What We Know About PAX Unplugged

PAX GuidesPAX Unplugged

pax unplugged announced

At the start of PAX South 2017 an all new PAX event was announced: PAX Unplugged. Here is what we know about PAX Unplugged so far.

What, When, & Where

PAX Unplugged will be exclusively about tabletop gaming in all forms: board games, cards, dice, role playing, etc. It will be held November 17-19, 2017 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

Continuing the PAX Culture

Ars Technica interviewed Jerry Holkins (Penny Arcade writer/PAX co-founder) and Ryan Hartman (Penny Arcade Events Director) about the new PAX event. The two PAX organizers were adamant that PAX culture would be maintained, and some current PAX elements would carry over. Elements they value include floor space as an open playground, free games, new game previews, and game-friendly events.

That being said, each PAX develops its own tone. An all tabletop event wouldn’t be a copy/paste of the current PAX formula. Concerts are not likely to be a thing at PAX Unplugged, but new special events are being considered. It was noted that live streamed role-playing games are hot right now. Acquisitions Incorporated’s presence was neither confirmed, nor denied.

Microtransactions for Organized Play… Maybe?

One unclear comment made by Ryan has gained some attention within the PAX community. When the interviewer asked about “microtranactions” for play events a seemingly non-committal response was given.

Microtransactions for play events are a function seen at other large tabletop conventions, including Gen Con. Here is how they generally work:

  • You purchase a badge to gain entry to the convention.
  • Almost every organized play event requires an event ticket, in addition to the badge. Event tickets are sold in advance for a few dollars.
  • Attendees can purchase specific event tickets in advance, thus guaranteeing themselves a seat at the table.
  • Generic event tickets may also sold at the show, which can be exchanged for play events with available openings.
  • Unused generic event tickets can be returned for a refund.

Such a system saves time for attendees (no waiting in line to play). It also helps organizers know where to put resources. Gen Con also has a free play area, similar to PAX’s Tabletop library and free play area, which doesn’t require event tickets.

Regardless of the pros and cons, if such a system was used for PAX Unplugged it would be a big change for regular PAX attendees. With current PAX events your badge purchase grants you almost full access to the show and games. The few exceptions include the BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) and the full True Dungeon experience announced for PAX South 2018. Until we get more details, including what everything is going to cost, don’t rush to any value judgements.

Stay Tuned

Expect more details to be announced at or after PAX East, March 10-12 in Boston. You can also sign up for the PAX Unplugged mail list.