Ready or not, here PAX West comes! No, not in an online format like PAX East this year but physically, in person, in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center. We know, we were surprised too.
PAX West to Return In Person This September
In the official press release that went out yesterday, the dates for in-person PAX West were revealed to be September 3 through September 6. The event will take place in person at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
For those that may be concerned about attending due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, detailed health and safety information will reportedly be sent out, “In the leadup to PAX West 2021”.
We assume that included in this health and safety info will be updates to convention rules like mandatory mask wearing. It’ll also be interesting to see whether proof of vaccination will be required, or if there have been improvements made to the ventilation system inside the Washington State Convention Center.
For those interested in attending one of the first in-person conventions in over a year, badges will go on sale within the next two weeks. Four-day badges will be available for $230 (USD) while individual day badges for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday will be available at $60 (USD) each.
“It’s been almost two years since the last PAX West, and it’s been surreal to imagine its triumphant return,” stated Jerry Holkins, co-founder of Penny Arcade and PAX, in the official press release. “I can’t think of a better excuse to leave the house than PAX West.”
If you love esports, the press release mentions how PAX Arena has partnered with Metro Esports for a Valorant tournament.
The tournament will boast a $10,000 (USD) prize pool, with the quarter and semifinals taking place July 15 while the finals will happen on July 17. Obviously those events won’t be related to PAX West, but the press release goes on to explain how Metro Esports:
“Will scout participants to create America’s first multicultural, mixed-gender pro Valorant team called The Metro Squad, and select players to compete in-person at the PAX Arena at PAX West.”
If you’ve been hungry for some in-person esports it sounds like there will be an opportunity to compete at PAX West, or at the very least watch people compete. Also noted in the press release is that PAX Arena will host other competitions for games like Rocket League, iRacing, and more. It won’t be just Valorant.
And of course, PAX West wouldn’t be PAX West without games, panels, stuff to buy, etc. As of right now, we’re not sure which companies will be in attendance and what the situation will be regarding panels at PAX West. As soon as more information for this year’s in-person PAX West is released, we’ll be sure to share that with you here at Prima Games.
Adding a little personal opinion to this piece for a moment, the idea of an in-person PAX West is interesting, and many feel like it’s still too soon and too risky to host a large event.
That said, the vaccination rollout has been in effect for several months now, with the number of fully vaccinated Americans continuing to grow (albeit at a slower pace than one would like to see). There are also points of reference for us to look at now that can help determine how high the risk is as the country experiments with opening things back up again.
Source: NY Daily News
For example, a number of large events like concerts have already been hosted with more scheduled to take place ahead of PAX West in July and August. Pointing to one of these events, a full capacity Foo Fighters concert happened just recently at Madison Square Garden back on June 20.
The concert required all attendees to be vaccinated, but based on the photos of the event, it looks like masks were not enforced and people were crammed in together pretty tight. Which makes sense given it was full capacity.
Additionally, recent reports from Washington note that even when the state opens back up after hitting their 70% vaccination goal, "Indoor venues with more than 10,000 people will still be limited to 75% capacity," so PAX West shouldn't feel as packed as previous years.
And if large events like the Foo Fighters concert continue to happen in July and August with no adverse effects and everything looks fine with case numbers continuing to decline, it’ll be easier to justify attending something like PAX West this year, especially if these events require attendees to provide proof of vaccination and enforce mandatory mask wearing.
Right now though, the news of PAX West returning is still surprising, and a lot of people are taking the time to process everything, as are we. While we wait to hear more about the health and safety measures at PAX West, what are your thoughts on PAX West returning as a physical, in-person event this year?