The true impact of this year’s GameStop Expo, held August 29 in San Antonio, Texas, was felt several hours after the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center closed its doors at 4:00PM. Following dinner, we found ourselves wandering around one of the company’s stores, where a handful of excited attendees expressed their enthusiasm not just for the show itself, but also the numerous games on display, a list that included Halo 4, God of War: Ascension, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Aliens: Colonial Marines.  As journalists, it’s easy to get caught up in the public relations side of things, but hearing such a positive response from consumers helped us realize how passionate these people are.

That said, the expo appeared to be a rousing success.  We’ve yet to see exact numbers, but an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 attendees from around the U.S. were able to get their hands on the hottest games for this holiday season and beyond, thanks to GameStop’s decision to allow customers to attend its annual showcase for the first time; store managers were able to go hands-on August 28.

On that note, the show had a little bit of everything.  Nintendo arrived in full force with its upcoming console, the Wii U, and with it, several high-profile games.  Among them, Pikmin 3, Nintendoland, New Super Mario Bros. U, and ZombiU.  Then there was Microsoft’s star-studded lineup that consisted of Halo 4’s multiplayer and Gears of War: Judgment’s new Free-For-All mode.  Not to be outdone, Sony delivered God of War: Ascension and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal, among others.

That, of course, was a small slice of the games available.  Capcom brought Resident Evil 6 and the revamped Devil May Cry.  Sega unleashed Aliens: Colonial Marines, Majesco worked up a sweat with NBA Baller Beats, Namco Bandai threw down with Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and 2K Games delighted show goers with NBA 2K13.  We also can’t forget about Ubisoft and Assassin’s Creed 3, a game that continues to impress with each passing month.

Meanwhile, attendees had no shortage of giveaways.  Atlus captivates hundreds with its ongoing contests, where it gave away a steady stream of video games.  Microsoft even let fans have their pictures taken (free of charge) with someone dressed in full Master Chief armor. And if sports gamers felt especially lucky, Prima gave them a chance to beat two Madden NFL experts, though from what we heard, no one came close to outscoring the pros on the virtual gridiron.  

The biggest disappointment was the fact that the expo was one day only, with hours from 11:00AM to 4:00PM, not enough time to see and play everything, but that’s a minor complaint. GameStop took a big step forward in satisfying its customers, and if this is any indication, future expos will only grow larger in the years ahead.  For now, we have a small group of excited gamers reflecting on their most memorable moments of the day.  So long as GameStop can build off that, and there’s no reason to think it can’t, this show will continue to entertain customers for years to come.