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2018 is set to be a big year in the video game world — there are a myriad exciting upcoming titles on the horizon tantalising our imaginations.
For the gaming journos however, every year brings the excitement of the gaming expos and media events – where all the big announcements are made and we evaluate the impact they’re likely to have on the gaming industry.
Sure it’s no SONA… But events like these find journalists hanging on the every word of Microsoft and Sony execs in the same manner South Africans were glued to their TV screens as CR gave his “Send me” State of the Nation speech.
You totally think I’m overstating this right now. But if you do then you’re obviously not a gamer – you should go somewhere else right about now.
So what does the calendar lineup for 2018 look like? I’m skipping out on the couple that have already happened this early in the year, namely PAX South in Texas. There are plenty of PAX events throughout the year, and South is only in its fourth year, so while there were some cool indie announcements, there generally isn’t anything the mainstream gaming populace is going to fall over themselves about.
Game Developers Conference (GDC): 19-23 March, San Francisco
This is not a mainstream gaming festival by any means, but anyone who is serious about academics and gaming (of which there are a number of locals working in this space), will be trying to raise the funds to attend this conference.
You also on occasion find some significant titles announced at this event, such as the 2017 announcement of Shadow of War. The bulk of the announcements will almost certainly be indie titles however, but if you’re into indies, GDC is definitely one to watch.
I’m going to cover the two major PAX events in one here, beginning with East (5 to 8 April, Boston) PAX West (September, Seattle). There are a number of others, including a PAX event in Melbourne, Australia, but all of them revolve around gaming culture, including tabletop, arcade and video gaming.
The opening keynote is generally by an industry insider, and you’ll find exhibitors ranging from independents to major game studios and publishers.
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3): 12-14 June, Los Angeles
Probably the most well known of all the gaming shows, this was until recently an industry only trade event, consisting of media, publishers, developers and so on, and was not open to the public. In recent years however, limited tickets (at what I think are exorbitant prices!) are available to purchase for members of the public.
The convention takes place officially over three days (but there are a number of events prior to the official opening of the show), at the Los Angeles Convention Centre.
Traditionally many of the big announcements for the year come out of E3, which in 2017 included Spider-Man and Days Gone, which are just two of the titles I have my eye on this year.
San Diego Comic Con: 19-22 July, San Diego
Known mainly for its comic and geek offering rather than video games, San Diego Comic Con does however cross over a bit into the gaming space, particularly when it comes to Marvel franchises. Companies like Square Enix also have a presence there and from time to time big announcements will be made.
Gamescom: 21-25 August, Cologne
Gamescom is probably one of the largest trade shows in the world, bringing in approximately 350 000 people in 2017. All the big publishers and developers inevitably have a showing there, and while there are some big announcements, Gamescom is more about new looks at already announced games, often coupled with release dates.
Quakecon: August, Dallas
Quakecon is where you find the Bethesda Softworks fan contingent with new looks at titles like Wolfenstein and The Evil Within 2 in 2017. There is also an esports component with the Quake World Championship.
Tokyo Game Show: 22-23 September, Tokyo
For Japanese games and their fans, Tokyo Game Show is still a calendar highlight, although with the rise of the Western game genre, it has slowly lost some of its relevance. As is to be expected, Japanese publishers are the ones who make the biggest showing and draw the largest benefit from this expo.
Blizzcon: November, Anaheim
As the name suggests, Blizzard is the star of the show here. Overwatch, StarCraft, Hearthstone – if it’s a Blizzard title, you’ll find it here. Like Quakecon, Blizzcon also has an esports element as almost all of Blizzard’s games are played competitively.
Paris Games Week: October, Paris
Sony splits its post-E3 announcements across two of these press conferences, the first taking place at the more low-key PGW, but we’ll combine them into one here.
They often hold off on Gamescom, preferring to generate some more excitement for their titles here with less competition. The second major post-E3 event for Sony is the PlayStation Experience (PSX). A US-based event, PSX is held in December, primarily for fans.
The Game Awards: December, Los Angeles
In the last four years The Game Awards has grown into a highly anticipated annual event in the gaming industry. It’s a televised event that in 2017 brought in over 11 million viewers in the U.S. and typically not only gives out awards, but also premieres trailers and reveals.
Local (South African)
ICON: 29 June-1 July, Johannesburg
ICON showcases a combination of comic books, cosplay, tabletop games and video games. ICON is modelled more after Comic Con, bringing high profile speakers and writers to market to present panels and network with conference goers. In recent years it has undergone a revamp and is growing steadily in quality and attendance.
Electronic & Gaming Expo (EGE): 27-29 July, Cape Town
EGE is a newcomer to the market, set to take advantage of the gaming market in Cape Town. While not at large or well attended as the likes of rAge as yet, it’s early years still and I’m sure the market appetite will push it to grow and evolve.
rAge, 5-7 October, Johannesburg
Now in its 16th year, the local rAge Expo is THE gaming event of the year for any South African interested in video games, tech and geek pop culture. People save up for months to take advantage of expo specials and travel from around the country to attend.
Every year it grows in size, attendance and quality and brings in approximately 40 000 attendees over the three days, making it an annual highlight for any gamer.
Featured image: EGE 2017/Hadlee Simons