It was news that many people were expecting, but we finally found out this week that PAX Australia for 2020 was officially cancelled due to COVID-19 health restrictions.
Luke Lancaster is Content Manager at ReedPop Australia for PAX Australia and he said it was while he was at another PAX that it became clear that many conventions just couldn't go ahead this year.
"I was at PAX East myself in Boston and it was during that weekend that we heard the GDC was canceled due to concerns around the pandemic and from then I think there's been a level of uncertainty around everything for the rest of 2020 at least," said Lancaster.
"Ultimately, as I'm sure everyone is well aware now, we came to the final decision that regrettably we would not be able to do a physical event this year, it just wasn't a possibility for us."
In its place will be a brand new digital event called PAX Online, pitched at a global audience that combines content from PAX West in the US and EGX in the UK.
While Australia won't have it's own dedicated event this year, and it'll be shifted forward from the Melbourne International Games Week which is still going ahead in early October, Lancaster said that the online format will actually open up new opportunities for more voices.
"One thing that we can really explore that we've always kind of dabbled in but never been able to fully commit to is the idea of providing meetup places or activities or engagement opportunities for people with really niche interest or with interest in niche games."
"So as we move online, the the top end of the spectrum, all the triple A publishers and the announcements that's going to get way bigger because we have access to a global stage, the US and UK contributing and that's that's how that side of the business works, but on the other end of it when it comes to independent development when it comes to people who have smaller scale interests that we couldn't typically curate for."
The plan is to move all of what makes a PAX online, in a 24 hour nine day event starting in September, and even the extremely physical tabletop gaming section will be recreated digitally.
"It's an exciting prospect for us being able to connect and provide the opportunity to a local developers to take part on a global stage to connect with an audience far bigger than they would have been able to in any other year.
"Because the PAXAUS team is working on this because and it's a 24 hour show, we have a lot of creative control over it. We'll be able to represent support and promote Australian content like that, and it is our mandate in working on PAX Online."
PAX Online is on September 12-21 and submissions for content are open now.