EGX 2022 returned to London’s Excel Centre for the show’s second post-pandemic year. The event is one of the UK’s premier videogame conferences where indies, major players, retro enthusiasts and more gather to celebrate gaming culture.

Having last visited EGX pre-pandemic (2020 was shut down like much of the conference industry) EGX 2022 was a noticeably smaller affair – with fewer big names present, and many creative attempts to make the event feel lively in their absence. But visitor attendance was definitely keen on returning to the convention scene.

In previous years, EGX filled multiple halls, but this year’s show was limited to a single large hall. A brand and licensing expo took up many of the other halls in the convention centre, with IP overlaps generating a degree of confusion for yours truly.

To give the sense of busy-ness, practically all the indie developers had their demo setups clustered around the entrance. While probably beneficial for the developers in some respects – they get seen first by visitors – they had such an incredibly limited amount of space to work with that the area felt overwhelming at times.

After passing through the crowded indie area, the floor opens up to significantly larger spaces for bigger names. Nintendo had two demo setups  – one for people to try out the general Nintendo Switch first-party library and another to play the just-released Splatoon 3 (this was very busy). No forthcoming game demos were on show.

SEGA had a large area for people to try out Sonic Frontiers. There was a decent queue, but I was able to check out the title for a 15-minute timed demo. It isn’t bad, though whether the game really shines and achieves what it sets out to do will only be told closer to launch.

One game that used its demo space very well was House Flipper 2 – it didn’t have many demo screens, but the bright and open setup enabled the curious to easily observe the game as it was played by others. It put the game on my radar and convinced me to add it to my Steam Wishlist.

The delayed adventure platform game Planet of Lana was there – along with publisher Thunderful – with a playable demo. The game still looks very promising.

Some established games had significant booth presences. Disco Elysium, which debuted in 2019 and then had a ‘Final Cut’ edition release in 2021, had a major booth for those who had yet to try it out. While not unwelcome, it felt somewhat strange to be playing a demo of a game that had been out for so long.

A major draw for attendees, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty had a consistently heavy and slow-moving line. Frustratingly, the demo booths were concealed from observation.

Steam Deck had a significant presence at EGX 2022. A large area had been set up for people to sit and try out different games on various units – Return to Monkey Island, Stray, Neon White, and Elden Ring were playable on the demo devices. It was impressive to see Valve’s handheld PC hybrid make a significant con presence and an indication that supplies are beginning to catch up to demand such that they can build even more interest in the device.

Like indies, merch stalls were crowded together – and were surprisingly much of a muchness. There wasn’t a lot of variety amongst the retro stalls or many places to buy interesting mods kits. Plenty of anime merch stalls and prints, though.

There were multiple areas where panels took place. None of them were sufficiently walled off from the event which, in one sense, made them welcoming for passerbys, but  the loud, background noise of the event made it difficult to follow what was happening during the panels.

At the back was a neat retro arcade and console area – which got some decent foot traffic.

EGX 2022
Retro arcade area @ EGX 2022

Overall, EGX 2022 follows a trend of cons finding their feet again in the wake of the pandemic shutdowns. With the big names, and biggest draws, sitting it out, it begs the question: how do you keep an event exciting and interesting for fans without breaking the bank and while managing uncertainty? EGX 2022 was a valiant effort, but sadly this year’s event didn’t quite make the grade to warrant more than a few hours visit – you could walk from one end to the other in about five minutes. Hopefully next year will see things improve.