Play Animal Crossing: New Horizons First at PAX East 2020

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Nintendo has announced that one of the most highly anticipated games of the year, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, will be playable for the first time to the public at the PAX East 2020 gaming convention.

PAX East is one of the biggest gaming conventions of the year, taking place in Boston, MA. This year PAX East 2020 is a bit earlier than usual, falling on the last weekend of February, Feb. 27 to March 1.

An entire booth will be decked out in Animal Crossing theme, including photo opportunities with life-size environments and costumed characters such as Isabelle, Tom Nook, and K.K. Slider. Attendees will get a first-ever chance to play the Animal Crossing: New Horizons demo. The demo stage will also feature a tour of the game’s single-player mode, showcasing island activities such as crafting, gardening, fishing, and decorating. Attendees will receive a Tom Nook tote bag, while supplies last.

“We hope fans are eager to visit the deserted island paradise of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, so this year at PAX East we’re bringing the island with us and inviting all attendees to play the game for the first time,” said Nick Chavez, Senior VP, Nintendo of America. “We’re looking forward to meeting with players and truly bringing our shared love of games to life.”

Nintendo will also feature playable demos for Pokémon Sword and Shield, and receive a special Galar postcard. If you bring your own Switch and copy of Pokémon, you can compete with others in Max Raid Battles, and earn special pins.

If you’d rather not wait half a day to play a demo, check out Nintendo’s Warp Pipe Pass program to reserve a limited spot, starting on Feb. 25 at 5 pm Eastern/2 pm Pacific.

PAX East Four Day tickets are currently still available, though Saturday single-day passes are sold out. PAX East 2020 kicks off this Thursday, Feb. 27. Animal Crossing: New Horizons releases March 20 on Nintendo Switch.

The Latinx Lounge and PAX Together Booth Were Fantastic New Additions to PAX

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Image source: Latinx in Gaming

Tucked away in a second floor conference room at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas was an experimental section of PAX South 2020. The Latinx Lounge was a new area of the gaming convention hosted by the Latinx in Gaming community, and dedicated to providing games, panels and events featuring latinx creators, developers, and personalities.

The Latinx Lounge was a fantastic idea, and the organizers did a great job stuffing as many events as possible over the three-day convention, including panels with notable developers and streamers (some entirely in Spanish), a one-shot D&D live show in a world inspired by Latin America, and even Friday night Salsa dancing lessons.

The lounge also held a number of indie game from latinx developers, including Nevegante, Stonebot Studio, and HyperBeard Games. When the conference room wasn’t holding a full-scale event, the room was open for anyone to wander in and check out the games that awkwardly encircled the perimeter.

Unfortunately for those developers, PAX South goers have little reason to explore beyond the first floor of the convention center, which hosts the bright lights and loud noises of the PAX Arena tournament, the always busy hustle of the developers and vendors in the Expo Hall, and the more subdued but popular tabletop freeplay and tournament area.

In fact one of PAX South’s most unique features, the escape room-esque True Dungeon experience, was moved to the first floor next to the Expo Hall. And with the unique way the convention center is laid out, attendees can quickly jump back and forth between the handheld lounge on the 2nd floor above the entrance lobby, or even reach the third floor to access the PC and console freeplay areas, without ever walking past the Latinx Lounge.

At PAX South 2020, the only reason to explore the back end of the second floor (beyond the expo hall) was to attend a panel in one of the smaller theaters. Given the amount of panels and events hosted in the Latinx Lounge, it made sense to utilize a more private conference room. But it also meant the developers who wanted to showcase their games to passersby got the short end of the stick.

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D&D live play at the Latinx Lounge. Image source: Reedpop

I dropped by the Latinx Lounge early Sunday afternoon, having spent two full days in the expo hall demoing games and chatting with developers and publishers. The room was so empty that at first I wasn’t sure I was in the right place. Lining the walls were several friendly developers with demo stations of their upcoming games. I didn’t have to make any appointments to jump on and play several of them in a row – a feat that’s largely impossible on the busy show floor.

I’m glad I made the time to go check it out, as I demoed some of my favorite games of the entire convention, including Stonebot’s 2D tower-defense brawler, The Last Friend, and Nevegante’s party-based platformer, Greak. All the developers were friendly and eager to chat, and some brought along game-branded merchandise to sell or hand out. But these games would have been much better served with a dedicated presence on the expo hall. Judging from this year’s map, the expo hall had plenty of room to spare.

Better Together

A great example of ceding more prominent space to a new initiative was PAX Together. Like the indie-focused PAX Rising and Tabletop Indie Showcase, PAX Together had a dedicated  space on the show floor that highlighted LGBTQ and other marginalized developers. It was hosted by Houston Gaymers and Gay Gaming Professionals and sponsored by Red Bull.

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Garden Story demo in PAX Together booth. Image source: Eric Watson

The games included in the PAX Together booth, like dating sim-meets-dungeon crawler Boyfriend Dungeon and the whimsical Zelda-like Garden Story, were not simply shoved into the Diversity Lounge, a dedicated space for underrepresented communities in gaming that has been an evolving feature of PAX conventions for the last several years. Thanks to Red Bull and the PAX Together organizers, they were given a prominent location in the expo hall with cheerful hosts and colorful banners to draw people in to check out the games.

PAX Together was a great source of relatively unknown (and completely unknown) indie games. Yet it was always a popular area thanks to its welcoming crew, open design, vibrant displays, and central location. I wish the games of the Latinx Lounge had been given the same treatment.

Both PAX Together and the Latinx Lounge brought many more developers – and more diverse developers, to PAX South 2020 than would otherwise have been able to attend. I saw a wider variety of games and met folks from varying backgrounds who enriched my PAX experience. Hopefully Latinx in Gaming can be given a proper booth in the expo hall in addition to hosting fun and insightful panels and events. I hope to see both initiatives become regular staples in all future PAX conventions.

Pokémon, Dragon Quest, Luigi’s Mansion at Nintendo’s PAX West Both

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The annual PAX West gaming convention in Seattle, WA is fast approaching: Aug. 30 – Sept 2. Nintendo has unveiled their lineup of games and activities at their booth on the show floor. As usual they’re showcasing upcoming Switch games such as Luigi’s Mansion 3, Dragon Quest XI S, and Pokémon Sword and Shield.

“PAX is one of our favorite events to attend, since we get to bring upcoming games and experiences directly to our fans,” said Nick Chavez, Senior Vice President, Nintendo of America. “We have a robust lineup of new, high-quality games coming to Nintendo Switch throughout 2019. Our booth at PAX West is a great opportunity for fans to try out just a taste of some of these incredible games before they launch later this year.”

The following games will be playable at the Nintendo booth (#1939):

  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Oct. 31)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Sept. 20)
  • Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield (Nov. 15)
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition (Sept. 27)
  • Daemon X Machina (Sept. 13)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Complete Edition (Oct. 15)
  • Minecraft Dungeons (Q2 2020)

In addition to demo stations, the booth will feature a Luigi statue for photos and a handcrafted diorama of the world of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. All three color versions of the new Nintendo Switch Lite (Sept. 20) will be on display as well.

Those interested in Dragon Quest will want to attend (or more likely, stream) the Square Enix hosted developer panel called Dragon Quest Then & Now: Echoes Through the Ages. The panel looks at how the developers maintain the series’ classic roots while catering to a modern-day RPG audience. The panel begins at 10:30 am Pacific in the Raven Theatre at the nearby Hyatt Regency, and will be streamed live at twitch.tv.

PAX West 2019 will take place Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. Currently only Monday tickets are still available.

PAX West 2019 Schedule and Exhibitor List Now Available

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The full schedule of panels, tournaments, and events at PAX West 2019 has been revealed. The mega-popular annual gaming convention takes place later this month, Friday August 30 – Monday, September 2 in Seattle, Washington.

Most tickets are sold out, but you can still grab Friday-only, and Monday-only badges.

PAX West 2019’s schedule includes panels and podcasts from big gaming websites and YouTubers including Giant Bomb, IGN, and Mega64. Event panels include AAA developers on upcoming games, such as Gearbox and Borderlands 3 (Friday, 1pm Pacific) and Square Enix on Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers on Sunday (2:30 pm Pacific). Gaming-themed concerts, tournaments, and other events can be found throughout the weekend.

“I love PAX West because we get to have a one-of-a-kind event that’s focused on our fans, and has so many incredible games and live events in once place” said Jerry Holkins, co-founder, Penny Arcade. “Also, we’re the only show where you can see the show organizers get up on stage dressed in fantasy costumes and play Dungeons and Dragons.” The live D&D show Acquisistions Incorporated takes place Friday at 7:30 pm Pacific.

The show floor features booths from the biggest publishers in gaming down to tiny indie developers. Big names in attendance include Nintendo, PlayStation, Ubisoft, and Capcom.

PAX is produced by Penny Arcade in conjunction with event planner ReedPOP. Several PAX conventions are hosted throughout the year around the country, as well as in Australia. PAX West remains the original PAX convention and the most popular, with tickets selling out almost instantly. Many events and panels will be live streamed throughout the weekend via official PAX Twitch and YouTube channels.

PAX West 2019, PAX Unplugged 2019 Dates Revealed

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ReedPOP and Penny Arcade have announced the dates for PAX West 2019 and PAX Unplugged 2019. PAX West will take place August 30 – September 2 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. PAX Unplugged, which will be the 50th PAX convention, has been bumped one week later from last year, running December 6 – 8 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

“When we came up with all this, I don’t think we could ever have imagined putting on 50 of these events and counting,” said Jerry Holkins, co-founder, PAX and Penny Arcade. “We can’t wait to welcome the gaming community to our home in Seattle this summer, and to our Winter Lair in Philadelphia this December. We hope you’ll be able to join us.”

PAX West is the most attended gaming convention on the West Coast. It features an exhibition hall, a competitive PAX Arena, industry panels, autographs signings with streamers, concerts, and other attractions.

The third annual PAX Unplugged convention focuses entirely on tabletop games. For 2019 the convention will expand into a larger expo hall to fit even more board games, card games, and tabletop RPGs. PAX Unplugged also features live shows and panels with designers.

PAX Unplugged 2019 badges will go on sale May 9. PAX West 2019 tickets will go on sale later this month.

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God of War Director Will Deliver Keynote for PAX South 2019

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Sony Santa Monica Studios game designer Cory Barlog will deliver the Storytime keynote address at PAX South 2019. PAX South takes place Jan. 18-20, 2019 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Barlog is best known for the God of War series. He was lead animator for the original God of War in 2003, then directed the sequel God of War 2. He left in 2009 to pursue other game design companies, including LucasArts and Crystal Dynamics. He recently returned to Sony in 2013 to direct the God of War reboot that released earlier this year.

God of War (2018) has enjoyed critical and commercial success, becoming one of the best-selling games of the year.

PAX began life as the Penny Arcade Expo. It was launched in part by the gaming webcomic due of Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik.

“Doing a sequel to a beloved game is a unique challenge, and so is rebooting a franchise for a modern audience – Cory Barlog has done both,” said Jerry Holkins, co-founder, Penny Arcade. “We’re overjoyed to have him join us at PAX South. If I get the chance, I’m gonna tell him about this place I know in San Antonio where they make the guacamole with Orange Juice instead of Lime. It sounds crazy, but it works.”

PAX South 2019 will mark the fifth PAX South convention. Like most PAX conventions it features a large expo hall of new and upcoming games, geeky vendors, concerts, tournaments, and gameplay stations.

Tickets are still available. Three day passes are $85. Single day tickets are $42. Special Sunday Kid Badges (ages 7-12) are available for a reduced price of $10.

The next PAX event is in Australia with PAX Aus, which takes place this weekend, Oct 26 – 28 in Melbourne. The next US-based PAX is the board game focused PAX Unplugged, which runs Nov. 30 – Dec. 2 in Pennsylvania, PA.