By isomeri 1 Comments
With big gaming expos like E3, TGS and Gamescom taking up most of the attention of publishers, manufacturers and the press each year, it’s easy to sometimes forget those smaller expos held annually in countries around the world.
One such event is the Finnish Gameworld, which at some point morphed into DigiExpo and this year into GameXpo. The format is familiar to anyone who’s been to or seen any gaming exhibition in the past, except that everything is in a smaller scale. Despite their smaller size, these events have always been a cool way to see upcoming games and consoles sometimes months before they hit stores. I got my palms on the PS2, Xbox and GameCube for the first time at Gameworld and fiddled around with the blades of the Xbox 360 back at DigiExpo 2005.
This years’ show, as with the few previous years of DigiExpo, was held alongside a skiing expo. However, unlike previous years, the two shows had been crammed into the same expo hall with room still left for vast spaces of empty booth space. Mostly this was due to the exclusion of the “digi” part of the expo. In previous years the event has also been a place where tech manufacturers like Samsung, LG and Nokia have been able to showcase their new products ranging from smart fridges to televisions and drones.
But the gaming side of the show itself was also thinned out drastically this year. Granted, most of the major releases of the year are already out and many publishers probably didn’t feel the need to hype up games that are already out. That being said, most of the booth space was reserved for games available on store shelves.
Sony was present with a large area reserved for PlayStation VR and their PlayLink products. The latter I was not interested in and the lines of the VR stuff were so drastic that I decided to just enjoy watching one guy almost trip over six times in a row while playing Farpoint. Everyone who got to try out GT Sport in a racing rig with VR goggles did seem to have a huge smile on their face after they were done though.
Opposite Sony, Gigantti, who are one of the biggest electronics shops in Finland, had set up shop partnering with HP and Xbox. HP had games like Overwatch running on their Omen desktops at impressive framerates and resolutions. Microsoft on the other hand were showing Forza 7 running on an Xbox One X with a racing rig planted right in front of a very large and nice 4K TV. This I did wait in line for and try out, and I will admit that after the dozens of hours of playing that game on my PC at 1080p and max settings, the bump into 4K was a revelation. There was also one console running Super Lucky's Tale, and seeing that game after playing through Super Mario Odyssey was like opening a time capsule in both good and bad ways.
One of the surprises of the show was the addition of vendors selling all sorts of gaming and entertainment related crap, I mean products, from shirts and posters board games and figures. A few smaller booths had a nice selection of used games and consoles for sale, and I actually found myself considering the purchase of a PS One in nice condition.
The second surprise was Bandai Namco. Their booth was as large as Sony’s and even had interesting unreleased games available for anyone to play, CodeVein, Ni no Kuni II and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Unfortunately, I don’t have much familiarity with any of these franchises or genres. Both Ni no Kuni and Dragon Ball did look very nice, and especially the fluidity of the animation in Dragon Ball was impressive considering the seemingly early build. The build of CodeVein was much rougher, and all I can say is that it sure does look and feel like one of those Souls games.
Another publisher with interesting unreleased games was Ubisoft. The company was showing The Crew 2 and Far Cry 5 in a closed booth, alongside what seemed like Assassin’s Creed Origins running on Xbox One X consoles. Far Cry 5 felt immediately familiar and it took me no time to take over the compound provided in the demo. My biggest takeaway perhaps was that the insides of buildings seemed much more detailed with cans and thing flying about in the gunfire. I also found myself having more firefights through windows and over desks. The Crew 2 demo was even more limited, letting me only test out a plane, a boat and a Porsche very quickly. The driving in a city looked good and felt about as good as a Need for Speed game. The boat and plane stuff on the other hand was trivially easy and I found it difficult to get any excitement from them outside of how nice the city looked from the cockpit of the plane.
After around an hour and a half, I’d seen all the games there were to see. And in the end, I felt really bummed out about the state of the expo. Sure, it was a nice Sunday distraction. But considering the 18 euro entrance fee, I’d have to have been really pumped about the Overwatch tournament running in the corner and a few Twitch streamers trying out for chicken dinners to justify spending the price of a nice meal on what I’d seen and experienced.
The gaming expos of Finland have gone through ups and downs in the past, so I’m not horribly afraid for the future of the thing. Then again, I also found myself wondering the relevance of a physical gaming exhibition in the age of digital games, as a smaller reflection of how shows like E3 have had to adapt. I guess if we'll have some big November-December releases again next year, the fate of the small gaming expo will start to reveal itself.