The Penny Arcade Expo, known affectionately throughout the gaming community as PAX, is extending its series of conventions to include a tabletop-only event dubbed PAX Unplugged. As revealed during PAX South 2017, the first PAX Unplugged event is scheduled to take place November 17 through 19 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
Badges for the first PAX Unplugged are expected to go on sale this spring.
PAX has a great Tabletop department and library of games. What's your favorite board game to play at PAX? pic.twitter.com/n6ox8boZne
— PAX (@Official_PAX) April 24, 2016
PAX Unplugged is the sixth convention in Penny Arcade’s roster of international events, which include PAX Australia, PAX South in Texas, PAX East in Boston, PAX West in Seattle, and the game developer conference PAX Dev. The PAX series of gaming conferences have traditionally been inclusive of tabletop gaming, featuring dedicated areas for board games, card games, and other forms of tabletop game experiences.
Jerry Holkins, co-founder of Penny Arcade, describes his vision for PAX Unplugged as follows in a statement to the press, addressing potential fears that tabletop gaming might potentially be getting pushed out of the video game-centric PAX events.
“With the rise of popularity of board games, we wanted to provide a dedicated space where fans can come together. We will continue to have tabletop games at every PAX, but Unplugged will focus on stepping away from the TV, monitor and phone to foster face-to-face multiplayer experiences.”
Penny Arcade is putting this new event together in collaboration with ReedPOP, a fan-based professional group that has also worked on New York Comic Con (NYCC), Star Wars Celebration, TwichCon, and Emerald City Comicon (ECCC).
— ReedPOP (@Reed_POP) December 20, 2016
The details of the event are said to include more than just a chance to try out new tabletop games. Tournament play, industry panels, and even music concerts are planned to be on the event schedule.
“PAX Unplugged will take all the elements that have drawn millions of gamers to PAX – the chance to play and see the reveal of highly-anticipated upcoming games, attend game-inspired music concerts, participate in tournaments and watch panels with industry leaders – but with a renewed focus on fostering the best event for the burgeoning tabletop gaming community.”
“PAX Unplugged will be a destination for attendees to share their common passions and socialize over board, card and other tabletop games, which have experienced a renaissance in recent years. Penny Arcade and ReedPOP are happy to embrace the thriving tabletop scene and provide those around it with a welcoming atmosphere to take this resurgence to even greater heights.”
The tabletop gaming industry has been rising in sales for the past several years around the globe. In the U.K., market research group NPD via the Guardian cites a 20 percent increase in tabletop game sales in the U.K market, which includes dice games and mini-figure games like Dungeons & Dragons. NPD’s research on the subject is said to include about 70 percent of the toy trade in the U.K.
According to consulting firm ICv2, via an Economist report in 2015, the tabletop gaming industry was measured as raking in around $88 million per year in just America and Canada (based on estimates from 2014). ICv2’s Milton Griepp was quoted in the report as stating that hobby games had “seen double-digit annual growth for the past half-decade.”
Later in 2016, hobby games had been measured as a more than $1 billion industry (based on estimates from 2015), with card games and dice games experiencing the “fastest growth rate” through a 75 percent increase from $60 million to $105 million in sales in just one year. Non-collectible miniature games and role-playing games reportedly grew by 40 percent, from $125 million to $175 million and $25 million to $35 million, respectively. Board games also improved in sales by 56 percent, growing from an estimated $160 million in 2014 to $250 million in 2015.
Do you think a tabletop convention is a step in the right direction for PAX? Sound off in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Penny Arcade]