The second annual EB Expo came and went over the weekend just past and it most definitely lived up to EB Games’ hype about being bigger and better than the inaugural show last year. With attendance counting in the thousands higher than last year and the duration increased to three days instead of just two it was definitely a lot busier, and the atmosphere from the punters had the venue buzzing with excitement throughout the entire event.
Having moved from the Gold Coast to the bigger site of Sydney Showgrounds, EB were able to provide not only more of everything but also a much better layout of the booths for the free flow of crowds around the show floor. A large fenced-in outdoor area with a number of food and drink vendors as well as a bar was also a welcome change as it did away with an annoying issue last year where if you wanted to get any food you had to line up to get into the show floor all over again. With just one main entrance and a separate exit to the entire event it meant that people weren’t delayed unnecessarily while experiencing the expo.
EB Live was back again including the Motorcross tricks during the Grand Opening show and a multitude of presentations by all the various publishers about their different offerings this year. Ed Boon the creator of Mortal Kombat did a presentation about his new title Injustice: Gods Among Us, and there was also presentations by developers of Assassin’s Creed 3, and Medal of Honor: Warfighter during the weekend as well.
The show floor itself was suitably impressive from the moment you walk in the main doors to see the huge Nintendo booth filled with playable Wii U titles, to the towering Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 “superbooth”, and all the rest. The PlayStation booth had over 20 Vitas with playable titles available for the people to get their hands on which was great to see, as well as plenty of PSN and PS3 games on display as well including their upcoming brawler PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale.
There was of course a large range of playable games from other publishers on display as well and it was great to see what the gamers were most interested in. I’ll be here all day if I list all the different games that were playable but I’ll just mention the stand out games that I saw. Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution at the Bandai Namco Partners booth were both quite popular, while nearby Dance Central 3 and of course Halo 4 were drawing big crowds over to the Microsoft booth as well as a number of Xbox Live Arcade titles. EA didn’t disappoint the punters this year with their selection either with Medal of Honor: Warfighter both single and multiplayer playable as well as Crysis 3, Need For Speed: Most Wanted and more.
Even games that are already available in stores were drawing large crowds such as FIFA 13 and 2K Games’ Borderlands 2 so it was great to see people so passionate about those games. WB Games had sixteen pods set up to play Injustice: Gods Among Us which were consistently busy throughout the weekend, and of course the always popular LEGO games including LEGO Lord Of The Rings. The most popular booth by far this year I think was the Ubisoft booth, with massive crowds hanging around their Just Dance 4 stage as well as queues for the Assassin’s Creed 3 and ZombiU demos which had up to 2 hour waits to play. There was definitely a great selection all around for any type of gamer and it was great to see people of all ages getting involved.
It wasn’t all about the games though, with a much larger focus this year on the community. The Community Hub was set up this year filled with Lovesac’s for people to relax on, pool tables, pinball and other arcade machines, and opportunities for gamers to get green screen photos taken to be superimposed over different game related backgrounds. One of the coolest new features this year was the panels and signings in the Community Hub, including a great “Ladies In Gaming” panel run by Geek Bomb featuring key female members of the games industry in Australia answering questions and having discussions about being a female in the gaming industry. It went really well and if you want to check it out you will be able to view it on the Geek Bomb YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/GeekBombshells.
Probably one of my favourite sections of the EB Expo this year though would have to be Home Grown Gaming. I am personally really happy to see EB Games give such a large amount of space to some of the Aussie Indie devs who otherwise wouldn’t have many good opportunities to show people their games. From iPhone games like Giant Robot Destroy Everything to PC games like the 16-bit sprite platformer Grapple Knight there was a great selection of stuff represented there which is great for the Australian development community. Also inside the Home Grown Gaming section was a whole heap of e-sports competitions running which are always great to see as well.
All in all I think the EBX for 2012 was a great success and I’d have to say that EB Games and all the publishers would think so too given the lines to pre-order games at the EB Games store over the weekend. It all ran a lot more smoothly than last year which was great to see and I’m looking forward to next year’s show to see what they can do with it next.