Cool Mini or Not at PAX Prime 2012
Hello from Seattle, Washington!
Specifically from the commerce-laden dealer halls and gamer-filled corridors of PAX Prime 2012… otherwise known as the Penny Arcade Expo. For anyone in the gaming industry, PAX represents one of the most interesting gaming conventions we can attend. Its extravagant exhibitor booths, sneak previews of awesome new games, and enormous attendance (100,000+ attendees!) give companies like Cool Mini or Not a chance to help bridge the gap between video game-centric fans and board/card/miniatures game fans. If sales at the Cool Mini or Not booth were any indicator, this effort was a complete success!
When the show opened and gamers of all types started rushing into the halls, Cool Mini had an enormous pyramid of Zombicide board game boxes, a wall of the new Super Dungeon Explore expansion: Caverns of Roxxor, and a dazzling display case filled with miniatures from Relic Knights – Cool Mini’s currently growing Kickstarter campaign. Three demo tables and a separate room for extended play of Cool Mini’s games meant the booth was constantly a buzz during business hours, sometimes with 8 – 10 people waiting around per table to get in for another game or demo! The stocks were flying off the shelves, and by Saturday at lunchtime all of the Caverns of Roxxor were gone, with Zombicide and Super Dungeon Explore core boxes selling out by mid-morning on Sunday.
Regular sales were not the only boon Cool Mini saw from PAX, however. After their announcement of the Penny Arcade personalities’ – Gabe and Tycho themselves! – addition to the Relic Knights Kickstarter stretch goals, the Relic Knights demo table was a booth attraction. This attention must have worked, as in just the few days of the convention, the Kickstarter for relic Knights exploded by more than $50,000 and several new goals were unlocked! There are only a few days left of the Kickstarter, so I’d say we should all get in on the momentum while we still can!
Elsewhere in the dealer hall we had several other non-video game industry moguls bringing their wares to the show as well. Our friends over at Catalyst Games brought all of their Shadowrun, Battletech, Leviathans and other game lines…but their room was also home to several monitors running the beta of Mechwarrior Online. Next door to them was the sound of boardgames being played at full volume at the Fantasy Flight Games playroom; tables full of their new X-Wing ship combat game, Game of Thrones and several others kept the tables packed all three days.
Other industry giants like Wizards of the Coast and Mayfair Games were in attendance, each with their own booths packed with gamers enjoying new products and old, but it was the return of an old favorite that made me smile…Games Workshop!
Part of the sales booth for Forgeworld and the Black Library was dedicated to the release of the new Warhammer 40,000 boxed set: Dark Vengeance, which was not too much of a surprise with their appearance at Adepticon and GenCon. What was fantastically great at PAX though, was the Games Workshop’s sponsored demo room filled with tables for Warhammer 40,000. It was nice to see them in public events again; even if people might give them grief for their business practices, it makes me smile to know they are out bringing new blood to the industry as a whole again.
Despite this being a report from the tabletop games’ point of view, we should at least talk for a few minutes about some of the AMAZING video game displays and events we got to see while we were there. While there were tons of great games found throughout the show (Hawken, Guncraft, Castle Crashers, and Lego Lord of the Rings to name a few), there were three big games that stood out to me.
One of the biggest draws to the show was the League of Legends Season 2 North American Regionals. This free-to-play, micro-transaction based online fantasy battle game by Riot Games was HUGE at this show. Between an entire ballroom of the convention center dedicated to massive screens playing the game (with smaller feeds elsewhere to watch) and the countless costumes, hats, wristbands and other “LoL” merchandise… you could not walk ten feet without seeing something for League of Legends.
Firefall, an amazing soon-to-be-released free online multiplayer first person shooter from Red 5 Studios, was as striking on the screen as the life-sized drop-pod and soldiers standing in the middle of their booth! This game is going to be big if our guesses are anything to stand by, and their booth was truly a marvel.
The big winner, as far as video games go, in my opinion was the massive… and I mean MASSIVE… booth area for trying out Borderlands 2 from Gearbox Software. With a rusty-pipe styled monitor arrangement surrounding a life-sized, cell-shade colored sculpture of the game’s four main characters, the booth was as completely awesome as the game itself. Considering the whole booth was wrapped in a fifty-foot tall wall of Borderlands 2 artwork, screen shots and epic pictures of the game, there aren’t words for how great this booth’s presence was. Coming out on September 18th, this game is going to dominate the video game industry - and a lot of our time to boot!
PAX was a fantastic show for everyone; consumers, board gamers, miniature gamers and video gamers alike. It was a real treat to be there, and if the record numbers and stock-destroying sales are a hint to the future… the gaming industry as a whole is reaching another golden age.
… and thank the deity of your choice for that!