February 27, 2021



The long road back to normal: Penny Arcade Expo announces event dates for 2021

A scene from PAX Unplugged 2018. (PAX Photo)

In a sign that nature is healing, the organizers of the annual Penny Arcade Expo gaming convention have announced attempt dates for three of next year’s shows.

PAX’s organizers at Seattle-based Penny Arcade and ReedPop intend to hold PAX East at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on June 3-6. This will be followed by PAX West 2021 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle on Sept. 3-6. Finally, PAX Unplugged, an all-tabletop event, is scheduled for Dec. 10-12 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

PAX South, typically held in San Antonio, has been canceled for 2021, but is planned to resume in 2022. More information about PAX Australia is expected to come out in the next few weeks; the PAX team has clarified via its website that it still intends to hold a PAX Australia show in 2021, but is currently working to nail down specifics.

The show dates are all offered on the assumption that by June of next year, the COVID-19 pandemic situation will have improved to some degree.

While we look forward to hosting shows in 2021, we are first and foremost members of the local communities in Boston, Philadelphia, and Seattle, where we call home, ”said Kyle Marsden-Kish, PAX Event Director, in a press release. “We care deeply for the health and safety of our amazing attendees and industry partners who have brought PAX to life for 17 years. We are cautiously optimistic about improvements in the global COVID-19 situation next year, but we are carefully monitoring the situation to make sure PAX only proceeds if deemed safe to do so. ”

While it looks like it’s just about business as usual for PAX West and Unplugged, PAX East being shifted forward three months to June is going to make for an interesting summer. The new dates put it directly in competition with the current plans for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3, the American games industry’s annual trade show. E3 2021 is currently scheduled for June 15-17 in Los Angeles.

While few if any people are likely to physically attend both shows, it does present participating game studios with a big choice about where and when to make their summer announcements next year. It also makes the bizarre competition that both shows have been in for years – E3 wants to be more like PAX, PAX has slowly become more like E3 – more overt than usual.

Penny Arcade and ReedPop intend to share more details about the planned shows, including exhibitor information, panel and event schedules, merchandise details, and ticket sale dates, early next year. This is expected to include more information about how the changes PAX made to accommodate this year’s extended “virtual con” will affect the show, going forward.

2021 is shaping up to be a make-or-break year for the global events industry, which has taken heavy losses over the course of a year of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. PAX organizer ReedPop, an arm within the UK-based firm Reed Exhibitions, is responsible for running many of the major social events on the geek circuit, including annual comic conventions in cities such as Chicago, London, Philadelphia, and Miami Beach.

Relatedly, ReedPop also announced in November that Seattle’s own comic book event, the Emerald City Comic Con, has been scheduled for Dec. 2-5 of 2021.