DreamHack Melbourne 2024: Our top 5 takeaways

DreamHack celebrated its third year in Melbourne with a three-day event covering e-sports, gaming, tabletop, tech and pop culture. Hosted at Rod Laver Arena, the festival which started out as primarily e-sports focused, has really found its stride this year, carving its own identity and fostering a place for communities to grow and nurture, along with creators having the space to interact with their communities in an intimate space.

Don’t get me wrong, E-Sports is still front and centre at this event, with the ESL Challenger Counter-Strike Tournament, and the League of Legends Oceanic Split 1 Grand Final being a large drawcard for the event. There is so much more to this event, we have broken it down into our top 5 experiences over the weekend. 

5. Artist Alley

Last year there were about 10 artists that made up the alley, all offering the usual pieces of art that you would expect to see at an event like this. This year, word got out about DreamHack and a whopping 100 artists gathered at the event selling a range of wall art, stickers, and collectibles. The highlight among them was WookieePrint, which was selling a hugely popular range of 3D-printed Pokemon and Nintendo goodies. Their popular wall art cartridges Switch cartridge cases were the hottest item to get at the festival. 

4. Creator Panels

This year’s panels were headed up by creators who have gone on to make a living out of doing what they love. Hearing the stories of how the creators got started and wound up making a decent living from their craft was incredibly inspiring. There were some really great insights here and real-world tips on how you can turn your hobby into a career. The highlight of the weekend was SnugBoy discussing his journey from YouTube video maker to video editing as a career freelancer and making money from it. 

3. DreamHack Pokemon Go Stand

Niantic brought their popular Pokemon Go stand to DreamHack AU for 2024. A fully decked-out event that included a photo opp, some great hats, stickers and pins for fans to collect. They also had some great in-game events that were exclusive to the event, including Lure Modules, 2 x Buddy Catch assist chances, and 1/ 2 Stardust costs for trades. There were also event-themed field research events with shiny Pokemon to find! If you completed the research tasks, there was Pikachu Candy to earn to eventually find a Pikachu wearing a red party hat. It added an interactive element to the festival and consistently had a queue! 

2. Cosplay Competition

To quote one of my favourite cosplayers of all time Cosplay Chris, “Cosplayers do it best!” This year they did not disappoint! An army of cosplayers decked out as their favourite characters from a wide range of gaming and pop culture filled the festival with so much joy. There was a mammoth $30,000 AU in prizes for the Cosplay competition across a range of categories and seeing some of the most incredibly detailed and beautifully made designs on the main stage in the Rod Laver Arena was an unmissable event. 

1. Hololive 3D Concert

It was an incredible privilege to be among the first in Australia to see the Hololive 3D concert. The event, titled “Hololive production x DreamHack Melbourne 2024: Down Under,” featured performers including Houshou Marine (Hololive), Tokoyami Towa (Hololive), Kureiji Ollie (Hololive Indonesia), Pavolia Reine (Hololive Indonesia), Mori Calliope (Hololive English), and Hakos Baelz (Hololive English). This was my first experience with a Vtuber and was a fantastic way to open up more spaces for more communities in the gaming and tech space. It was also encouraging to see not only in-person but streaming tickets offered as well so fans who couldn’t make it to the sold-out concert, could watch from the comfort of their couches at home. 

DreamHack Australia was an incredibly successful event in 2024. It kept its roots in e-sports and fleshed it out, inviting creators, their communities and games and tech lovers everywhere to attend this PAX-level event. The organisers confirmed that attendance was up to 35,513 through the doors over the three days, up from 25K last year.

There was a whopping 600 content creators who took part in panels, live streaming and community activities. The festival this year hosted a Cozy Corner with beanbags, a coffee cart and Stardew Valley on the big screen (my personal highlight of the festival!) with Fortress sponsoring a massive tabletop gaming area for gamers to interact.

It is easy to compare this to PAX, and while there are similarities and some cross-over, DreamHack offers a more intimate and community-driven experience over the game demos and expo hall vibe. The more gaming and tech events that are created and driven by the community, can only be a good thing and DreamHack 2024 is a prime example of that. DreamHack 2024 was a lot of fun and seemed to be a hit with the fans.

I am very excited to see how it grows next year.