exhibitors showcasing games such as Dead Rising 4, Gears of War 4, and Halo Wars.
Now that we’ve come to the end of the list, I’m sure you’re probably hitting yourself right now for missing the biggest gaming events 2016 gave us. If you’re anything like me, you’re smashing all your piggy banks right now and pooling whatever pennies you have left so you can hopefully attend one of these incredible experiences in 2017.
Tickets sell out fast, so make sure to buy your 2017 tickets immediately, like today. What do you do if the tickets you want aren’t for sale yet? If you go to the official website of the convention you want to attend and register to be part of their email list, they’ll be sure to notify you in order to let you know when you can purchase them.
In the meantime, steer clear of button mashers and…
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*Originally written for GamersDecide.com