Gamescom & PAX Recap

The last month has been quite the ride! With the Early Access launch of Towers of Thana, we wanted to get out there and decided to go hands on with the crowds at both Gamescom and PAX West. Here’s the recap!


Recognized as one of (if not THE) biggest video game show in the world, it is always a treat to visit Cologne. Because it is so big, getting there from Quebec is not easy. The price to fly there is so high during this time that instead of getting 3 tickets to Germany, we instead opted to land in Brussels and get the train from there. It took longer, we even needed an extra night in Belgium in case our train broke on the way (don’t ask me how and I know…) but in the end, we saved over 1000$ doing it this way. Plus let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to visit this beautiful place?

Once in Cologne, we had 1 day to setup. Despite our best preparation, we ended up needing to run around Cologne to figure out our voltage situation. Pro tip: you may or may not be able to use an American power bar without voltage conversion in Europe. It’s a gamble. Sometimes the breaker pops, sometimes it doesn’t. Just get an European power bar and avoid losing half a day to figure it out. In the end, it all worked out.

The show features both a B2B (business to business) and a B2C (business to consumers) area. In our experience, the B2B is always worth it. It is also a lot more laid back and has a more relaxed schedule.

The B2C area on the other hand can be rough for smaller studios like us. Our booth is quite nice at PAX with all the other small booths like us all around, but at Gamescom everything is at a different scale. Booths are SO BIG! The organization is also not exactly sure what to do with smaller studios or where to place us. We ended up in a not terrible, but not desirable location either, mixed in with the hardware vendors and a couple other games. Here are a couple random booths at PAX. It’s hard to compete and, as you can see, there tends to have a lot of space between booths (which is absolutely needed in many areas for crowd traffic!). Note that some pictures were taken before the showfloor opened.

The show is also a lot more “family-centric” than the more “gamer-centric” PAX, if you see what I mean. Everyone loves video games at both shows! But you’ll see a lot more players handling “wasd” with both hands at Gamescom than at PAX. In a sense, Gamescom is probably a better representation of the general population. Also, it’s worth noting that the showfloor is open from 10am to 8 pm and lasts 5 days, which once coupled with all the traveling makes for a very long work week.

And of course, if you’re ever in Cologne, you absolutely have to go take a picture of the Cathedral. Here’s JS hard at work to take the best picture.

Overall, we’ll probably go in the B2C again in the future. The interactions with the crowd are so worth it! But we might stick to the Indie Area for next time. It’s a bit cheaper, we get a somewhat better location, we get help from the organization for the booth setup, plus it adds a bit of credibility. And as always, the B2B area is a no brainer.

PAX West

On our way back from Germany, our last flight to Quebec ended up delayed. That was a bummer because we had only 16 hours to do laundry and be back on a plane on our way to Seattle with the original schedule. We ended up having about 12 hours. In the end, we’re just happy we made it as a longer delay would have been really bad, making it near impossible for us to setup on time.

After an exceedingly demanding Gamescom, PAX West proved to be also challenging in its own way but, overall, a lot easier to manage. Being “only” 4 days instead 5, plus having a 10am to 6pm proved to be a substantial improvement to our sanity. We also had a much closer accommodation, so we only had to walk about 10 minutes both ways instead of 30min in Cologne. Believe me, it makes a big difference after standing all day.

PAX West had a tiny bit of drama happening among exhibitors regarding the presence of the Nintendo event which was at the same time in the same convention center. For the unfamiliar, the Seattle Convention Center is actually a collection of multiple buildings, so both events were actually separated. I’d say that it could have been a great synergy to have both events at the same time! But in practice, we ended with PAX split into 2 vastly different buildings and you had to walk about 5 minutes in the streets to reach the other location. I think it really hurt the overall feel of the event in a way that is hard to describe. I hope that in the future, they won’t separate the buildings as much and allow to flow easily from one area to the next. And maybe the Nintendo event and PAX can collaborate so that the crowds can access both at once? That’d be GREAT!

With that said, PAX was a blast, as always. I think both the crowds and the exhibitors appreciate the more “collective” feel we get with a bunch of closely packed booths. It’s something I’d like to see Gamescom take inspiration of for the day they decide to do an “indie only hall”. One can dream right?

Final Thoughts

All this traveling took a lot of time to plan and attend. Then at nobody’s surprise, traveling and attending tradeshows for 18 days straight was rough on the team, so we needed a bit of a vacation to recover. I hope you can excuse the longer than usual timeline for the next update!

Thanks to these events, we collected a ton of feedback from all of you and we are putting together a plan to improve the game. Stay tuned!