The History and Evolution of PAX East

In 2004, the authors of Penny Arcade thought about having a show that celebrated gaming and game culture exclusively since other hobbies like anime and comic already had their shows leaving the gaming nerds out of place. Consequently, Pax came to be on April 1, 2004, and on August 28 and 29, 2004, they held an event at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue after 1,337 people pre-registered for the exhibition. From then on, each year led to the doubling in size such that the numbers demanded a venue and expansion to other cities. Therefore, in 2010 the Penny Arcade authors decided to collaborate with Reed Exhibitions which handled the logistics, to have the event outside of Washington State. The partnership led to the introduction of Pax East.

How did the first Pax East come to be?

The first Pax East event was announced in August 2008, and Mike Krahulik announced on December 23, 2009, that the number of pre-registered attendees on the Pax East Coast had exceeded the number of any other previous Pax. The tickets for Pax East Coast were later announced in January 2010 that they were close to selling out meaning that no tickets would be available at the door. Consequently, Robert Khoo, the business head at Penny Arcade Expo updated his Twitter page on February 3, 2010, that 3-day badges for Pax East Coast had sold out.

The first Pax East event took place from March 26-28 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center. For the entire weekend, the attendance count was 52, 290 and complaints of overcrowding rose leading Penny Arcade to keep the event in Boston until 2013. The keynote speaker was Wil Wheaton while the musical guests included Anamanaguchi, The Protomen, Metroid Metal, and Jonathan Coulton.

Pax East 2011

In 2011, Pax East was held from March 11 to 13 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center which gave the attendees adequate room; compared to the Hynes square foot area of 193,000; the Boston Convention center has a total area of 516,000 square feet. The year’s keynote speaker was Jane McGonigal while the musical guests were mostly from those who played in the previous year such as The Protomen, Jonathan Coulton, Metroid Metal, Video Game Orchestra MC Frontalot and the only new addition was Paul and Storm.

Pax East 2012

The event occurred from April 6-8 still at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and except for the single-day passes that did not sell out mostly because it was an Easter weekend, all the other passes sold out. The exhibition had over 160 booths in which different companies occupied, among them being game design firms like Riot Games and Electronic Arts while Microsoft’s Xbox and Dell’s Alienware were among the hardware companies.

The attendees enjoyed playing some of their favorite games like Rock Band Blitz, Dance Central 2, Tony Hawk Ride and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. In the PC Freeplay area, the attendees could also play Minecraft, League of Legends and Battlefield 3. There was a tabletop gaming area and handheld tournaments for games like Tetris DS. During the day, most of the panels occurred while concerts were preserved for the evenings where the previous years’ guests graced the event with the introduction of Minibosses and Supercommuter.

Pax East 2013

The exhibition took place from March 22-24; passes began selling on October 8, 2012, and by the next day, all three-day passes were sold out. The rest of the passes were completely sold out by 28 February 2012. Blizzard Entertainment announced a new game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. For the first time, the console version of Diablo III became playable, and other indie developers showcased their games. The agreement to have BCEC house the event was extended until 2023 in early 2012. Musical performances were by the previous performers except for Sam Hart and those Who Fight.

Pax East 2014

The event took place from April 11-13 and passes were on sale from October 23, 2013; the three-day passes were sold out in less than an hour while the rest of the passes were sold out by November 7, 2013. Musical performances were by Bit Brigade, The Doubleclicks and other previous performers.

Pax East 2015

The exhibition occurred from March 6-8, 2015 and featured content for Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone.

Pax East 2016 to Pax East 2018

The 2016 event took place between April 22-24, 2016; in 2017, it occurred from March 10-12, 2017 while in 2018, for the first time, it was held for four days; April 5-8, 2018


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