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Afterword: ESGS 2016

Our critique regarding the Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit 2016.

Last weekend finally witnessed one of the year’s most awaited video game spectacles in the Philippines, which has now turned into South East Asia’s biggest gaming convention, the Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit. Now entering its 3rd year, ESGS 2016 manages to raise the bar once again for video game conventions, as more big names and personalities in the video game industry joined in and became one of the highlights of the 3-day event.

A brief history

The Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit, otherwise known as ESGS, is first held back in 2014 and found its home in the SMX Convention Center. Organized by Gariath Concepts, ESGS serves as the “spiritual successor” to the Pinoy Gaming Festival, which had the final run of its official major iteration back in 2013 with only its little brother, the PGF Summer Assembly, still being held annually. What’s different between ESGS and PGF is how the former invites local names in gaming, namely independent and Philippine based video game creators and groups like the Manila Chapter of the International Game Developers Association, and the Game Developers Association of the Philippines, whereas the latter was originally more focused on Electronic Sports with various gaming competitions getting the lion’s share of the highlights.

What’s new this Year

Bigger and better will be a phrase to accurately describe the positives of the Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit 2016 as, together with major names Ubisoft and Sony PlayStation, Bandai Namco Entertainment and Capcom joins in this year as part of the major exhibitors with new IPs and upcoming titles such as Bandai Namco’s Little Nightmares, Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV, CAPCOM’s Resident Evil 7, SIE Japan Studios’ The Last Guardian and even Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night where showcased to the attendees, whether to the general public or to select personnel. Another thing to also take note of is the appearance of more merchandise retailers which wares range from wearables to collectibles, and as well as “relatively new” names in computer hardware and peripheral manufacture.

Attendees trying out Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare at the PlayStation booth.

Finding your way through the floor

One thing to praise about this year’s layout is the clear division between the different exhibitor or booth categories present at ESGS, one thing to critic about this year’s layout is the clear division between the different exhibitor or booth categories present at ESGS. Sound confusing? This year had a good separation between 2 of the major event divisions, taking cue from the name itself, Electronic Sports and Video Game showcases as nearly all of the related booths and exhibits occupy one side of the event, Esports on the right, video games on the left, with the other booths such as retailers and hardware manufacturers taking the central area. So what makes it both good and bad? As it is still relatively young, ESGS is still mainly known for its Electronic Sports side and a huge part of the crowd is drawn more towards the competitions and tournaments being held within the event, and while booths such as Ubisoft, PlayStation, and Bandai Namco are easily noticed, not only for being highly popular but also with their preferred floor locations in the video game showcase department, the crowd is easily concentrated on select areas within the event, leaving the other sections to go unnoticed by a significant number of people such as the Indie games area.

The major indie games section, Indie Arena, served as the main hub of independently developed video game titles at ESGS

Still, as what is stated by one indie dev that has been part of ESGS multiple times during the event itself, more people seem to have visited and tried out the featured titles in the Indie section this year when compared to last year which may indicate a growing interest in locally made titles. Although it feels lesser than what it’s supposed to be, it would still boil down to how the exhibitors themselves promote their convention appearance to also invite their own crowd to flock to their areas, which in turn will provoke the interest of other attendees to check out whatever is going on.

Getting Educational

One thing that’s also new in this year that was never present in its initial runs is the inclusion of seminars and workshops, hosted by different development groups and studios which are focused on areas such as design and animation. This new feature further adds to the diversity of categories and activities at ESGS as it also slowly introduces interested attendees to the industry side of gaming by showing actual field work examples, which can also be applied to other fields. Some of these seminars did require a separate expense other than the general event ticket which makes it feel like a separate event of its own despite being integrated with the convention, perhaps if we’re gonna have these features next year we’ll also have additional ticket bundles that let us in both the convention and the seminar halls?

Getting to know itself

Now running for its 3rd year, one may notice how ESGS is still trying to find out its true identity among gaming events for, as what we have mentioned earlier, it is viewed by some as a “successor” to the Pinoy Gaming Festival, which means that there is still a lot of PGF feel and elements present in it, and by “a lot” we mean “A LOT”.

But first, what do we mean when we coin the term identity regarding conventions? Pointing out a few examples, events such as the Manila Major and ESL One Manila are purely on Esports, the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 is catered towards investors with all the previews and announcements, and the Tokyo Game Show, which we like to believe where ESGS is inspired from, largely focuses on interaction with the demos and gameplay tests being made available to attendees not just on the event grounds but also on the event stage.

Going back to ESGS, Electronic Sports and variety still takes much of the central stage time, although we did witness gameplay previews and trailers from major brands such as Sony PlayStation and Bandai Namco Entertainment with the demos being made on the event grounds.Still we are looking forward to a more refined balance between competitive matches and video game showcases in the coming installments of ESGS with the gradual change already happening and to hopefully continue.

Overall Experience: More fun for everyone

Overall, the Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit still presents a great experience for all attendees, with a lot to offer to people of different video game related interests, on whether you’re there because of the consoles, the hardware showcases, the tournaments or if you want to learn a thing or two about the industry. Just like last year, ESGS ends this year on a high note and even managed to raise the bar as far as similar events are concerned here in Philippines and possibly in South East Asia.

 

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