Beat Retreat: GameStop Expo 2016, video game camp holds comic surprises

20160914_1550371Last week GameStop managers and employees got the royal treatment from the retailer’s various vendors and partners at GameStop Expo 2016 at the Anaheim Convention Center. The three day show is built as part reward for GameStop employees and part sales training from the many companies selling their products in GS stores. The final day of the show is open to the public to enjoy; so gamers can get hands on with some of the most anticipated games of the year. Here’s a few of the sights we saw during our brief time at the expo.

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Oh Japan when will you stop making everything more efficient

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Every convention starts with simply getting in the doors and much like smaller shows; GameStop Expo gave those who purchase VIP packages a full 90 minute head start on the general public before the doors opened at 11am. Most of the show check-in to pick up tickets were run by automated kiosks in the lobby. While there didn’t seem to be many of them, there also was a lack of congestion as well. For Generals, once you scanned in someone handed you your pass. Very simple process indeed.

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Batman Statue life size only 125 Gillion rewards points

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welcome to my nightmare

Show floor traffic seemed hassle free. Even though lots of attendees decided to dress up and almost every booth has a paid model in costume as part of the attraction; it was nice to walk a show floor where you aren’t rear ending someone stopping short to take a picture of something. GS Expo has quite a unique feel that most who religiously attend conventions might not be familiar with. The vibe is a true mix of industry trade show and consumer shopping con. One of the very few disappointments I had at the expo was the WB Games booth. They had a massive set up, poised to show off Injustice 2 and Batman Arkham VR. Yet the only things the public could see on their day were looped trailers of the games. It’s just strange to not put in the budget for a few more hours of 3rd party booth handlers and a few devs if the booth is already there. Ultimately, the awesome looking WB Games booth ended up simply being a place to charge your phone. While that disappointed a few people, EA, Xbox, and PlayStation were in full effect drawing in crowds.
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While games are the focus of Gamestop expo, it’s presentation encompasses all the things you can find in a store from companies like Funko, We Love Fine, Diamond,  and McFarlane Toys. Perhaps one of the most surprising finds at the show was comics publisher Valiant who went all in with a full sized booth showing off their latest titles and merch. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any kind of Valiant merchandise in a GameStop, and the publisher hadn’t made a variant for the show. Their presence could’ve been a feeling out process or the publisher trying to open some sort of distribution deal.

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Gamestop Expo is a show worth ditching work for. You get to preivew games like Final Fantasy XV, Call of Duty, TitanFall, Dead Rising; all without the long waits of a PAX or if you’re lucky enough to get in, E3. The show occupies most of the convention center floor. While the list of games was not deep outside of the triple-A space everything is strategically spread out so it feels like there’s more than there really is. When you’re one of the largest retailers in the country, the faces of your suppliers come out when asked. Gamestop managed to get two days of Todd McFarlane signings for their VIPs and 2K Games brought WWE superstar The Miz to sign autographs for hundreds of fans.

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Todd McFarlane actually being able to talk to people!

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For the public, GameStop Expo is only a few short hours during the week. Should you find yourself at this annual show you’ll be immersed in playing video games, hoarding free candy from their sponsors, and loads of swag. While a 2017 date or location hasn’t been officially announced, you can keep an eye on the show’s official website for all the news.

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