Oceania’s biggest gaming convention, PAX Australia (“PAX AUS”), returned for another year last weekend. As per tradition, Tom and I made our annual pilgrimage to Melbourne to attend the convention, meet up with good friends and community members, as well as, see the best that gaming has to offer.
What we saw and experienced, astounded us.
PAX AUS has always been a fantastic event and this year was no different, with some of the biggest gaming brands in attendance, new games to demo, intriguing panels to sit in on, exclusive pins to hunt for, esports competitions to watch and of course, wildly creative cosplay to be in awe of.
The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was packed over the weekend with thousands of gamers from all walks of life and thanks to the team at ReedPop, we were able to begin our PAX AUS adventure an hour early, as part of the media and content creator session.
There was plenty to see and do on the show floor from PlayStation Australia’s colourful booth, Xbox ANZ’s Twitter hunt challenge and Elgato’s streaming pods for content creators, to the mini ESL arena, Intel Dome, indie game area and of course, and entire hall dedicated to tabletop RPGs and board games.
Both Tom and I were booked solid throughout the weekend with meetings and catch ups with brands, friends and community members so we didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy PAX AUS at our leisure, however, every moment on the show floor was filled with excitement and fun.
We were able to get an early hands-on with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare at the PlayStation booth thanks to Activision.The 6v6 demo was a lot of fun, and was enough to have us interested in getting back into the Call of Duty series again. Following that, we enjoyed a tour around the PlayStation booth which included playable demos of upcoming titles like MediEval, Concrete Genie and of course, the highly anticipated Marvel’s Avengers. More than the games itself, I was personally taken with the aesthetics of the booth which almost felt like the stuff of ‘Dreams’ (pun intended). Not only did the deep blue colour of the booth mixed in with the coloured lights of the PlayStation 4 systems and VR headsets look stunning, but having two cabinets filled with various DualShock 4 controllers and two special edition PS4s (the 500 million edition and the extremely rare 20th Anniversary console), caught my eye.
Moving on to the Thermaltake booth, we were treated to the company’s brand new all in one PCs, dubbed LCGS, which stands for Liquid Cooling Gaming Systems. These kits were complete gaming PCs that utilise liquid cooling in a way that comes easily packaged for gamers wanting to purchase a ready-made PC.
Once we ‘oohed and ahhed’ at the LCGS, I naturally progressed down to the Xbox booth while Tom explored the show floor. Anything Xbox related always has me beaming with joy and experiencing the Xbox booth at PAX AUS brought on the same feeling. It was so lovely seeing the Xbox ANZ staff and crew, who have now come to feel like family to me. The team certainly did a fantastic job this year by having various stands dedicated to different popular games including EA’s Plants vs Zombies:Battle for Neighborville, Minecraft Dungeons, Gears 5, NBA 2K20, Sea of Thieves, and the juggernaut of highly anticipated games, Cyberpunk 2077.
Not only were the playable games a lot of fun for attendees, but there was also the great Twitter hunt competition that Xbox ran, which was open to both PAX AUS attendees and those at home. The competition involved solving mystery hashtags and picking up QR codes that were hidden all over the Xbox booth, as well as solving emojis that depicted fan favourite Xbox titles. Each solution and completed activity resulted in points that would be put up on a leaderboard (which was displayed amazingly at the Xbox booth). The person with the most points wins the grand prize of being sent to Xbox’s annual fan fest event: X019 in London!
While I began the quest to solve every puzzle and hunt for QR codes, Tom, fascinated by the competition and the prize, decided to join me. We spent most of our time on the PAX AUS show floor at the Xbox booth and kept coming back every opportunity we had to check the leaderboard. While this was just one part of the fun with Xbox, it was also amazing to see Xbox participate in a charity drive as well, which involved an opportunity to win goodies from a Lynx claw machine and pick up exclusive Xbox swag.
For the rest of the weekend, our time on the show floor was done in short bursts with a visit to the Logitech ANZ booth to check out the Blue Microphones streaming pod and the new Logitech G gear on display; an attempt to preview Watch Dogs Legion at the Ubisoft booth; a look around the Koch Media booth, which was astounding as it included activations for Destroy All Humans, Darksiders Genesis, and my personal favourite, Mortal Kombat 11; a quick run around the Nintendo’s booth, which was over crowded with people wanting hands on time with Overwatch on the Switch and Luigi’s Mansion; a tour around the Alienware booth with an introduction to the new line of PCs coming from the brand; and a brief preview of the PAX Rising area which had indie developers showing off their new and upcoming games.
The RIG Gaming booth was also one of our weekend highlights as we ran a PAX AUS hide and seek competition to give away a RIG 700 headset to a fan at the event. This was super fun as it meant bringing people to the RIG Gaming booth to check out what the team were up to, while engaging in discussions around the light-weight and wireless gaming headset that was being offered as a prize.
Thanks to the team at Elgato Gaming, we were also given the opportunity to stream live from PAX AUS at the Elgato streaming pods, which was such a fantastic experience as the set up was simply great for quality broadcasting.
When we weren’t on the show floor, we were at closed door briefings with Riot Games, where we were treated to an early preview of the publisher’s newest game, Legends of Runeterra; experiencing the best of ray-tracing with NVIDIA, who gave us a fantastic demo of Minecraft with RTX; learning more about the new line of peripherals coming to HyperX; interviewing a CD Projekt Red producer about Cyberpunk 2077; playing a fantastic but short-lived demo for DOOM Eternal; and of course, being part of a panel, wherein I spoke about working in games and not following the path my Asian family would have liked me to.
Beyond that, this year, we also focused our time on hunting for pins, with our most prized one being the Link’s Awakening pin from Nintendo. Hunting for themed ‘treasure’ around the entire convention centre was both tiring and fun. I would certainly do it again!
All in all, PAX AUS this year was filled with a lot more to see and do that there just wasn’t enough time to truly experience it all as a member of the media and a content creator. There was just so many good activations and games on show that Tom and I couldn’t bring ourselves to split up and visit each booth separately. We wanted to see them ALL!
With this year being our fourth PAX AUS, I, for one, can easily say that the gaming convention is only getting better and better and I’m excited to see what the future holds, especially with a new Xbox and PlayStation console slated to release next year, as well as a slew of epic gaming titles.