Eurogamer Expo 2013: Show Review (or how to deal with queue-jumpers)

Three-hour queues, crazy cosplayers and next-gen consoles… Eurogamer Expo is always full of top games to play before they come out, which is great – but how was the show itself this year?
Was it worth going? How can you get the most from the Expo? What about dealing with queue-jumpers? Find out in our (rather belated) 2013 Eurogamer Expo review, which takes a look at the show rather than a specific game preview.

First things first – having an early-entry ticket makes a massive difference. That extra hour (10am entry instead of 11am) means you can go straight to the game you want and play it in a matter of minutes. So you can forget that hour-plus queue for the The Elder Scrolls Online or other big-name game – which we guarantee will be growing even further come midday.
Talking of queues, these are one of just two things that would put me off going to Eurogamer Expo again in the future – the other being queue-jumpers. But we’ll come onto those delightful miscreants later.
Obviously, the longest queues will be for the biggest upcoming games -your Call of Duty and Battlefield types. So if you only want to play the bigg’uns, pick eight or nine and stick to them, as you’ll only have eight or nine hours max if you want to squeeze them all into one day. Or if you want to try Titanfall, you can play it two or three times in an entire day if you’re lucky (if you visited on the Thursday, where we heard that queues for that were about three hours long).

Oh look – a queue.

Some titles like Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 don’t really have any queues – just multiple booths where you can stand behind a sole player until they’re finished. So that’s cool – and the indie games area is fantastic. If you don’t like queues, but want to check out something new instead, have a look. We tried the brilliant turn-based strategy sports title Frozen Endzone and checked out Hotline Miami 2 this year.
It’s worth maintaining a sense of perspective too. It might be okay queuing an hour and a half to play The Elder Scrolls Online as it’s not out until six months or so (plus it’s bloody amazing), but do you really want to wait two-and-a-half hours to try Pokémon X and Y even though it hit stores weeks later?

I look at it like this. If I’m going to queue up for an hour to try the latest ride at Alton Towers, then I don’t mind waiting that long to experience an upcoming video game. But I wouldn’t wait two or three hours to try the ride a few weeks before everyone else. And I certainly wouldn’t let Alan the angstsy teenager barge in front of me. Which brings me to my next point.

Yes, you’re going to get these wherever there’s queues, especially in a dark, giant arena full of the latest entertainment where it’s very easy to jump in line without being spotted. There are lots of excitable young people with their friends who may feel daring enough to try their luck, but not on my watch.
Here’s a quick guide to the different types of queue-jumpers and how to deal with them:
– Creepers – as their name suggests, these sly buggers will slowly creep forward to claim their position in the queue. They will start by stopping at a point in the queue, before innocently looking around, as if they’re searching for a friend or another game. Don’t buy into their deception. They are actually attempting to form a second queue (usually consisting of just themselves or a couple of others), which will eventually meld into the main queue. After a few minutes of looking around, they will slowly become part of the queue (and will often join as the line is moving forwards so they’re easy to miss).
– Sleepers – these gits have the knack of blending into their surroundings, like an immoral chameleon. After the game ends and players are ushered away from their consoles, sleepers will somehow manage to remain in their seats, or get up and walk slowly to the another seat instead of exiting the area. They’ll sit down as people at the front of the queue join them, remaining unnoticed.

Another queue.

– Friendlies – arguably the hardest queue-jumpers to deal with, friendlies are the name I give to those who join their friends who have saved them a space in the queue. I don’t really have a problem with these guys, as long as it’s not like a party of 15 that joins one friend. Two or three is fine (we’re sure letting these in counts as some kind of queue etiquette).
– Innocents – these are seemingly do-gooders who have no idea what’s going on. They didn’t know that the show will end at 7pm. They weren’t sure which queue to join. They’ve walked 500 miles just to play this game. But really, they of course know exactly how it is – they’re simply using false innocence to beat the system and join a queue which is no longer accepting people.
– Two-timers – You won’t come across many of these – they’re people who leave a game which has a queue divided into two parts, only to re-join the second part of the queue after playing. I saw two guys do this for Titanfall (which had one queue leading to a screening area, then another final queue to join after watching the video). They played the game, then joined the final queue again, skipping the entire first part.

The indie games area is well worth a visit.

Eurogamer boss Rupert Loman asked me to write nice things about the show when I mentioned I was writing an article. But what was supposed to be a review of Eurogamer Expo 2013 has somehow transformed into a rant about queue-jumpers (sorry Rupert). So it’s worth pointing out that the show is fantastic overall – it genuinely is. Excellent games, excellent people (largely) and excellent layout.
There’s a huge variety of games and consoles (from Xbox One to the Oculus Rift), cosplay competitions, developer sessions, announcements and loads of merch on hand. The food areas are okay (though usually cheap snacks like sandwiches and chips are pricey at around £5/£6-plus), the toilets are pretty clean and you all know about the queues.
Ticket prices are acceptable at around £15, though they’re non-refundable (and the price has shot up quickly from the £7 ticket face-value just a few years back, but that’s acceptable considering the show has moved to the much larger Earls Court). Adding up train fares and food, you’re looking at around £50 at least for a day out, so use your student railcards and pack a sandwich!
It’s also worth noting that there will be two Eurogamer Expos in 2014 – one in London and one further North, so that should hopefully shorten queues…
Ultimately, Eurogamer Expo is still a must-visit for serious gamers. Where else can you play the greatest games of the next-generation and meet like-minded gamers to boot? There is a bit of work to be done (more screens for the big games and better maps/plans please!) but overall, and despite the negativity that may have come across from this article (I’m getting moany in my old age), I still love the Expo to bits.
Here’s to many more.
Images courtesy of Multiplay’s Fickr album

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10 years ago

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