Since 2019, PAX Australia hasn’t made an appearance due to the ongoing pandemic. There is no way to host an event like this without having a crowd. So this was the last one where there were attendees.
It was also the first one where EB Games decided to form a partnership with this convention instead of EB Games running its own show, the EB Games Expo, at Sydney Olympic Park. Too bad for the Sydneysiders since EB Games moved down to Melbourne so there is no equivalent in Sydney going forward.
This PAX was big as usual and full of big, interesting titles like Final Fantasy VII Remake, Pokemon Sword and Shield and Marvel’s Avengers. Plus heaps of other video games, tabletops, card games and role-playing games. There is always something to do and for me, it’s just a matter of playing all the cool demos, buying some of the sale hardware and accessories and collecting all them freebies.
The event is usually hosted over the course of three days, starting on a Friday evening and then ending on Sunday at 5:00 pm. PAX Australia is only hosted in Melbourne and each year at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre across from Crown Casino. The Melbourne Exhibition Centre is easy to reach by tram, but it sits one stop outside the city’s free tram zone area. (So just get off the stop before Crown and you should be fine, it is only an additional 3 minute walk.)
Each year PAX takes up several halls within the center and occupies both the Exhibition Centre and the Convention Centre. The Exhibition Centre is where you line up to play various games, buy merchandise and see all the cool things on display, while the Convention Centre is where you can sit back and watch guest speakers talk about all sorts of game related topics. You can also hang around the hall to buy merchandise and look at the things on display. (Honestly, the Expo Hall is where you need to go.)
The EB store was pretty big, but very disappointing. Some of the “specials” didn’t feel like specials at all. Kingdom Hearts III going for $35 was not the cheapest you could get the game. It was at points going for $25. Aside from the “specials”, most of the games were full EB-game prices.
PAX Australia 2019 was my fifth time at PAX. I didn’t rock up early. I decided to come around an hour after the doors had opened. By then, the crowds had dispersed into the main hall. In the queuing area you show your pass and can grab a huge fabric carry bag (to collect all the freebies). Once you get into the main hall, it is full of glitzy lights and gaming sounds.
This year, I wanted to play Final Fantasy VII Remake and Final Fantasy XIV. The Final Fantasy VII Remake took ages to finally play, but it gave players about 20 minutes where we got to play up to The Scorpion Sentinel. It was a great introduction to the game and really got me hyped for the game’s eventual release. The Final Fantasy XIV booth gave players a chance fight Eden from the Shadowbringers expansion. If successful, players won a T-shirt and some other goodies.
I noticed that virtual reality and AR made a much smaller appearance this time. While there were some incredible titles on the game floor and certain games like Beat Saber dominating people’s interest, it really took a backseat this year.
All the main publishers had booths in the main hall, from Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Square Enix, etc. All the highly anticipated games at the time were being showcased and there were long lines for some of the games. The Nintendo Switch area was full of Nintendo Switches on tables with various playable games, some old and new.
If you weren’t keen on trying any of the video games, you could be enticed by the voluminous amount of gaming merchandise, hardware and accessories, from branded Razer, Logitech or Steel Series gaming accessories to actual board games like Catan, Ticket to Ride and Monopoly.
You can even play various card game with people who are happy to teach you how to play. We played games the Dragon Ball Collectable Card Game and Final Fantasy TCG. (Like most years, we were mainly there to get the prizes and participation promo cards. I bought a few Dragon Ball booster packs and accessories to get a really cool looking Broly promo card.)
At the back of the Expo Hall, you could also try some of the retro games by grabbing a console to play some games with friends. There is just plenty to do and not enough time. I didn’t bother with this section, since I was keen to try as many new things as possible.
Like I said earlier, there are plenty of freebies if you go around the booth and plenty of places to take photos with various props. There are heaps of people willing to help. (It also helps that you are given a huge fabric carry bag when you enter the Expo Hall to carry all your goods around.) Some of the booths required you to do some things before you could win a prize, e.g. spin a wheel or demo their game. I managed to collect a nice haul of things from face masks, balloons, USB sticks and mousepads.
The event was from Friday, 11 October 2019 to Sunday, 13 October 2019. Tickets were $65 per person for a day pass and $170 for a three day pass. When you purchase you purchase online, a few weeks before the event you should get your passes (or tokens) in the mail.
I hope we attend PAX again. Like PAX 2020, PAX Australia 2021 was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Melbourne Exhibition Centre is located here at 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf VIC 3006: