The 10th year of ESGS has come upon us. Bringing with it some big changes in an attempt to answer the challenges that many conventions have faced this year. Be it overcrowding, new prices for rental, or the need for greater floor space. The question of the hour would be if it’s good enough. The post-event buzz seems to indicate ‘no,’ but let’s have a more nuanced look at what happened and attempt to give a much fairer swing at this.
First of all, there’s the big venue change. World Trade Center, which is about 5 kilometers away from the traditional SMX venue. While some issues are indeed answered like the need for wider floor space, and a venue that may seem cheaper for the organizer to afford. Which sort of asks the question: “How did we end up with a higher ticket price, then?” A question that unfortunately I think only the organizers can conclusively answer.
One immediate negative point I have about the venue, though, is the parking situation. With only the open space around it available, with very little development to speak of over the many years it’s been around. I wish it could have at least done something about the muddier spaces in the back. Which I had to deal with. This also discourages a lot of people from going there by car. And this doubles the problem of it being a bit difficult to commute to, as well. They did put together measures to alleviate this situation by providing buses that take guests to other areas that have much better commuting options, so there’s that.
Another unfortunate issue is the lack of anything else nearby. This is also the reason why public transportation isn’t very popular there, with the lack of destinations. Meaning if you go there, that’s where you’ll be. You don’t have options of eating elsewhere and having a hotel that’s a short walk away is not a thing.
However, the resulting floor plan was pretty okay. There was enough space for the attractions and its spectators to not only queue up for their turn but also have room to get around the lines if you had to go through. However, there would be reservations about the distribution of attractions, as some areas weren’t as easy or natural to visit since they’re either overshadowed by the larger attractions, or just kind of out of the way. The natural foot traffic was quite poor towards the merchant areas, as they had made their concerns heard on social media.
When it comes to what’s there, we do have a lot of attractions that people can try out and play for free on their own. The thing is, everybody’s sporting more or less the same games. Street Fighter, Farlight 84, Valorant, League of Legends. It’s a bit of the same story even for the merch booths, where every other booth is sporting stickers or whatever items that are related to Hoyoverse characters. You do get something different from certain booths, like Sega, Bandai Namco (which is Tekken 8), and Rumble Royale’s attractions. You can also get the old-school arcade and retro console gaming experience if you can head to Tito Steef’s area, which is always a treat since you will not find a lot of what they have to offer anywhere else. Then there’s the booth with all the indie game developers, where I had the most hands-on time. However, that’s partly because I was also a judge for their competition.
A notable thing they did would all be these gaming class talks that offered various panels on the local gaming industry. If you were interested in becoming media or being part of the gaming industry. I don’t think this kind of opportunity comes often, and if it does, you’d have to be part of some big university. So for those who just want to shake hands and ask questions with say, some people who work directly for Ubisoft, this was an event that should pique your interest. They also gave some stage time to not only individuals who do things like voice acting for PH but even new and upcoming companies and indies that are looking to meet a community they wish to be a part of.
At the end of the day, ESGS 2023 is probably a more somber note than a grand one. I held this event in high regard because of the many big names it can manage to bring to the crowd, and this year was a rather unenthusiastic cheer than a standing ovation for me. I suppose we all have our days where we could have done better. This seems to be a common theme for many events this year, despite there being a lot more on the calendar this year. A lot of them just don’t seem to leave much of an impression, if not a bad one.
This event certainly avoided the horror story of leaving people out in the heat and lining up forever. But I don’t think it created moments for everyone to remember. It certainly could have done better, and it may have been able to do that if it tried to keep the ticket price a little lower. Unfortunately, the event didn’t end on a positive note. People testifying that they felt cheated in either trying to sell off some merchandise or trying to buy mystery boxes. This is something that needs to be examined, and if need be, corrected shortly. Certainly, nobody should be getting baby socks as a prize item in a mystery box that’s supposed to have gaming-themed items.