EB Expo Experience Extravaganza

Posted in Kulturecade by - November 02, 2017
EB Expo Experience Extravaganza

Around this time every year, I see a number of my fellow Aussie gamers complaining that PAX only comes to one city in Australia for just one weekend, leaving a lot of Aussie gamers without an opportunity to join in on the phenomenon for one reason or another. I understand where the frustration comes from – with absolutely no statistics to back me up, I feel rather comfortable in claiming that the percentage of the general population that would identify as gaming enthusiasts in both the USA and Australia would be fairly comparable. So it sure does feel like we have a somewhat thriving gaming enthusiast scene here. But Australia has one-thirteenth the population of the US in a landmass similar in size, so it doesn’t make much financial sense for the PAX event organisers and exhibitors to shuttle the event around to each major city.

Meanwhile, the hunger for a large-scale event that celebrates the Australian gaming community continues to grow, and the GameStop company is doing their best to capitalise on it by strategically hosting the EB Games Expo each year around the same time as PAX, in a major city that PAX won’t be going to. For the past few years, the event has been held in Sydney. Earlier this month, the convention returned to the Gold Coast in Queensland, where it originally began way back in 2011 – and I decided to check it out.

Upon arriving at the convention centre, before even stepping onto the show floor two of my suspicions were immediately confirmed: one, this is a much smaller scale to PAX; and two, this convention is primarily a marketing tool for EB Games.

Heading into the exhibition centre further cemented my conclusions. The show floor was about ¼ the size of PAX and was dominated by major publisher booths like Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and Ubisoft, with a few hardware manufacturers and retailer booths peppered throughout. There were small spaces carved out for a dozen or so arcade machines set on free play, and a couple of tables of retro consoles set up to try out, but no areas dedicated to local Indie games. There was, however, ‘the world’s biggest EB Games store’ occupying a huge section of the show floor, where guests could line up for over an hour to grab some discounted games and pop-culture paraphernalia or to conveniently pre-order a title they had seen at an exhibitor’s booth.

Walking around the show floor, I began to feel a little bummed out by the whole thing. The only games being shown off were titles that had recently been released or were about to be released in the coming holiday season, and the lack of Indie games made the whole thing feel like a gigantic advertisement for EB Games that people were paying $50 to see.

Check out more pictures of Hugh’s trip by clicking the picture above.

But then I started talking to some of the other attendees. As I stood at the Bandai Namco booth watching in awe as people played Dragonball FighterZ, I started talking a guy next to me doing the same. We both agreed the game looked way better than we thought possible, and we couldn’t believe those E3 demo videos were legit. I left the convention to get some lunch from across the road and struck up a conversation with a girl that excitedly told me about the Detroit: Become Human demo. We then talked about Heavy Rain and she listed a few other similar games that I would probably enjoy.

Going back into the convention, I began paying attention to the people around me instead of the gigantic, flashy demo booths. I noticed groups of friends having conversations about their favourite games, cosplayers complementing each other’s outfits and in general, gamers getting a chance to be themselves and celebrate their hobby with other like-minded people.

I realised that despite its size and oppressive marketing motives, the EB Expo was still a tonne of fun for a lot of people that don’t usually get to experience these types of events. And when I began to think of it as a chance to celebrate gaming and pop-culture in my own backyard, I enjoyed it a lot more too.  Also, Dragonball FighterZ looks incredible

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He is a gaming staff writer for Kulture Shocked and the site’s unofficial southern hemisphere correspondent. When he’s not on the run from customs for importing Mortal Kombat games, you can find him slapping the bass in his Psych-Rock band Neptune Estate or enjoying the beautiful Queensland weather from the safety of his couch.

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