With the coronavirus pandemic presumed by many people to be under control, despite the rise of the delta variant, a few video game conventions have opened their doors back up to the public in 2021. PAX West will continue with its scheduled in-person event from September 3 to September 6, and it was expected to be Seattle’s largest public convention since the pandemic began. Health and safety are an understandable concern at PAX West, and those wishing to attend will be required to wear a face covering and show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
The great majority of gaming conventions have decided to cancel their plans for this year or have moved to an online-only venue, and there is uncertainty about the status of others. The New York Comic Con was rumored to be canceling its physical convention scheduled for October 2021, but will actually be holding a hybrid event with a COVID-19 vaccination or negative test required for in-person attendees.
Since PAX West started on September 3, pictures have begun to make their way online that show an unusually empty Washington State Convention Center. Many were unsure if the customary number of people would attend, with the coronavirus safety requirements creating an extended wait to get inside, or if people would instead steer clear of the event entirely. It seems to have been the latter. Though in recent years PAX has stopped releasing official attendance numbers, it seems clear that the count for 2021 will be much lower than previous years.
There are now multiple PAX conventions held throughout the year: South, East, West, Dev, Australia, and Unplugged. Unlike PAX West, PAX East was held entirely online in July 2021. Of the other conventions, only PAX Unplugged still seems to be optimistic about its convention planned for December, according to the official PAX website. PAX South has been postponed to 2022, while PAX Dev never had a publicly announced date for 2021 and the website still shows the schedule for 2019.
PAX Australia 2021 has also been postponed from its scheduled October event to an undetermined date in 2022, due to concerns for public safety and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in Australia. In 2020, the organizers held PAX Aus Online, and that is the new plan for 2021. Information about the online-only convention will be announced on social media. Those who purchased tickets to attend PAX Australia in person can receive a full refund of their ticket price.
Source: PAX Website