It’s a brand new year and for video game fans, the clock is already counting down until the next big gaming event. From E3 to BlizzCon, each expo has its own following, flavor and line-up that continues to evolve with the high-tech industry. With a whole new line-up of games and consoles to unveil, these industry showcases will be here before you know it.
Electronic Arts broke off from the pack last year, surprising everyone by foregoing the E3 status quo in favor of its own event off campus. EA Play made its debut at the Novo Theater, where fans (press or not) could get their hands on the latest titles like Titanfall 2, FIFA 17 and Battlefield 1. A 64-player Battlefield 1 tournament drew in thousands of fans (with a little help from celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Zac Efron), and featured a number of live broadcasted interviews and gameplay videos.
This year, EA will no doubt bring a strong line-up of its pillar sports titles and everything Star Wars for fans to enjoy.
As the power of influencers continues to rise, consumers often wonder if the press-focused E3 is still relevant. Although the event has certainly evolved, industry professionals say that E3 is not only relevant, but alive and well. Publishers save their biggest announcements for the summer blowout, developers gain valuable networking and exposure, and everyone who attends keeps their finger on the pulse of the industry. As for influencers, E3 is the perfect place for streaming and creating updates for their own channels. The show generated more than seven million posts on Twitter last year, as well as over 500,000 likes from E3-related posts on Instagram.
Publishers and brands took advantage of E3 2016 to inspire fans across the world from Nintendo’s real-life Hyrule booth to Doritos’ #MixArcade, so there’s no reason to believe 2017 will be any different.
Open to the public, the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is famous for its hands-on video game demos, publisher displays, and (of course) a whole lot of cosplay. The yearly event continues to expand across the world with PAX Dev, East, West, South and AU—bringing fans and developers together before the holiday release season and reinforcing hype for titles announced during E3. Last year’s PAX West was a sold out event that showed how the industry get-together has become more tech-savvy, diverse and rooted in nostalgia.
These events aren’t just for gaming brands, either—last year, PAX East became a hub for fun marketing ideas like Totino’s bucking couch and Uber’s Overwatch-themed vehicles. Building on the hype that surrounds PAX is a great opportunity for brands to connect, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.
The largest video game event of its kind, Gamecom takes place each year in Cologne, Germany where the press and video game fans gather for the latest announcements, hands-on demos and more. This year will mark Gamecom’s ninth year, and if it’s anything like last time, the event will favor influencers over press, and VR and mobile will make a big push. Much like EA’s decision to sit out E3, other publishers decided not to hold press conferences at Gamescom last year, including Microsoft and Sony. Instead, Microsoft celebrated the 15th anniversary of Xbox with Xbox Fan Fest, a community event where anyone could get hands-on demos of games like Gears of War 4.
With the launch of PSVR and Xbox One S, this year’s Gamescom is anticipated to host more virtual and 4K playing demos than ever before.
Paris Games Week
ESports was a major focus at Paris Games Week last year, with the Electronic Sports World Cup. The global competition featured the best players across Just Dance 17, CS:GO, Clash Royale and FIFA 17. As with Gamescom 2016, large publishers like Sony and Microsoft abandoned press conferences in favor of hands-on fan events with the hope of enticing influencers. Fans were surprised that Nintendo didn’t make an appearance, as the event would have been timed perfectly with the announcement of the new Switch console. That will most likely change in 2017, with the Switch hitting shelves this spring along with a number of launch titles to show off.
In its fourth year, this annual event held in Anaheim, California caters not to the press, but to the fans. In addition to letting fans get their hands on some of these upcoming titles, last year’s PlayStation Experience hosted developer panels and eSports events as well. The Capcom Cup Finals were hosted at the show, as well as the Call of Duty World League. Following the launch of PSVR and all those game announcements from last year’s show, 2017’s PlayStation Experience will once again put fans in the center of the action.
Last year’s Blizzcon attracted over 25,000 visitors from 60 countries and even more viewers across 70 broadcasts in 19 languages. This event marked three major anniversaries for Blizzard Entertainment: the company’s 25th anniversary, the 20th anniversary of Diablo and the 10th BlizzCon, which has grown more than six times since its inaugural year. Although this year probably won’t have the benefit of a new game launch to help get fans excited, the emphasis on eSports, marked by last year’s announcement of the Overwatch League, means 2017’s BlizzCon will no doubt feature big surprises to attract attendees.