Hi-Rez Expo (HRX) has been its own standalone event for three years. But soon, that’s going to change. This year, Hi-Rez is breaking tradition by holding HRX and the Smite World Championship within the DreamHack Atlanta Festival. The response from Smite fans has been mixed. Let’s look at the event with a critical eye, and see what’s good and bad about the Hi-Rez Expo DreamHack change.
The most immediate negative responses to the event were based on the new timing. DreamHack is held on November 16th through 18th, months before HRX’s early January date. Students with exams during that time, and people celebrating Thanksgiving will have trouble finding time in their schedule to attend the event. Late November is a busy time in many people’s lives, and other things will likely take priority to going to an esports event.
Another complaint about the change stems from the removed sense of community. Hi-Rez Expo was the only large gathering specifically for fans of Smite and Paladins. By becoming part of a larger event, Hi-Rez fans will no longer be isolated. Part of the draw of HRX for many people was getting to meet fellow Smite fans in a Smite centered environment.
But not everything about this change is negative.
The most obvious benefit of this shift is in attendance. HRX has consistently sold out every year, and it has only gotten bigger after incorporating Paladins into the mix. With DreamHack, there’s a much bigger venue. More Smite fans than ever before will have the opportunity to attend the event. And not only that, but DreamHack tickets are much cheaper than HRX tickets would be. While the timing of the event may prevent some people from going, the lowered price and the larger venue might may make up for that.
Hi-Rez has also claimed that the larger event space will let them provide more events to attendees. Panels, developer meetings, and a bigger stage are among the benefits of moving to DreamHack.
But potentially the biggest upside to DreamHack is the exposure the game will receive. Being a part of a larger event means that people attending or watching the stream for other games will see Smite at its best. The world championships are the perfect time to expose new players to Smite, when everyone’s passion for the game is at its highest. If moving HRX to DreamHack results in a bunch of new players getting into the game, then it will certainly have been worth it.
This change to HRX change may seem entirely positive or negative, depending on your perspective. If you’re someone that can’t attend or watch the event because of poor timing, it’s unlikely that you’ll view this change favorably. If you care more about the atmosphere of the isolated Smite community than how the Smite community contributes to esports culture as a whole, you’re going to be disappointed. But it’s important to see the bright side of Hi-rez Expo being at DreamHack. If the event can manage to draw new players to the game, then perhaps this change will be a net benefit to the Smite community. The only thing we can do now is wait and see.
Top image courtesy of the Official Smite Twitter account.