What you need to know
- Otakon 2019 took place in Washington, D.C. at the end of July.
- Almost 30,000 individuals attended the convention.
- There was a substantial gaming presence there.
- Microsoft only had a small booth and needs to do more next year.
At the end of July, I went to Otakon 2019 in Washington, D.C. This 25-year-old convention was attended by nearly 30,000 people and has grown considerably since its move from Baltimore to Washington. Attendance has skyrocketed because it has become a celebration of anime, manga, music, movies, games, and much more. The event runs for an entire weekend and is jam-packed with talks, special guests, vendors, and other activities.
I was able to experience almost every aspect of the conference as I viewed tournament matches, cosplay competitions, art show, high-end auction items, and even a dance performance. It was quite the experience and I can't wait to go again next year.
There are some panels that are hilarious like "When Subtitles Go Wrong." These are probably some of the talks attendees enjoyed the most because not only are they informative, but they're filled with examples we haven't heard of. These are the types of surprises I didn't expect to find at Otakon.
Since this was my first time at such an event, I wasn't sure what to think. While you can read about attendance figures and look at photos all you want, it's quite different in person. Witnessing the legions of fans participating in various activities, seeing the endless rows of vendors, and eating various foods from around Asia is an unforgettable experience.
Fans – many of whom are gamers – travel from all around the United States and abroad to attend the event, and the passion the community exudes is infectious. From the cosplay outfits to the various works of art on display, it's clear that everyone has put their heart and soul into Otakon. There's something to do for everyone.
Otakon 2019 featured a considerable gaming presence where certain companies had organized tournaments for fighting games, set up arcades with unique titles, and even sectioned off an area for card games. Tens of thousands of people toured the section as thousands tried out fighting games like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Injustice 2, Mortal Kombat 11, and more. Curiously, there wasn't an obvious Xbox booth.
For some odd reason, Microsoft only had a small presence at the event. The company set up one table with a handful of portable gaming booths. It was handing out cups and pens. The titles showcased were Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Rocket League. There was no mention of the company's upcoming console Project Scarlett, the upcoming game streaming service Project xCloud, or important titles like Gears 5 or The Outer Worlds that are coming later this year.
To me, this feels like a wasted opportunity. Considering that Otakon 2019 is quite possibly the biggest Asian culture-focused convention on the East Coast, this is a great chance to acquire new customers. Showcasing the future of gaming to tens of thousands of individuals should be a priority for the company. Hopefully, the team responsible for organizing the tables will reconsider its stance next year.
If you're a fan of Asian culture, no matter what aspect of it, you should attend Otakon 2020. It's not only incredibly fun, but it's an educational experience in many ways. Next year, the event takes place from July 31 to August 2.
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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.
I agree that they should have a larger presence there, but showing off things like Halo, Rocket League, Outer Worlds, Gears of War, and the like doesn't make much sense at a convention celebrating Asian culture--although games like Dark Dreams Don't Die, Scalebound (RIP), ReCore, and other Japanese-developed, Microsoft-published games would have been.
Well, that's disappointing what a wasted opportunity... I hope this doesn't happen next year.
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