PAX 10: Indie Games Showcase

By: Derek Yu

On: March 1st, 2008


Oh man, first a sweet World of Goo shout-out on their front page, now this.

Gabe and Tycho have announced that, in cooperation with the DigiPen Institute of Technology, this year’s Penny Arcade Expo will feature PAX 10, a showcase of 10 independent games selected by 50 industry experts (including the two main men themselves). The games will sit right on the expo floor, and attendees will be able to vote for one of the games to win an “Audience Choice Award,” to be announced on the website the next week.

You have until May 7th to submit your game here (it’s $50). PAX, in case you didn’t know, is an annual, 3-day orgy in Washington for video game lovers around the globe. This year it starts on August 29th.

TIGSource meet-up at PAX, anyone?

(Thanks, Alec!)

  • Edwin

    Why is it $50? That’s kinda like buying a copy of your own game, if it were actually on store shelves, in the hopes of winning some sorta raffle.

  • Sigvatr

    Berserker will be submitted to this, but I doubt it will get selected due to the game community’s ironic kosherness and cleanliness in the face of thousands of games where you can slaughter thousands of digital characters without mercy.

  • Edwin

    You’re willing to spend money to have your game rated? Doesn’t that make you sick inside?

  • Al King

    The IGF demands a fee to submit your game too; most competitions do – otherwise every man and his dog would submit something – the number of submissions would increase exponentially, and so the time and money that goes into finding the ‘top 10’ similarly increases – inverse to the amount of money that’s coming in. People are willing to pay for exposure, or the chance for exposure, and it serves to pay for the competition existing in the first place. And with E3 emasculated, PAX is really *the* major player-oriented game expo, so I’m sure plenty of people would be happy to be ‘featured’ there.

    So, yeah, barriers-to-entry suck, but they do serve a purpose.

  • Edwin

    I don’t think that the idea of barriers-to-entry or “exposure” makes it okay to charge a fee.

    By only choosing to showcase the best of the $$ contributers, PAX10 and other competitions like it are excluding a huge portion of the indie scene. By charging an entry fee, they ensure that only those devs that are willing to invest in exposure or a chance of exposure will appear in the line-up. This goes against the indie spirit imho.

  • deadeye

    Seattle is only a few hours from Portland. I might actually be there.

    Finally, something cool I could actually go to.

  • Al King

    I agree that ideally people shouldn’t be charged, and if the money they’re charging is just an opportunity to rake in the cash then I’d see it as ‘against the indie spirit’, sure. But I believe it probably does serve a purpose, in allowing the competition and expo to exist and be sustainable in the first place, hence ‘serving a purpose’. I think most devs who care about their game also care about its exposure and are willing to ‘invest’ in it, and in most cases $50 is a sizable but hardly crippling investment. It does kinda suck, though, that only 10 out of all of the entrants will be at all featured, and that does elevate the ‘raffle’-like nature of the comp – the IGF at least does entrants the courtesy of showing their names on the site.

  • Al King

    The unintentional repetition of ‘serving a purpose’ there kinda makes it sound patronising – not intended :-[

  • Edwin

    Al King: “…and it serves to pay for the competition existing in the first place.”

    Tickets are $50 at the door. Given the volume last year (37,000 as reported by Penny Arcade itself), surely it wouldn’t be difficult to pay a few 3rd party indie friendly/knowledgeable reviewers to judge a simple compo.

  • Al King

    In which case, if they’re just doing for the sake of making money, then yes, they’re just being bastards.

  • haowan

    heheh, $50 is nothing

  • Al King

    Edwin , from Gamasutra, “Rather than truly understanding the indie game movement, PAX and friends have chosen to go the lazy route by only scoring devs that are stupid/desperate/arrogant enough to cough up an entry fee, ignoring the efforts of all developers that really know what it means to be independent.”

    You’re doing a serious disservice to other independent devs by declaring them ‘stupid/desperate/arrogant’ just because they’re willing to pay $50 for entry. You also behave as if you alone understand ‘independence’; frankly you come across as a troll. If you don’t have the resources to enter the comp for $50 then I have sympathy for you, but that doesn’t give you a right to badmouth others.

  • I should settle on a name

    $50 is nothing, it’s only £25 which in itself is barely a Wii or DS game on the high street.

    But I’m not entering my game unless theres some big mofo grand prize. What do I get out of it that IGF didn’t already give me?

  • haowan

    More exposure.

  • Al King

    The GDC as a whole is developer-focused, as the name would imply. More actual coverage comes out of player-focused events like E3 and PAX than GDC, in my limited experience.

  • Edwin

    Al King. I admit, I was a bit heated when I posted the “stupid/desperate/arrogant” part. I apologize to all readers and devs for this. Very bad form on my part.

    However, I argue that by encouraging the “pay for exposure” behavior, that participants do a disservice to themselves.

  • GirlFlash

    $50/£25 might not be alot for some, but to me its a fuckload, I have barely half that to spend on food and living a week or I cant afford the rent.

    Look at it in other stuff, who the hell pays to get their paintings put in a gallery?

    I agree there should be some way to stop everybody submitting, but in most cases if you give examples of high standard stuff, if people dont think their games will match up, they wont submit.

    and if you must charge, $10 max is acceptable.

  • Edwin

    And if the indie scene allows one more group to monetize it, where does the respect go?

    CMP is already charging how much for IGF?

  • TeamQuiggan

    Then don’t frikkin’ pay, its that simple, if you are too indie to advertise, thats fine, but don’t play chicken little about it, other people wanting exposure won’t suddenly subvert your ability to create games.

    I respect everybody who is willing to be creative and put themselves up for public scrutiny, paying or not.

    Who the hell buys busker licenses?

    $50 to put your game in front of over 20k people is nothing.

    “Tickets are $50 at the door. Given the volume last year (37,000 as reported by Penny Arcade itself), surely it wouldn’t be difficult to pay a few 3rd party indie friendly/knowledgeable reviewers to judge a simple compo.”
    Have you been? Do you know where the money goes? $50 at the door is uber cheap too. Most major gaming conventions have entrance fees 5-10 TIMES that amount.

  • Alec

    Eh, if you don’t like it, don’t enter.

    $50 is nothing for an indie game company to invest in its own potential. Get 5 of your buddies to chip in $10 and you’re set.

    Each company/individual should decide whether its worth the risk vs. potential gain if they’re going to enter a competition. Generally, if you feel like you have something good and you know you’ll get a lot of publicity and/or contacts from an event that you wouldn’t otherwise, then anything under $200 seems pretty reasonable.

    If you’re doing freeware, then you can get a lot of exposure on the web and through reviews.

    Also, to imply that assigning a monetary value to games disrespects them doesn’t make any sense.

  • Edwin

    “Most major gaming conventions have entrance fees 5-10 TIMES that amount.”

    And that too is an atrocity. Are you in the industry? Have you had the pleasure of watching your douchebag boss who can’t tell virtua fighter from street fighter go to GDC at $2500 a head?

    It’s cheap for PAX because the guys that started it are still gamers at heart.

    But the PAX Indie Games Showcase reeks of delegation. It reeks of corporate ignorance. It feels disassociated from real life. It attempts to take a democratized platform and turn it into a marketed platform.

  • Alec

    *passes Edwin a beer*

    Come chill on the couch, man. Let’s play some Wii.

  • Derek

    “Tru Indy” strikes again.

    Seriously, if a $50 submission fee is an atrocity to you, you probably want to stay away from any conventions on principle. They only exist because of advertising/marketing/corporate interests.

    Like, this shouldn’t even make a blip on your radar – you should have ignored it as soon as you heard the word “PAX.”

  • jeb

    This is great! $50 is cheaper than IGF, and likely just as good exposure-wise. Also, a second chance for us who didn’t quite make it to the IGF =)

  • deadeye

    I found one site online that listed their projected cost to rent space at the Washington Convention Center was $130,000 – $141,000 for an expected 9000 attendees. I can only imagine what it would cost for enough space for 37,000 people.

    Fifty bucks ain’t shit for an entry fee.

  • Edwin

    YES! Chorizo and eggs good!

  • Adam Atomic

    indie game competition entrance fees exist only to reduce the number of games that people have to judge, they are nominal and have no impact on the show’s profitability.

  • IndieJoJo

    Normally, I could care less about PAX generally, but if there’s a TIGSource meetup I’d be all over it like Knytt Stories.

    I live in Seattle near downtown, and would be happy to make lodging recommendations and whatnot. Hell, someone could crash on my couch!

  • ithamore

    $50 is the cheapest entry fee I’ve seen for an expo or convention (game related or otherwise) besides the retro gaming Oklahoma Video Game Expo (

    As for the World or Goo, (as much as I’ve been looking forward to it) my experience with the preview demo has been questionable in terms of balance. It might be, however, that I’m merely missing something simple about the point I’m stuck at (Fisty’s Bog has made me wish I was playing a free demo instead of a beta of a game I decided to paid for based on the game play presented in a video).

  • aeiowu

    I don’t know why this is an issue for you Edwin. (Do you own a harp?) More press/contests and so on about the independent games movement can only help, as long as we keep making the games we love. The integrity is in the games we make, nothing more, nothing less. And since we spend loads of unpaid/barebones hours making those games, then why not another tiny hit to get them out and about in the public eye a bit more?

  • Sigvatr

    I spend $50 a week on hookers, I think I could probably spare that much money.

  • Lazer

    A cross country TIGsauce mantrain should be organized.

  • PHeMoX

    50$ … damn people, why are we even discussing this. Seriously! :p ^^ Sure, it’s not *free* , but good things aren’t free.

  • xvs07

    Wow, deadeye… I had no idea they were shelling that much capital. I’ve been to PAX twice and, barring the unforeseen, I’ll be going this year. I recommend it to anyone interested in gaming or gamers: great lectures and forums, an incredible variety of gaming, and a mellow, hanging-out-with-good-friends vibe. Even the security staff are friendly.

  • Zaphos

    *”Look at it in other stuff, who the hell pays to get their paintings put in a gallery?”*

    I don’t know about paintings, but it’s very common for film festivals to charge an entry fee for submissions.

  • Data

    I think it’s great that the very minimal fee is allegedly “excluding a huge portion of the indie scene”!

    It’s got to be the portion that is either not very serious at all, or have some insane notion that investing anything into marketing and exposure is an evil or ‘wrong’ thing to do.

    Not really interested in having anything to do with that portion, and am glad that they aren’t gumming up the works at these great opportunities to find an audience like IGF and PAX 10.

  • Adam Atomic

    data i love you

  • Al King

    Rightey, reprisals and recriminations aside –

    Indie games at PAX!


  • Farbs

    Wait, so now I have to try & make two festival grade games a year?


  • bateleur

    “Look at it in other stuff, who the hell pays to get their paintings put in a gallery?”

    Without exception all the artists I know would wet themselves with excitement at the prospect of getting work into a gallery likely to be visited by 30000+ people. But then if I told them it would only cost $50 and they wouldn’t have to sleep with anyone they wouldn’t believe me anymore.

  • Data

    hahaha bateleur!

  • fish

    im considering this.

  • Tommunism

    ditto fish

  • juice

    Requiring $50 to register is similar to requiring a credit card to sign-up for free content: it’s designed to filter out spammers, script kiddies and no-hopers (admittedly, a lot of the latter tend to auto-bill you if you forget to cancel!).

    If a game is good enough to be considered, then even if the author can’t afford $50, there should be enough of an appreciative audience to be able to get some sponsorship – artworld sponsors have been around since people scratched stick-figures onto cave walls.

    It may not seem fair, and the need to give a financial commitment is a crude filter at best, but it’s a solution that works without huge amounts of input from the organisers (at least until it becomes time to choose the top ten) and isn’t subject to vote-rigging, multiple submissions or the like.