Tickets for Penny Arcade’s annual West coast video game fan convention normally sell out incredibly fast, with choice tickets to the weekend-long event usually gone in minutes. But 2021 isn’t a normal year, and in the looming shadow of a continuing global pandemic, tickets to this year’s PAX West, even running at reduced capacity, are still readily available two weeks after going on sale.
“Badges on sale” reads a button at the top of the PAX West 2021 website, inviting the masses to come in and get their pass to the latest iteration of the original Penny Arcade Expo. Clicking the button takes you to the sale page. While the option to purchase a four-day pass to the convention is listed as “sold out,” individual day passes for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are available for purchase. At $US60 ($80) apiece, one could purchase passes for all four days and pay only $US10 ($13) more than they would for a four-day pass.
This continued availability is most likely due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Last year convention organisers opted for a digital-only event due to the dangers of gathering in large groups while a deadly virus ravaged the global population. This year Reedpop and Penny Arcade surprisingly decided to gamble on the return of the live event, inviting game companies and gamers from around the world to converge in Seattle, Washington from September 3-6.
Even with a brighter outlook in the United States regarding covid-19 at the time thanks to the rapid deployment of vaccines, the general consensus seems to be that it’s still too soon to be planning large gatherings. Many countries in the world do not have easy access to covid-19 vaccinations, new variants of the virus are running rampant, and there are plenty of folks out there who just don’t want to get vaccinated for whatever reasons. While PAX organisers suggest they will take some sort of precautions to help avoid the potential spread of the virus, they will not be requiring any sort of proof of vaccination. That’s a bold move for the show that’s already got a fake sickness, PAX Pox, named after it.
Judging from current ticket sales, the show’s bold reopening might not pan out. PAX West 2021 already planned to be running at a diminished capacity, a measure meant to combat the spread of covid. That there are still tickets available out of this diminished pool is a possible indicator that many folks still feel skittish about attending a live event.
We’ve reached out to Penny Arcade and Reedpop for comment on ticket availability and will update should we hear back. With all of the four-day passes accounted for, it seems doubtful PAX West 2021 will be completely scrapped. It just might wind up being the smallest, most intimate Penny Arcade Expo ever.