Adjust your schedules
E3, Gamescom, and PAX all felt bigger than usual in 2013, which we anticipate happening again this year. No one could've predicted Microsofts implosion at E3 or Sonys many PS4 reveals at Gamescom, but we did know when those would happen, based on how far ahead of time those events get announced. And you can use the same calendar magic to plan out 2014 too.
We have 12 months of gaming ahead of us, and--beyond any new games--that means there are a number of massive conventions and events to attend. But which are worth even paying attention to online, let alone travelling for? Just read this chronological countdown of the 2014s grandest gamer gatherings...
Game Developers Conference
When and where? March 17-21 in San Francisco, CA
Whats it like? Game Developers Conference started off as a simple way to bring together the many different creators that live in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. But as the community of developers grew, people started coming from all over the world to discuss the art of making games, and some major creators even began using GDC as a platform for making gaming news with full-blown announcements. So while the show still has some very informative panels (on top of great networking and job opportunities for industry professionals), its starting to become a mini-E3 with regards to news.
What might happen? Last year saw the continued growth of GDC as an industry event, playing host to the reveal of games on the scale of Metal Gear Solid 5, so who knows what will happen at this years GDC. And outside of straightforward announcements, any panel has the potential for an interesting tidbit or accidental tease. With developers the world over coming to San Francisco, you can expect at least a few new rumors to surface.
When and where? April 11-13 in Boston, MA
Whats it like? So many American gaming events favor the West Coast, so New England gamers were no doubt happy when Penny Arcade Expo set up shop in Boston. PAX East was a very quick success, and in spite of any controversy Penny Arcades creators may suffer, the show is clearly still a hit, given how quickly badges sold out this year. But even if you cant get into the show, there will likely be much you can appreciate from afar when panels are being increasingly live streamed on Twitch and UStream.
What might happen? PAX Easts April dates are nestled snugly between GDC and E3, so a number of mid-sized reveals tend to happen in Boston. 2013 saw new Borderlands 2 DLC, a Civ V expansion, and some playable exposure to XCOM: Enemy Within, so major DLC and updates could take the spotlight again. However, indie and downloadable games really made an impact last year, as PAX East hosted the reveals of Transistor, DuckTales, and Hearthstone, among many others. Smaller titles could make an even bigger splash in 2014.
E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo)
When and where? June 10-12 in Los Angeles, CA
Whats it like? Were not even going to pretend that you havent heard of this one. E3 has been the biggest gaming industry event for close to 20 years, and it isnt slowing down as this new console generation begins. Expects the biggest reveals of the year from all the big industry players, along with smaller titles that are worth searching the LA Convention Center for. It isnt open to the public, but if you can find a way in, its worth experiencing at least once.
What might happen? Boy, this was a lot easier to predict last year when two new consoles were clearly on the horizon. Now that the PS4 and Xbox One are both on store shelves, the focus will shift from hardware to software. It'll be prime time for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to show off the exclusives that will pull people in beyond the hardcore early adopters. And third parties will have a chance to show some truly next-gen games that arent hampered by a rush towards a system launch. With such a potential emphasis on content, this should be an E3 for the ages.
San Diego Comic-Con
When and where? July 24-27 in San Diego, CA (duh)
Whats it like? SDCC is the granddaddy of all comic book conventions, and over the course of decades, it's grown to the point that it basically swallows the city of San Diego whole for five days straight. Though it began as a way for comic industry professionals to meet with fans, it has transformed into a massive media event for film, TV, and (you guessed it) gaming.
What might happen? In the last couple years, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Capcom, Ubisoft, and Namco have all had large booths on the show floor. 2014 will likely be the same, so expect publishers of that size showcasing their recent E3 demos to a more informal audience--but we doubt Comic-Con will be limited to that. Though we dont expect anything too big, publishers have been known to unveil comic book tie-ins like Deadpool, along with new trailers for SDCC. Lastly, unlike the front-loaded E3, game reveals happen all show long at SDCC, keeping the excitement high for the entire five-day stretch.
When and where? August 13-17 in Cologne, Germany
Whats it like? Gamescom has been the biggest gaming event in Europe for some time, and it continues to grow with each year. Companies from all over the globe converge on Deutschland to show off new titles and demos, and its influence keeps expanding.And its open to the public, so no need to sneak in if you can afford it.
What might happen? Gamescom usually gets a flood of new demos from European devs, so we expect to see something new and playable from the likes of Ubisoft and CD Projekt, along with some big guns from North America and Japan. Sony typically makes the most noise at Gamescom, and we predict that'll continue now that the PS4 is finally out. Like in 2013, expect the publisher to tease a large number of PS4 games as well as attempting to boost the Vita in ways it desperately needs. Meanwhile, Microsoft needs to make up for lost ground in the territory, so maybe we'll see some major new info on some key Xbox One games.
When and where? August 30-September 2 in Seattle, WA
Whats it like? PAX Prime is the original Penny Arcade Expo, and it's grown to consume downtown Seattle every Labor Day weekend. Fans come for an atmosphere thats far less corporate than E3, and game companies recognize the benefits of interacting with excitable fans at each expo. Pretty much all the big publishers make an appearance, but because PAX is so close to the Seattle homes of Nintendo and Microsoft, those two usually have a larger showing than most.
What might happen? We expect at least a few new demos of Nintendo games, plus some Microsoft reveals, including a dusting of hints about the next Halo game (after it gets showcased at E3). PAX is also known for having a fairly strong focus on indie games, so expect to hear about some strange titles that could end up being the next Fez or Super Meat Boy.
Tokyo Game Show
When and where? September 18-21 in Tokyo, Japan (duh, again)
Whats it like? Tokyo Game Show is one of Asias largest gaming conventions, and for years it was where Japan shined a spotlight on its upcoming games. Over the last several shows, TGS international impact has been steadily shrinking, while show attendance has continued to grow, breaking records again in 2013 for number of attendees. Even if most Westerners cant get hyped for a new entry in the Monster Hunter or Yakuza franchises, that doesnt mean Japanese fans wont come out in droves to play those games, along with dozens of other titles.
What might happen? Nintendo always skips TGS, so dont expect anything there. However, Sony will likely be there in force, and theres a good chance Microsoft will repeat its 2013 TGS appearance this year. Japan gets the PS4 in February, but the Xbox One still has no release date in Japan, so MS will need to work hard to sell it to a population that didnt care much for the 360 or original Xbox. Meanwhile, for what feels like the sixth year in a row, well cross our fingers for an unlikely appearance by The Last Guardian. Lastly, Hideo Kojima is a big fan of TGS appearances, so youll likely see something new from Metal Gear Solid 5 as well, perhaps following up on an E3 reveal.
When and where? October 31-November 12 in Melbourne, Australia
Whats it like? The Penny Arcade Expo began in 2004 as a small fan-focused convention in Seattle, and the then-inclusive feel of the show saw it quickly grow into two of the biggest conventions for gamers in the US. After spreading to Boston to give East Coast gamers some love, PAX went Down Under, with its second annual show taking over Melbourne again in 2014.
What might happen? Last year's expo probably boosted camaraderie among Australian gamers, but the inaugural show didnt have much in the way of news. Perhaps the lack of reveals had to do with the remote location, it being an untested event, or PAX AUs closeness to San Diego Comic-Con. But now that the convention is later in the year and occupies a bigger venue, its possible that game developers and publishers will show the island nation a little more love in 2014.
What about MineCon, QuakeCon and BlizzCon?
Our list is intentionally missing write-ups on three of the biggest dedicated gaming conventions in the country. But thats only because there are no concrete details for MineCon, QuakeCon, or BlizzCon in 2014, though some seem more likely to happen than others. MineCon is basically a sure thing, but the location is in question. Last year it was in Orlando, FL; before that, it was in Disneyland Paris. Who knows which hemisphere will host Minecraft diehards next?
BlizzCon took a year off in 2012, then returned strong in 2013 with tickets selling out fast. We doubt Blizzard will another hiatus, but the developer has yet to name a date. QuakeCon seems even less likely because developer id changed so much in 2013. Company veteran John Carmack has exited id, and its hard to imagine QuakeCon without a lengthy keynote speech by the bespectacled developer. Then again, ids corporate master ZeniMax could potentially keep the show going for another year.
Where are you headed?
Plan on going to any of these? Or at least staying up to date with all the news? Let us know what youre looking forward to in the comments!