It’s PAX West time once again, and Microsoft is taking full advantage of the event being is being held in its home state of Washington. Open to the public, the company’s pre-PAX ID@Xbox open house event takes place on Thursday on the Microsoft campus in Redmond. Complimentary buses will ferry guests from the Washington State Convention Center to the open house, where fans can try over 50 video games from indie developers using the ID@Xbox publishing platform. The event is free, and it offers complimentary soda along with the chance to win prizes such as an Xbox One, branded apparel, controllers and even tickets to the sold-out PAX event.

In addition to hands-on play time with games like Outlast 2, Everspace, Cuphead, Pit People and new content for ARK: Survival Evolvedthose who attend the event can collect pins for each of the games and meet the developers. The event gives Microsoft’s independent development partners a chance to shine before the holiday season and creates personal memories for those who attend, introducing emotion to future game-buying decisions.

microsoft pax west

Naturally, Microsoft will have a presence inside the convention center as well, showing off titles that were announced during E3Gears of War 4Halo Wars 2, Forza Horizon 3, Dead Rising 4, ReCore and Battlefield 1. Taking up three booths in the North Hall, Microsoft will offer hands-on game demos and eight custom Xbox One S 2TB consoles, which convention-goers can snap a picture of and share on social media for a chance to win. Each console bears designs inspired by Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2, Forza Horizon 3, Dead Rising 4, ReCore, Sea of Thieves, Battlefield and Final Fantasy XVThose outside of PAX can still enter for a chance to win one of the consoles by re-tweeting a message from Xbox on Twitter.

The biggest push from the game publisher is Gears of War 4, which is debuting its new Horde 3.0 and Arms Race modes for fans to try. Based on their performance, players can win t-shirts, pins, physical gear packs and on Saturday, a special poster drawn by comic book artist, Tony Moore.

Frontline marketing such as the ID@Xbox open house and Gears of War 4 challenge make the emotional difference between “I heard that game is cool” and “I remember the time I played that game at Microsoft.” As we near the big holiday shopping season, time will tell whether these tactics have paid off, especially since Gears of War 4 launches October 11.