Penny Arcade Expo

Penny Arcade Expo
Penny Arcade Expo
PAX qjpreviewth.jpg
PAX logo
Status Active
Genre Gaming (tabletop, video-gaming, CCG, role-playing)

Washington State Convention Center (PAX Prime)

Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (PAX East)

Washington (state) Seattle, Washington (PAX Prime)

Massachusetts Boston, Massachusetts (PAX East)
Country  United States
First held 2004 (PAX Prime) 2010 (PAX East)
Organizer Penny Arcade
Attendance 70,000 (2011)
Official website

The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is a semi-annual gamer festival held in Seattle and Boston. PAX was created by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the authors of the Penny Arcade webcomic, because they wanted to attend a show that gave equal attention to console gamers, computer gamers, and tabletop gamers.

Created in 2004, PAX has been hailed as a weekend-long celebration of gamer culture. Defining characteristics include an insider keynote speech, game-inspired concerts, panels on game industry topics, exhibitor booths from independent and major game developers and publishers, after-hours parties, tournaments, and freeplay areas. Every PAX also features the Omegathon, a weekend long tournament of randomly selected attendees competing for a grand prize. The final round makes up the show's closing ceremony; past games for the final round have included Tetris, Pong, Halo 3, and Skee ball.

After many successful years of PAX, in 2010 the first PAX East was held in Boston, MA, with attendance levels that rivaled those of PAX 2009. From then on, the Washington conventions were referred to as PAX Prime in order to avoid confusion between the two.


PAX 2004

PAX attendees crowding the lobby of Bellevue's Meydenbauer Center

On April 12, 2004, the authors of Penny Arcade announced PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo.[1] PAX 2004 was a two-day event held at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington from August 28 to August 29, 2004, which they hoped would turn into an annual event. Several exhibitors, including Microsoft, Rooster Teeth and Ubisoft, showcased videos and playable demos of their upcoming games at PAX 2004. Microsoft allowed attendees to experience a multiplayer level of Halo 2 months before it hit stores in addition to a number of other Xbox games, while Ubisoft showed Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Ghost Recon 2 and two other titles.

Included amongst the events of the first PAX were live musical performances by bands including The Minibosses, panels featuring Penny Arcade creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins as well as others in the video game industry, and the Omegathon, a contest where twenty contestants played a series of games for a chance at winning an excessively large video game collection worth in excess of $25,000.

The contestants competed in a tabletop dice game called Diceland, Halo (Xbox), Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GameCube), Dance Dance Revolution, Doom (PC) and the original home version of Pong. Sean Celaya defeated Kevin Potter in the final round to take home the grand prize becoming the PAX 2004 Omegathon champion.

Penny Arcade claimed that precisely 1337 people pre-registered, to which Holkins mused, "though I ordinarily shun leet-speak that number clearly implies the blessing of gaming deities."[1] All told, about 3,300 people attended the event.

PAX 2005

Attendance at the Penny Arcade Expo

PAX 2005 took place from August 26 to August 28, 2005 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington, where the first PAX was held. PAX 2005, unlike its predecessor, occupied the entire center, effectively doubling the usable floor space. Sponsors included Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft and NCsoft, among others.

Musical guests included the rock groups The Minibosses and The Neskimos, self-professed "professional hardcore gangster rapper" mc chris, pianists Martin Leung and Connie Lin, nerdcore hiphopper MC Frontalot, and rap/funk group Optimus Rhyme, who performed live in two separate concerts in a massive theater.

Events from PAX 2004 such as Pitch Your Game Idea, Red vs. Blue, a screening of the 1989 film 'The Wizard', and Penny Arcade Q&A made encore appearances. New events included Beat The Pros and industry panels on online gaming, the videogame marketing process, and controversy in the industry.

Omegathon II was an even more elaborate affair than its predecessor. Krahulik said that, "[At PAX 2005] we will deliver an even bigger prize to the winner of the Omegathon."[2] It was revealed that prize would be the complete NES video game library, with a claimed value of at least $10,099.99.[3] The prize was locked in a large cage in the exhibition room and also included two Star Wars-themed Alienware gaming PCs, one of which would go to the winner and the other to the runner-up. Contestants competed in the tabletop game Diceland, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Katamari Damacy, Karaoke Revolution, Quake, and the Atari 2600 game Combat. In a four-round match, Luke "Coreside" Armstrong defeated Will "LeRoy" Garroutte by a single point to win the best-of-three series 2-1-1 and take home the grand prize. In total, more than 9,000 gamers attended PAX 2005, almost triple the previous year's attendance.

In response to Hurricane Katrina, Penny Arcade auctioned off the original pencil sketch of the PAX 2005 program cover on eBay with the profit to be given to the American Red Cross. It was sold to Christian Boggs for the final price of $8,700. Mr. Boggs also placed the winning bid of $20,000 on an auction to appear in a Penny Arcade comic strip at the 2005 Child's Play Charity Dinner.[4][5]

PAX 2006

PAX 2006 was held from August 25 to August 27, 2006. The Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue was again used as the venue, although the Tabletop Gaming area was moved offsite to the ballrooms at the nearby Red Lion hotel. Exhibit space at PAX 06 completely sold out in less than three months[citation needed], with exhibitors including Nintendo, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Turbine Inc, Technomancer Press, NCSoft, Rooster Teeth Productions, Creative Labs, Wizards of the Coast, and nVidia. Because they applied one month before PAX 2006, Sony was unable to attend, as exhibitor space was also sold out.[citation needed] According to Krahulik, there were 19,323 attendees.[6]

PAX 2006 Exhibitor Hall

In the Omegathon, returning Omeganaut Will "LeRoy" Garroutte defeated David "Davertron" Davis in the final round of the Omegathon: head to head Tetris. LeRoy took away a brand new Scion car fully loaded with custom wheels, custom sound, LCD tv, Xbox 360 Premium, wireless controllers, and more. Davertron left with an Xbox 360 Premium and $500 Best Buy gift card, and returned as an Omeganaut in 2007.

Holkins and PA business manager Robert Khoo led the way into Omegathon Round 5, Guitar Hero II. After playing through "Trippin on a Hole In a Paper Heart" on expert, Holkins smashed the guitar on stage.[7]

Krahulik and Holkins announced the first ever Penny Arcade video game. Titled "On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One", (which has since been released) and that the game would feature PA characters in episodic adventures. Details were few; when asked what the game was about, Holkins replied "Gabe. Tycho. And Cthulhu."

Krahulik and Holkins also announced a Penny Arcade annual scholarship, wherein one applicant with an intention to work in the game industry will be awarded $10,000 toward tuition expenses.[8]

Several game companies ran large prize tournaments and giveaways, including ArenaNet ($10,000 prize tourney), TableStar ($2,500 prize tourney), and Nvidia (several thousand dollars' worth of video cards).

PAX 2007

The fourth annual Penny Arcade Expo took place August 24 to August 27, 2007, and experienced its first year within the confines of the 130,000 square feet (12,000 m2) of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, more than doubling the space used to house PAX 2006.[9] The massive Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was heavily downsized in 2006, which allowed the growing Penny Arcade Expo to become the biggest gamer festival in North America. Headliners for 2007’s PAX included Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, as well as others such as Ubisoft, NCSoft, THQ, Wizards of the Coast, Namco-Bandai, Vivendi, Konami and 45 other game publishers and developers. The 2007 keynote speech was delivered by Wil Wheaton.

Attendance was reported at 39,000.[10] For the final round of the Omegathon, Ryan "Accalon" Zack and Ben "MNC Dover" Gray competed on never before seen levels of Halo 3. Accalon won the grand prize, $5000 and a trip to the Tokyo Game Show.

While the convention was housed on three of the floors of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, the exhibition hall was certainly a busy place, featuring educational, video game and tabletop exhibitors, as well as retailers. The layout of the exhibition hall allowed visitors to peruse through a variety of displays, offering places where they could win their weight in Ramen noodles or enter the World's Smallest Dungeon, as hosted by Technomancer Press.

PAX 2008

On October 26, 2007, Penny-Arcade Inc. announced PAX 2008. PAX '08 was again held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, and covered the weekend of August 29–31.[11] The exhibition hall space was doubled from that of 2007, and tabletop gaming and an additional panel room was located in the Pike Street Annex of the convention center, the first time this space has been used for PAX. Also new for 2008 was the "PAX 10", a judged selection of self-submitted independent games on which attendees voted for a favorite. PAX 10 selections include Chronotron, the Maw, and Schizoid. To account for crowds, one empty exhibition room was explicitly reserved for the purpose of holding queues for the popular events in the main theater and other queues as needed. The 2008 keynote was delivered by Ken Levine.

PAX 2008 came to a close with Fallout and Geko playing Vs. Excitebike, again for $5000 and a trip to the Tokyo Game Show. Geko was victorious.

The pre-show attendance estimate was 45,000, but this was soon feared to be a low guess.[12] The final count of tickets sold was reported as 58,500, including 45,000 pre-registered tickets. Despite the large increase in convention space, overflow still occurred at some events. [13]

PAX 2009

PAX 2009 was held on September 4–6, 2009 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.[14] The keynote speaker was Ron Gilbert. Musical guests included previous performers Anamanaguchi, Freezepop, Jonathan Coulton, Molly Lewis and MC Frontalot, along with first-time PAX appearances by Metroid Metal and Paul & Storm.

For the first time, PAX occupied the entire convention center to accommodate an increase in attendees.[15] Despite the increase in capacity, two days before the start of the show, PAX passes were sold out for the first time. Penny Arcade then announced that no passes would be sold on-site, however circumstances allowed on-site sales of 1,000 extra one-day passes each for Saturday and Sunday.[16][17] The total attendance of the 2009 convention was 60,750.[18]

After many attendees reported feeling sick,[19] an H1N1 outbreak was later confirmed.[20][21][22] At least 100 cases of H1N1 virus infections were confirmed in attendees after the convention.[23]

PAX East 2010

The first PAX East was held March 26 to March 28, 2010 at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts.[24] A partnership was arranged with Reed Exhibitions to handle the logistics of the expo. This event, first announced in August 2008,[24] was the first Penny Arcade Expo outside Washington state.

On December 23, 2009, Mike Krahulik announced that the number of pre-registrants indicate PAX East Coast may exceed the number of attendees of any previous PAX.[25] It was later announced in January 2010 that tickets for PAX East were close to selling out, and that attendance would most likely be capped as the previous PAX 2009, leaving little-to-no tickets being available at the door for the event. On February 3, 2010 Penny Arcade Expo's business head Robert Khoo updated his Twitter page with word that 3-day badges had sold out for the event.[26]

Later in February 2010 the lineup of exhibitors and panel discussions were announced for the full weekend, along with the announcement of the musical guests planned to perform at the event, such as Anamanaguchi, Metroid Metal, MC Frontalot, The Protomen, the Video Game Orchestra, and Jonathan Coulton. The keynote speaker was also announced to be Wil Wheaton, who had previously given the keynote at PAX Prime 2007.

The final attendance count was revealed to be 52,290 attendees for the full weekend of PAX East.[27] Plans have been confirmed to use the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) for future PAX East conventions,[28] likely due to complaints of overcrowding and cramped event halls at the much smaller Hynes Convention Center. Penny Arcade has signed an agreement to keep the show in Boston through 2013.[29][30]

PAX Prime 2010

Pax Prime 2010

PAX Prime 2010 was held from September 3–5, and took place at the Washington State Convention Center for the fourth time. Musical guests included Anamanaguchi, Jonathan Coulton, MC Frontalot, Metroid Metal, The Minibosses, Paul and Storm, Martin O'Donnell, and The Protomen.[31] For the first time since occupying the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, PAX 2010 included events at offsite locations. Instead of occupying an exposition hall at the Center, the keynote speech, large panels, and concerts were held down the street at Seattle's Benaroya Hall, normally the venue for the Seattle Symphony and other fine performance arts. The keynote was given by Warren Spector. The newly renovated Pike St. Annex (since renamed to The Conference Center) will again be used (as it was in 2007), as well as registration and one panel room located at the nearby Sheraton. These changes have allowed PAX 2010's expo hall to double in size over 2009.[32] Attendance for this year's PAX was reported at 67,600, compared to PAX 2009's 60,750. [33]

Notable games:

Notable hardware:

  • Microsoft Kinect

PAX East 2011

The second annual PAX East was held March 11 to March 13, 2011. Contrary to the previous year, it wasn't held at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, but in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, or BCEC, in Boston, Massachusetts. The BCEC boasts a total area of 516,000 square feet (47,900 m2), over the Hynes' 193,000 square feet (17,900 m2) [289,100 square feet (26,860 m2) including the theater and meeting rooms].

The year's musical guests included Jonathan Coulton, MC Frontalot, Metroid Metal, Paul and Storm, The Protomen, and the Video Game Orchestra (VGO).[34] The keynote speaker was Jane McGonigal.

PAX Dev 2011

Being held for the first time in 2011, PAX Dev is an event exclusive to the game development community. It took place on the two days prior to PAX Prime 2011, August 24th and 25th, at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. There was only be 750 attendees, all of whom are involved in game development. Press were not allowed to attend the event. [35]

PAX Prime 2011

Announced on the PAX Prime website on January 13th 2011, PAX Prime 2011 took place from August 26th to August 28th. The event brought in over 70,000 attendees, breaking the attendance record set at PAX East 2011 and making it the largest PAX to date.[36]

PAX East 2012

PAX East 2012 is scheduled for April 6–8 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.


  1. ^ Krahulik, Mike (2004-04-12). "PAX is coming!". Penny Arcade. Retrieved 2010-07-14. 
  2. ^ Krahulik, Mike (2005-02-09). "PAX '05". Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  3. ^ Krahulik, Mike (2005-02-09). "Huge NES Collection". Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  4. ^ Krahulik, Mike (2005-12-14). "Charity Dinner!". Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  5. ^ Holkins, Jerry (2006-02-06). "In The House Of Boggs". Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  6. ^ Krahulik, Mike (2005-02-09). "PAX 2006". Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  7. ^ Grant, Christopher (2006-08-27). "PAX: Tycho melts faces at Guitar Hero Omegathon challenge". Joystiq. Weblogs, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  8. ^ Dillon, Beth (2006-08-28). "Penny Arcade Announces $10,000 Game Education Scholarship". Gamasutra. Think Services. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  9. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (2007-01-26). "Penny Arcade Expo doubles in size". Gamespot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  10. ^ Magrino, Tom (2009-08-29). "PAX 2010 descends on Boston". Gamespot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 2009-09-07. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  11. ^ "PAX 2008 Dates Announced" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  12. ^ Callaham, John (2008-08-08). "Big Download Interview: Robert Khoo on Penny Arcade Expo 2008". Big Download. AOL LLC.. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  13. ^ Callaham, John (2008-09-01). "Penny Arcade Expo: 58,500 attendees". Big Download. AOL LLC.. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  14. ^ "Penny Arcade Expo 2009". 
  15. ^ Magrino, Tom (2009-02-19). "PAX 2009 preregistration begins". Gamespot. CBS Interactive Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  16. ^ Holkins, Jerry (2009-08-21). "PAX: 3-Day Passes Are Sold Out". Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  17. ^ Holkins, Jerry (2009-08-31). "Iteration". Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  18. ^ Callaham, John (2009-09-12). "Exclusive: PAX 2009 brings in 60,750 attendees". bigdownload. AOL. Archived from the original on 2009-10-14. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  19. ^ Barber, Tyler (2009-09-08). "Swine Flu Emerges at PAX". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  20. ^ Krahulik, Mike (2009-09-07). "Feeling Sick?". Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  21. ^ "Swine Flu Outbreak At PAX". Slashdot. SourceForge, Inc.. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  22. ^ Smith, Peter (2009-09-09). "Confirmed H1N1 cases at PAX". IT World. The IDG Network. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  23. ^ Mastrapa, Gus (2009-09-09). "PAX Swine Flu Outbreak Soars to Nearly 100 Cases of ‘H1Nerd1′". Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  24. ^ a b "Updates". Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Sliwinski, Alexander (2010-03-31). "Inaugural PAX East has 52,290 attendees, returns to Boston next March". Joystiq. AOL LLC.. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  28. ^ Sliwinski, Alexander (2010-03-29). "PAX East returns to Boston in 2011 and 2012, in bigger venue". Joystiq. AOL LLC.. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  29. ^ Video gaming conference PAX East commits to Hub for three years
  30. ^ PAX East to play in Boston longer, moving to BCEC
  31. ^ PAX Prime 2010 performers and exhibitors announced
  32. ^ Khoo, Robert (2010-07-18). "Changes for PAX '10 (and we need your help to spread the word)". Penny Arcade Forums. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  33. ^ "PAX Prime 2010 Attendance: 67,600". GameDaily. 
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^

External links

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