INSiGHT: EGX 2021 – The Verdict

By Luke Hemming 11.10.2021

Riding the tube down towards the ExCeL on a Saturday morning, with EGX having already been in full for a few days, social media was already fully ablaze with the social tag #EGXREFUND. With such a prevalent and clear message there was unease from the press gallery before entry. There certainly seemed to be a steady backlash against the entry fee versus the content, but after two days of hitting the stands, were they right? Well, yes and no.

With the current situation still in effect, the three big names as well as some of the major developers decided to skip the event. The main issue flooding the socials being how late in the day it was before any of this was announced, long after tickets had been purchased. As a press passer (brag intended), price wasn't an issue, with the EGX crew being kind enough to give free entry for all days. For a lot of the general public, myself included, back when I mingled with the masses, seeing the big names was easily the biggest draw. For them not to be there and no chance of some sneak previews and new demos, disappointment was inevitable. With the ExCeL having such a large floor space also, without the leaders in games development not taking up floorspace it was difficult for things not to feel a little bit barren.
So, was it all doom and gloom without any new games to play? Not really. In all honesty the lack of AAA titles was if anything, an unexpected treat. The easiest way to describe this years' experience was probably EGX Rezzed 2.0, a biggie indie developer experience with a few big hitters littering the hall. A chance for the unknowns and the upcomers to shine, and shine they did.

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The jewel in the crown was the Leftfield collection, described by EGX themselves, 'The Leftfield Collection showcases all the interesting, creative and fun games and game-like projects, including those in the very early stages of development.' The majority of Cubed3s time was spent in there over the first day trying out some bizarre and unique titles from some small-scale developers, most of which had a perfect approach to innovative game design and storytelling. Were they going to set the world alight? Probably not, but all are going to find a special place in your gaming heart at release. Keep an eye on our Cubed3 EGX coverage to see what really captured our imagination.

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With no major queues to join and get bored in, there was also an opportunity to take in the industry and development talks showcased in the EGX Theatre. As a lowly paying customer in the past, these were largely ignored in favour of trying a new title early (priorities) but after this year, all previous visits now feel like a missed opportunity. Put simply, every talk and showcase we attended was a fascinating insight into the industry as well as a chance to see what people have been doing throughout the current situation to 'keep on keeping on' The highlights of what we experienced were certainly a talk by Broken Sword creator Charles Cecil, who gave a fascinating talk on his experiences in game development as well as some new information on his latest title Beyond A Steel Sky. A massive thank you to him as well for taking the time to shoot the breeze with us after the talk, more of which will feature in an upcoming article which will essentially just be us confirming what a pioneer in the industry he is. The National Videogame Museum also produced a fascinating insight into how Animal Crossing has led the way in ensuring wellbeing has been maintained throughout lockdown with its implementation of village design, communication and self-image.  

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Looking back over the past few days, it seems to all be a matter of perspective. Certainly, if prices and communication had been looked at beforehand, a lot of the grumbles going around would have been quelled. Advertise as another Rezzed event and take full advantage of the indies eager to proudly show off their creations. If going in with no pre-conceived ideas however, all that was found were some excellent new titles and the time to play them, as well as some genuinely interesting showcases and talks around that wonderful world of gaming we love so much.


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