Four expos dominate 2011's video game landscape - Los Angeles's E3, Gamescom in Germany, the San Diego Game Developers Conference, and the Tokyo Games Show in Japan. Publisher and developer presence at fan-focused conventions has been further raising the prominence of the two Penny Arcade Expos and the Comic-Cons in San Diego and New York.
Expect plenty of boasting over sales of the Xbox Kinect, Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Move from their respective manufacturers at the trade shows, and perhaps even a successor to the Sony PSP.
2nd Penny Arcade Expo East
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Establishing itself with 52,000 visitors in its first year, PAX East returns to Boston but in a much larger venue. A celebration of video game culture, with hands-on demo pods, panel talks, Q&A sessions, live podcasts and tabletop games.
17th Electronic Entertainment Expo aka E3
Los Angeles, California, USA
Any doubts as to E3's importance were dismissed with E3 2010's huge blockbuster presentations featuring the Kinect, Move, 3DS, and a host of third-party game developers. Current most likely location for a reveal of the speculated PSP2.
39th San Diego Comic-Con
San Diego, California, USA
The USA's biggest comic convention now covers animation, cult TV series, film, merchandise, and even video games, especially where those games feature super-powered heroes and heroines or have some other link to the world of comics and graphic novels.
In or near Dallas, Texas, USA
id Software's annual convention is aimed squarely at fans of the studio's influential Doom and Quake series. Many attendees bring their own computers in order to take part in organized gaming events. id's new project, Rage, due in September 2011, should feature heavily at QuakeCon, and will attract mainstream interest.
Usual location: Anaheim, California, USA
A fan convention put on by Activision Blizzard, publishers of the popular StarCraft and WarCraft series. Both StarCraft II and World of WarCraft's third expansion, Cataclysm, launched in 2010, so the unreleased Diablo III is expected to soak up more of the limelight in 2011. The convention includes competitions, talks, concerts, and goody bags featuring Blizzard Interactive memorabilia.
Europe's largest trade and public video games expo took no time at all to establish itself, branching off from the old Leipzig Games Convention. The European instance of the Game Developers Conference also runs alongside it.
8th PAX Prime
Seattle, Washington, USA
The original Penny Arcade Expo, now known as PAX Prime after the creation of PAX East, hauled in close to 70,000 visitors in 2010. Extremely participative, inclusive, and broad-minded, PAX events manage to retain a grass-roots feel while pulling in big-name developers and publishers.
21st Tokyo Game Show
Along with GDC, E3 and Gamescom, one of the year's most important and influential expos. Strong showings from Sony's internal studios and Nintendo's third-party developers can be expected, and Microsoft used the 2010 event to show that they were keen to see the Xbox 360 accepted by Japanese consumers.
6th New York Comic-Con
New York City, USA
Now notable for revealing new information on video games, and not just those with links to film or comics: The Michael Jackson Experience, DC Universe Online, Dead Space 2 and Street Fighter x Tekken were among those shown off at the 2010 edition.