After a scaled-back show last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fan Expo Canada is returning in full force this month.
From August 25th to 28th, Canada’s biggest pop-culture event will be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, offering all kinds of nerd-friendly programming. Now, the final schedule for the show has just been released, so you can plan out your weekend accordingly.
This year, though, the show’s gaming-related programming looks a bit different. Traditionally, video game publishers have come to the show with booths featuring all kinds of playable demos, but those were completely missing during the smaller October 2021 event. Even now, amid loosened restrictions, the gaming attractions at the show aren’t quite what they used to be.
So far, it’s unclear if there will be any playable demos for upcoming games. Xbox Canada has confirmed to MobileSyrup that it will not be present at the show, while PlayStation and Nintendo’s respective national divisions told us they’re looking into what, if anything, they may have. We’ll update this story once responses have been received.
What that leaves us with, then, is still solid, albeit a bit of a hodgepodge.
Bell Esports Challenge
— Bell (@Bell) August 16, 2022
When it’s not unceremoniously laying off beloved Canadian journalist Lisa LaFlamme and numerous other employees across Canada, Bell has also been dipping its foot in the world of competitive gaming. This is a new initiative from the carrier, which it says is intended to help “develop the amateur Canadian esports scene.”
Fan Expo will be hosting the finals for each of the following three tournaments:
- Rocket League — 3v3
- Call of Duty — 4v4
- Valorant — 5v5
Those who win will receive $30,000+ in cash prizes and a trip to any 2023 North American DreamHack Festival of their choice. The finals will also be streamed on Twitch.
It’s official: we’re coming back to @FANEXPOCANADA ! Our booth is getting upgraded, with gaming stations, a merch area, a charging station for your phones, and of course, our classic lounge for you to snap pictures in. We’ll be located in the Community Zone, so stop by 💜🎮 pic.twitter.com/rmeSc51ZHe
— FEMME GAMING (@FemmeGamingGG) August 7, 2022
Femme Gaming, a group that aims to promote an inclusive gaming community for women, will have a ‘Femme Gaming Free Play Lounge’ in which attendees can play some games for free.
Additionally, Femme Gaming will be hosting two panels:
- Ladies Power Hour — Exploring the Fandom, Hosted by Camille Salazar Hadaway — Thursday, August 25th at 7:30pm (Room 717 – Theatre 5)
- Online Gaming #Safety Tips for Parents and Kids — Sunday, August 8th from 2:15pm to 2:45pm
To my most excellent Toronto Tweeps,
I will be appearing at my favourite home-town event, the Toronto @FANEXPOCANADA from August 25-28th, with an extra day thrown in for beer and poutine.
Come down and yell SNAKE at me.
(Everyone else does.)
See you there, ya hosers! pic.twitter.com/uUQT0D4mGB
— David Hayter (@DavidBHayter) August 12, 2022
Part of the appeal of shows like Fan Expo is getting to meet talent and get autographs and photos. For gaming, specific, Fan Expo has some pretty big names in the gaming space:
Chloe Hollings (Overwatch)
Canada’s own David Hayter (Metal Gear series)
Nolan North (Uncharted series)
Troy Baker (The Last of Us series)
Carolina Ravassa (Overwatch)
Giancarlo Esposito (Far Cry 6)
It’s worth noting that they’re all offering signings and photos at their respective tables. On top of that, they’re each taking part in panels:
- Troy Baker — Friday, August 26th from 12pm to 12:45pm (Room 206 — Theatre A)
- Chloe Hollings and Carolina Ravassa — Friday, August 26th from 1pm to 1:45pm (Room 206 — Theatre A)
- Nolan North — Friday, August 26th from 3pm to 3:45pm (Room 206 — Theatre A)
- David Hayter — Sunday, August 28th from 1pm to 1:45pm (Room 206 — Theatre A) [fun fact: both Hayter and this panel’s moderator, writer Sam Maggs, are Canadian!]
- Giancarlo Esposito — Sunday, August 28th from 3pm to 3:40pm (Room 106 — Constitution Hall)
Meet the Canadian developers of Call of Duty*
Developers from Quebec City-based Beenox and Sledgehammer Games’ Toronto studio will hold a panel to talk about what it’s like to work on the juggernaut Call of Duty franchise. They’ll also answer questions related to breaking into the gaming industry.
This panel will be held on Saturday, August 27th from 2pm to 2:45pm in Room 701B — Theatre 2.
Retro video game arcade
On all four days of the show, you can pop by Room 803 to game on a bunch of original arcade cabinets. A live DJ will also be on-site to play retro music.
— Ubisoft Canada (@UbisoftCanada) August 18, 2022
Ubisoft, one of Canada’s biggest game makers, is confirmed to have a booth. Specifically, the company says attendees will be able to:
- Play Assassin’s Creed games on new-gen consoles (the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S)
- Have a chance to win “exclusive collector’s items”
- Take pictures with life-size statues of Assassins
That’s a round-up of all of the major gaming programming. Of course, there’s a bunch of other fandoms accounted for, such as sci-fi (several Stranger Things stars, including Vancouver’s Finn Wolfhard, and Star Wars actors like Esposito and Ashley Eckstein); fantasy (The Lord of the Rings‘ four main Hobbits); superhero (Superman & Lois‘ Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch); Clerks’ Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and friends and comic creators (Batman‘s Greg Capullo and Tom King, Venom‘s Ryan Stegman).
*While people have unfortunately largely stopped talking about it, we’d be remiss not to mention the ongoing legal action and work culture issues faced by Call of Duty parent company Activision Blizzard. Specifically, the gaming giant was accused in a July 2021 lawsuit of fostering a toxic “frat boy” culture in which many employees, particularly women, dealt with harassment, gender discrimination, unequal pay and other forms of mistreatment. Bobby Kotick, the company’s CEO, has specifically come under fire for allegedly working to cover up these reports and has faced calls to resign, yet he still leads the company. Earlier this week, Axios also reported that Activision Blizzard has been hit with two setbacks related its legal battle with California over the workplace misconduct allegations. We’ve included this Call of Duty panel to promote the work of the Canadian developers who had nothing to do with these incidents. But beyond that, there appears to be much more to be done to improve matters at the company, and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Image credit: Fan Expo