Everyone will come to their own conclusions about whether the cost is worth incurring. In my opinion shows like PAX are important for a few reasons:
- Introduce your game to players. Repetition and familiarity are proven forces of persuasion. The first time players see your game they may not even remember it. The next time they may say "Oh I saw that before" then continue walking. The third time they'll play and get hooked.
- Convert players to fans. Ultimately indies need people who love and advocate for their games. This is a great way to make fans.
- Validate an idea. You need to get out of the building and confirm you are making something players want. IMB may be too late in the process but is another reality check.
- Try to meet the press. You will make some contacts. In my experience, though, it's tough to get their attention when Blizzard has Overwatch across the hall
To date I think IMB has been well worth the cost. Without a doubt I would do it for future games. That said I understand that it may not be the right fit for certain types of games or for games very early in development.
Stepping back, my question for POKU is: how will players discover your game?