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Nearly 70,000 Attend PAX East 2011, Now America's Biggest Gaming Convention

Nearly 70,000 Attend PAX East 2011, Now America's Biggest Gaming Convention

March 14, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

March 14, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC

This weekend's second annual Penny Arcade Expo East conference attracted nearly 70,000 attendees, organizers say, a 32 percent increase from 2010's inaugural show, which was held at a smaller location.

The official headcount for PAX East 2011 was 69,500, up from the 52,290 who came to the first show, held at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in 2010. Complaints about crowding and attendee limits at that show led organizers to move to the larger and more remote Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for this year's show.

"The venue we have this year is massive - it's legitimately two to three times larger than last year's venue, so the amount of breathing room was fantastic," Penny Arcade business manager Robert Khoo told Big Download via e-mail. "I didn't hear a single complaint about overcrowding. I never thought I would see the day."

Attendance for the recent PAX East show was also larger than that for all seven PAX shows held in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle show has seen attendance rise steadily every year, from roughly 3,000 attendees in 2004 to an official tally of 67,600 for last September's conference.

The new attendance numbers make PAX East the largest American gaming convention open to the public. The ESA's annual E3 show attracted a high of over 70,000 industry professionals in 2005, though attendance for the 2010 show was down to an estimated 45,000 due to tighter attendance restrictions.

PAX East is still much smaller than the Tokyo Game Show, which saw over 200,000 attendees last year, and Germany's Gamescom, which counted over 250,000 attendees last August.

Blizzard's fan-focused BlizzCon event attracted an estimated 28,000 attendees last October. Last July's San Diego Comic-Con, which has included some game-related booths and announcements in recent years, reportedly drew over 130,000 attendees last year. This year's Consumer Electronics Show, which also features some displays from game companies, drew over 140,000 attendees this January.

This year's PAX East show featured a keynote address by games researcher and evangelist Jane Mcgonigal as well as demonstrations of highly anticipated games including L.A. Noire, Portal 2 and Child of Eden.

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