Gaming Blurbs: Post PAX East thoughts

This post is now very late, I know. A post I meant to put up around the close of PAX kinda got lost in crunch hours & other stuff, but probably for the better, because I have actually just now finally seen some of the results of what PAX can do.

PAX East was interesting for me because it was the first time I had been at a non industry-only games convention. I went to NYCC last year, but that show, despite having a ton of games around, just wasn’t focused enough on games for me to get a real vibe of what was really hitting home. Even Marvel’s booth was kind of a mess with Marvel Super Hero Squad Infinity Gauntlet as a prominently featured title, most likely strictly for the kiddies, which just goes to show the caliber of titles on display. Besides the Capcom booth with MVC3 and getting Inafune’s signature, there wasn’t anything at NYCC that I was very excited about.

I went to PAX East to demo games and see the sights in between 20 minute demo sessions. Old Republic blared just outside my booth, Child of Eden pleased crowds directly across from me and a sea of hired agency/actual company employees intermingled with hordes of fans eager to try out everything and anything. The 3DS was also making a huge splash, but I already had mine reserved so I decided to focus my energy on meeting new people and seeing old friends. Indie games had their prominent place (unlike the tucked away Indiecade booth at E3 this year) and everything seemed great for the big guys, the indies, and everyone in between.

But as you may have read, Child of Eden (arguably one of the best games of recent times, let alone for Kinect) tanked at retail moving only 34K it’s first month on Xbox 360 in the US. This saddens me and opened up my eyes to exactly what type of crowd you get at PAX, the hardcore gamer type that will go for the more niche titles. You don’t have to sell games like Child of Eden to them because they have already made up their mind if the next Tetsuya Mizuguchi game is on their wishlists. This might seem like a “no duh” moment, but I really thought PAX would be made up of more of a larger demographic… In that regard PAX is akin to SDCC in that something with a massive fan reaction could very well tank.

In the end what I took away from the whole situation was that a large ad campaign is very important and a show like PAX can’t be relied on for feedback. Now I don’t think shows like PAX should be cut out of the picture when it comes to marketing because fan interaction is amazing and very important. I’m sure PAX created at least a little more of a buzz for Child of Eden in the hardcore community, just obviously not enough.

I think Child of Eden could have done with a lot more of an aggressive and innovative marketing push to go with the games out there concepts. Maybe it’s because I didn’t study marketing in school, but I never understand avoiding spending some money to aggressively sell a new game concept, all it ever seems to do is end in the product being thrown in the bargain bin.