Is the "Conpocalypse" Nigh?

View attachment 69861With Gen Con 2015 over, attendees can kick back their heels and reminisce about their awesome con experience. And it surely was for many people. But there were also con-goers who didn't have nearly as pleasant an experience, and it has to do with the ascension of geek culture and conventions' inability to keep up. At heart, conventions are geared for growth. It's a good thing, and convention companies work actively with hotels, restaurants, and exhibitors to ensure more and more people come to the convention. But what happens when a venue runs out of space?[h=3]Conventions Are Big Business[/h]Convention growth for Gen Con, San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York Comic Con (NYCC) has reached stratospheric heights. The convention gatekeepers who put on these shows are delighted, as is the tourism industry and the surrounding service groups who help make these shows successful. According to Gen Con’s latest press release, they had their best year ever:

Gen Con 2015 has set an all-new attendance record with a unique attendance of 61,423 and a turnstile attendance of 197,695, creating a six-year span of record growth. Since 2010, Gen Con has more than doubled in attendance. Year-over-year, Gen Con has experienced 9% attendance growth, primarily driven by 4-Day and Family Fun Day badge sales. Gen Con also has raised more than $38,500 for the convention’s Official 2015 Charity, The Julian Center. Gen Con 2015 also was the first time that the convention held more than 400 exhibiting companies and sold out the retailer-and-educator-focused Trade Day.

Gen Con isn’t the only convention growing at massive rates, according to ICv2 columnist Rob Salowitz:

I recently saw some industry research from the online ticketing and events service Eventbrite, Inc. that sized the fandom events market at about $600M domestically in ticket sales alone. If that is accurate, that represents about 80% of the comic publication market all-up (periodical, digital and graphic novel), which ICv2 pegged at about 750M in 2012. The old joke about there being more people going to Cons than buying comics? Funny because it’s true. Those big numbers don’t include the revenues generated at the cons themselves for exhibitors, vendors and D-listers selling signed 8x10s, or the ripple effect that they have on restaurants, hotels, taxis and retailers in the host cities. The organizers of the New York Comic-Con estimate their 2013 show, which drew 130,000 people, had a $70M impact on the city. Even in the Big Apple, that ain’t chopped liver.

Salowitz returned to the topic again, citing a paper by Eventbrite that reviewed 962 events across the United States. Of that audience, 25% were game-related, 23% anime, 18% sci-fi/fantasy, and 18% comic book. Of the other miscellaneous role-play-type events, cosplay was 1% and LARPs were 0%. More startlingly is the growth of these events, which have been tracking annually at between 20% to 30%, with a current average of 25%. This is big money for event organizers: Salowitz estimates the entire fandom event economy could be worth nearly $3 billion in North America alone. The potential billions from conventions has not gone unnoticed. Washington Senator Steve Hobbs explained in his attempt to lure Gen Con to his state:

These conventions are an economic windfall to the host city’s restaurants, hotels, and to the city itself. There are even businesses that rely on these conventions for their main source of revenue. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of nerds bring disposable income to these conventions. They want to spend that income on the latest card games, board games, rule books, figures, hotel rooms, and of course food and drink. They drive from all parts of the state and even come from out of state to spend a three day weekend rolling dice, role playing, and forgetting their mundane jobs in some high tech company.

Of course, the success of these large cons hinges on their exclusivity. And that’s where the "conpocalypse" looms, somewhere between when die-hard fans stop attending the big cons and the smaller cons begin to surge in popularity. Larger cons become hopelessly mired in their chosen cities, lumbering institutions incapable of adapting to change. What's a con to do?

[lq]And that’s where the "conpocalypse" looms, somewhere between when die-hard fans stop attending the big cons and the smaller cons begin to surge in popularity.[/lq]
[h=3]What Will We Do When We Run Out of Space?[/h]After the housing system collapsed last year under the load of so many attendees trying to book a hotel, Gen Con took steps to revise their system...and that system involved a large amount of randomization. In short, all customers who purchased eligible badges were randomly entered into a queue and then given access to the Housing Portal, one at a time. Gen Con claimed that these changes would:

...distribute the high demand on the Housing Portal over approximately one-to-two hours, instead of a minute or two as in previous years. While the new process may take customers slightly longer, a personal countdown timer will tell your exact entry time to the Housing Portal on your "My Housing" page. Access to the portal does not guarantee a downtown hotel room, but is intended to more smoothly distribute rooms throughout the entire housing block to interested parties.

The wait time was considerably longer than two hours, with wait times extending past two hours and 40 minutes. Marty Walser vented his frustration at Raging Owlbear:

As it turns out, while Gen Con does get a fair sized housing block, the downtown hotels hold back a lot of their inventory for themselves. The Gen Con block sold out within about the first hour, and yet there was plenty of downtown availability outside of the housing block if you were willing to pay $600 - $800 per night. Yep, hotel rooms that generally go for around $150 to $200 were priced 4 times higher (or more!) than usual during Gen Con if you reserved outside of the block (inside block pricing is about $180 - $250 per night depending upon how nice the hotel is). They know that gamers desperate enough to be near the convention center will pay ridiculous amounts.

The strain was visible at Gen Con 2015, enough for Milon Griepp of ICv2 to notice:

While the crowd was generally good-natured and Gen Con and convention center employees did a good job of keeping behavior reasonable, a safer way of handling the opening of the hall would be to have a queuing area. But that would take space that is not available in a maxed out convention center. The ReedPOP pop culture show C2E2 uses interior space in the mammoth McCormack Center in Chicago for its queuing area. San Diego Comic-Con creates temporary queuing areas under tents outside for its 6,000-seat Hall H, at times the most popular spot at the convention, and lines sometimes extend beyond the tents for another half mile along the waterfront (not a bad place to wait). But neither of those options is really available in Indianapolis right now due to a lack of space inside and unpredictable summer weather outside. That’s just one symptom of broader stresses.

According to Griepp, the convention center is now at maximum capacity, breaking records with over 400 exhibitors and over 15,000 gaming events. It's not just Gen Con. At Comic Con, ad rates, hotel rates, and the cost of food have spiraled upward (in some places, ten times the rate) to take advantage of a captive audience.
[h=3]Welcome to the Lottery[/h]The end result is that despite pleas for larger footprints, more hotels, and more restaurants, cons can’t adjust quickly enough and have instead begun restricting the attendees through a variety of ways. Comic-Con and Gen Con both adopted a randomized lottery in 2015. The lottery approach to hotels was not well-received by Gen Con attendees:

Some liked this new process, however, randomized access resulted in some individuals getting the reservations that they wanted, while some did not get their preferred choices. Gen Con will continue to explore options on how to improve and modify the Housing Registration process in future years. In any scenario, rising demand for downtown housing is growing faster than the amount of available properties.

The problem with the randomization is that if you ended up at the tail end of the access, your hotel choices were already limited. Or to put it another way, hotels available at two hours and 40 minutes later were still available days later -- once you were past the two hour mark, the odds of getting a hotel in downtown were minuscule at best. The end result is that a loyal fan wasn't able to get a ticket or even a room no matter how hard they tried:

Lines may still be first-come-first-serve, but autographs, purchases of SDCC-exclusive collectibles, and even parking and finding a hotel are in some cases done through a lottery system. Attendees put their name in if they want a chance at getting something signed or buying a new item, and they find out later whether they won or lost. It results in disappointments — someone told me they lost six lotteries the other year when trying to get Guillermo del Toro to sign their Pacific Rim poster — but it removes lines and fights and opens attendees up to actually experience the Con.

ICv2 reported
that the increasing battle for space has affected exhibitors at Gen Con as well:

For 2016, Gen Con took the controversial step of eliminating the on-site renewal option for companies with less than 30 “Priority Points,” the equivalent of three years of buying a 10’ x 10’ booth. Instead those companies will go into a different process in the fall, along with new companies that want to exhibit. This was causing considerable concern among newer companies who wanted to be sure they had a continuing presence at the show.

David Villegas at Gamer Nation Studios was one of those newer companies:

A single priority point is earned by paying $1200-$1800 for a single 10 foot by 10 foot booth. So, my company has 3. Others I know have less, a few have more. This represents a thinly veiled attempt to allow the largest vendors of the convention to book all the space they need or want, and leaves the indie publishers and small shops out until the cattle call that happens on-line, when hundreds of would be vendors will be seated at their computers furiously refreshing their computer screens to take the scraps that are left at the end or back of the exhibit hall in a mad rush that resembles the housing and event registration mayhem that also happens on-line and leaves hundreds of people screaming bloody murder each year. They get the last spaces if they are lucky enough to get in before the spots are sold out, of course.

Attendee and exhibitor tolerance may be a sliding scale depending on the age of the con-goer, with older con-goers unwilling to put up with some things that younger fans might tolerate; conversely, older con attendees tend to have more spending power and are willing to pay for premium access that the younger attendees might not be able to afford. The end result of democratization through lottery is that the established customers lose out. Fans may well be wondering if it’s all really worth it.

[lq]The end result of democratization through lottery is that the established customers lose out. Fans may well be wondering if it’s all really worth it.[/lq]
[h=3]Local Con Uprising[/h]
The answer seems to be smaller cons in more locations. Eventbrite’s latest survey indicates that fans prefer smaller, more general cons:

Given a choice between “fan events with a single focus (comics, games, sci-fi, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc.)” and “fan events that cover the whole pop culture spectrum,” fans prefer more general pop culture shows by a margin of more than 2-1. 42% of fans surveyed say that shows between 10,000-50,000 are just right. 37% prefer smaller than 10,000, 20% prefer bigger shows.

Even Comic Con is feeling the pinch:

Part of the challenge to the cultural hegemony of Comic-Con is the rise of other events. The comic convention scene is booming. I was at Denver Comic Con and Phoenix Comicon earlier this summer, and both cracked 100,000 attendees, which would have been unfathomable just a few years ago.

So how are the big cons responding to the overcrowding? New York Comic Con convention organizer Reed Pop dealt with its overstuffed attendance of over 133,000 (which strains the limits of the Javits Center) by broadening the scope to include a week-long series of over 100 events called Super Week in 2015. Reed Pop is expanding its reach to comic book conventions in Paris, Australia, and India. They even host a smaller convention during the summer that focuses solely on comic books, Special Edition: New York.

Gen Con tried this tactic in the 80s, scaling back from Gen Con SoCal (the last was in 2006), Gen Con East (the last in 1982), and Gen Con South (the last was in 1984). But instead of expanding to other cons in other states, Gen Con is doubling down on Indianapolis by expanding in the city -- plans that were briefly derailed over Indiana's controversial RFRA amendment. Gen Con Senior Marketing Manager Jake Theis spoke to ICv2 about Gen Con's space challenges and their plans to address it:

In terms of potential space to grow, just seeing the amount of renovation that they’ve done to downtown Indianapolis, with Lucas Oil coming online and Georgia Street expansion, it seems that Indianapolis’ ability to find interesting new space in the downtown is something that they’re very terrific at.

By WTHR's estimate it will take four years before Gen Con will be able to expand convention space into Lucas Oil Stadium and other hotel spaces. Gen Con isn't the only convention dealing with a surge of popularity. Comic-Con has started hosting events outside the Convention Center, including the Central Library, located past Tailgate Park. Like Gen Con, Comic Con is also doubling down on San Diego, but it is not without controversy:

A new 406,000 square-foot, $520 million expansion to the center was to be contiguous – built next to the existing center on San Diego Bay. Convention officials have paid a pretty penny to private leaseholders of the public property since 2008 to secure that site – known as Fifth Avenue Landing. The project was going to be funded by a hotel tax, but that plan was struck down last year because it was approved only by a group of hoteliers, not the general public. Now another piece of the puzzle, approval from the Coastal Commission, is facing a legal challenge that will likely continue for four to five years. The project is now money-less and still legally troubled.

For some conventions, attendance is going up but hotel use isn't. One possible reason? Airbnb:

Although hard evidence of the cause has been difficult to pinpoint, a consensus is forming among industry professionals that it's the sharing economy -- in this case alternative lodging sites such as VRBO, FlipKey, Craig's List and, most significantly, the fast-growing Airbnb -- that are drawing attendees away from more traditional lodging offered by typical hotel room blocks.

Airbnb was originally created back in 2007 to accommodate conference attendees precisely because local hotels ran out of space. There are risks to using Airbnb of course:

Seasoned Airbnb guests might understand that they're taking on some risks by booking outside of the block, in a neighborhood that might be removed from host hotels. But if a conference officially partners with the site, other attendees might not be so savvy.

Be it Airbnb or some other arrangement with local hotels and convention space, the big cons are going to have to come up with new ways to accommodate attendee growth or risk losing them to smaller conventions. Salkowitz thinks attempts to grow in one city is becoming unsustainable, particularly as conventions in general increase in number:

Indianapolis is scheduled for not less than ten conventions this year, ranging from the recently-completed Indiana Comic-Con to the big tabletop gaming show Gen Con over the summer. This has local media concerned about oversaturation, and they might be right to be concerned. Even the hardest core fans only have so much money and so much shelf space. With the mainstreaming of geek culture, we’ve seen that even small markets can sustain a big show or two per year, but five, six, or ten? That’s starting to feel like a bubble.

Is it a bubble? With conventions locking themselves in for the long term (Gen Con until 2020, San Diego Comic Con until 2018) it seems these cons are going to find out just how dedicated their fan base really is over the next three years.

Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, and communicator. You can follow him at Patreon.
 

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The magic number seems to be 50K. Once you exceed that, which Gen Con just did in 2015, people start to get annoyed.
Actually GenCon blew away 50K a few years ago. It's been over 60K last year and this year. (actual people badged for at least one day; they sold well over 150K worth of badge-days this year)
Vamypr3 said:
I've said before, and I'll say it again... it's time that Gen Con starts putting a "cap" on badges sold...
No. Just...no.

I'd rather not have my vacation plans decided by a screen-refresh race in late January. (or a lottery, if they go to that sort of system)

Lan-"loser of screen-refresh races since the dawn of history"-efan
 

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At Comic Con, ad rates, hotel rates, and the cost of food have spiraled upward (in some places, ten times the rate) to take advantage of a captive audience.
That link doesn't validate anything like you're suggesting with food costs in and around the con. I've gone a number of times over the past 15 years and have gone to the Gaslamp area outside of Comic-Con when the convention's not in town and don't recall seeing or hearing about any disparity. The Gaslamp is right next to the convention center and Petco Park, so prices are always higher than at some random strip mall, but this sort of gouging just isn't happening from what I can tell.
 

Koloth

First Post
I find it sad that Gen Con contributed only 62 cents per attendee to their designated charity. Seems rather small considering the list price for a four day badge was $90.

Another con that is getting close to out growing the available facilities is Dragoncon in Atlanta GA. The crowds look like the GenCon crowds and trying to actually attend a panel is problematic. At least for 2014, they had no way to pre schedule a panel. You just had to show up and hope there was room. Often, there wasn't and by the time you found out, too late to make a alternate panel. With the cost of attending a major convention in many cases being near $2000 after transport, lodging, badge and food, I think convention organizers need to worry less about growth and more about increasing the comfort and enjoyment of their current attendees.

We skipped Dragoncon this year and instead went to Conquest in Kansas City. About half the overall cost and every panel had space. As an added bonus, a scifi/fantasy art show running the same weekend did a co-op with Conquest and each honored the other's badges.
 

talien

Community Supporter
I'd rather not have my vacation plans decided by a screen-refresh race in late January. (or a lottery, if they go to that sort of system)

Lan-"loser of screen-refresh races since the dawn of history"-efan

The cap issue similar to problem with a lottery. People who used to the con every year give up after failing to get in once or twice (this is essentially happening now with hotels). New attendees don't mind because they just want to at least go once. This is the problem with large cons hitting their limits -- they begin cannibalizing their existing fanbase to accommodate new customers.
 

Badmike

First Post
I've been going to GenCon since 2001 (I know, I'm a youngster), and for quite awhile that was my only convention for the year that I attended - it was firing on all cylinders and had a strong RPG focus. However, for the past few years, I've been branching out - GaryCon is a fantastic small-ish con (getting bigger though) and though I hate the drive from Minnesota to Fort Wayne, IN, Winter Fantasy had a nice small intimate feel. Gamehole Con is a great one in Madison that's focused on RPGs, and Origins is becoming a more interesting draw than GenCon because of its focus. Next year I'm looking at possibly attending Con of the North here in Minnesota (which I haven't attended in almost 15 years), GaryCon, North Texas RPG Con, Origins, GenCon, Pacificon, PAX Prime, and Gamehole Con - but I can't make them all, and Indianapolis is definitely getting on my nerves as an attendee. I'm sure PAX Prime has its own share of issues too, but at least they'll be NEW issues (well, NEW to me at least).

Cons are a great part of the hobby that I hope continue for many many years to come, but it's becoming harder and harder to justify the cost - mental, physical, and monetary - of GenCon.

Thanks for listing us (NTRPG con) among the bigger and somewhat more popular cons, and considering attending. We are finding that there is definitely a market for smaller, more focused cons (our focus is pre-2000 RPGs, and our extensive special guest and event list reflects this) and had to actually cap pre-regs ourselves this year as demand overwhelmed the space we have available (30% increase over last year). The decision now is whether to find a bigger venue to accomodate more old-school gamers, or cap pre-regs and only take what we can handle. Garycon ran into a similar problem last year and has expanded for 2016 to the Grand Geneva; Gamehole Con has in Year Three already had to move from the Sheraton to the Alliant Center. So small cons are definitely dealing with the rising popularity of nostalgia-fueled gaming, but are more able to quicly adapt than the behemoths of the hobby, without losing focus on the #1 reason for attending....gaming. Resembling trade shows rather than gaming shows, the urge to make more profits has obscured the true reason for attending to the larger shows....gaming, meeting celebrities of the hobby, and buying/playing the latest creations of the genre.

My last year at Gen Con, attendence was 29,000. Now, not even a decade later, that amount has doubled and I find it hard to believe that with my increased age, lower mobility, and limited budget I'd be able to enjoy it the same way I did only a few years ago. Smaller cons, while also being easier to circumnavigate for gamers of a "certain age", are quite a bit easier on the pocketbook, leaving more funds for, you know, actual gaming purchases. When promoting North Texas RPG Con, we push the idea that flight to DFW airport (five minutes away from the hotel), along with discounted rooms, cheap food, and reasonable registration costs is turning out to be half the cost to travel to the big cons like DragonCon, Gencon, and Pax Prime. The question for us (and perhaps many smaller, regional cons) is at what point does the con change from a small intimate setting to a "big" con, and whether or not that is the type of con we want to run (and our guests want to attend).
 

North Texas RPG Con is a good one, and I'm grateful to have it in the Metroplex. I attended GaryCon once a few years ago and really enjoyed it, but I can't afford to do that very often. NTRPG is right in my backyard, and is well worth attending.
 

The magic number seems to be 50K. Once you exceed that, which Gen Con just did in 2015, people start to get annoyed.

The magic number is going to vary from convention to convention, of course, based on a number of factors.

I quit attending Dallas ComicCon (and related events) because the convention center they were using was far too small and poorly designed for the crowds they were getting. 10,000 attendees was pushing things, and 15,000 was pretty much stretched to the max. They kept using that facility after they had passed the 20,000 mark, and at that point it became too much of a hassle to attend, even though it was being held 15 miles from where I lived. Add to that the lack of close parking, EXTREMELY poor crowd control procedures (some of the worst I have ever seen), really bad volunteer training, hostile and arrogant owners, and substandard convention management overall and it had become a nightmare. They got bought out a year or two ago and moved their main summer convention to a bigger facility, but continue to hold their other ones in the old place, with all the same problems.

Texas Frightmare Weekend, in contrast, has done a good job of dealing with it's growth issues. Even when Dallas ComicCon was closer to the size of TFW, it wasn't run nearly so well.
 

Curmudjinn

Explorer
GenCon just needs to move to a larger city. With all of the huge venues, hotels and commerce right around Chicago's O'Hare airport, it seems like an obvious midwest central meeting hub. Especially with easy travel. Chicago 2021!

A huge complaint about Indy is simply getting there.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The last time I was at UK Games Expo in Birmingham was in 2014. It very much felt to be that the convention had outgrown the hotel. We had to get hotel rooms elsewhere and walk into the convention.
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
Epic
The problem in moving is the same that Gen Con has now and that is available rooms within a five to 10 minute walk of the convention center. I don't see that changing with location.
 

thzero

First Post
I finally have the time to go to the con, but I didn't want to get stuck in a hotel away from the venue.

Its not like Indy is Chicago where if you aren't close you are screwed. There are plenty of perimeter hotels available and getting downtown takes nothing.. again it ain't Chicago. Get it for those 8am games/etc and you can easily find space in the CircleJerk parking; granted 20 bucks a day... again better than Chicago. Now if someone isn't mobile or has other issues, yes that can be an issue.

Oh and Indy is NOT 'temporarily crammed with gamers'. Convention center might be (although the above pic isn't really that representative of what I saw between games), and yes the vendor floor was more crowded even though it was supposedly bigger than I've seen it in the past. Steak and shake may be, but uh yeah plenty of places around the immediate walking vicinity of the convention center with no gamers to very few gamers.

In the meanwhile, is there any way GenCon can get the downtown hotels to put more of their rooms into the housing block? I mean, I'm sure they'll get bought up too; it just seems dickish how much they charge.

It ain't just GenCon.. they do it for all events, even Indy and MotoGP which of course aren't held downtown.

GenCon just needs to move to a larger city. With all of the huge venues, hotels and commerce right around Chicago's O'Hare airport, it seems like an obvious midwest central meeting hub. Especially with easy travel. Chicago 2021!

Just say no. No. And no. And even more no. And I say that I live 15-30 (depending on traffic on the damnable I90) away from O'Hare.
 


talien

Community Supporter
If you are worried about hotel prices now, just move it to Chicago and see what happens.
I think the problem is that geek events are starting to eclipse, in terms of hotel spread/restaurants, other events in cities. Indy and MotoGP are different audiences with different incomes and mobility, as well as less interest in staying put during the entire event.

Check this out: http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar/blog...rting-events-in-the-country?urn=nascar,243650

Back in 2004 Indy was clocking nearly 300K. So why is the city having this problem?

My guess: Gen Con attendees show up, stay for most of the time, and aren't interested in traveling that much -- they may also not have all that much money to spend. This means Gen Con attendees "stick around" and stress the city's resources in ways other sport events don't.

I'm not sure ANY city could solve the problem by a move alone.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
The housing issues with Gen Con have always been a drag. I've been going to Gen Con since 1996, and it's always been a "first-come, first-served" race to book hotel rooms. I learned early on to always log in the instant it opened up (refreshing like mad if it wouldn't) and basically keep fighting my way to the front of the digital "line" to get a hotel that was within a couple blocks of the convention center.

It was an arduous process, but I could live with it since I usually got a hotel that was close enough. While it was a fight, what you got out of the system had some relevance to how hard you worked to get it.

That all changed when they introduced the lottery system this year. Leaving aside the bugs that let some people grab a hotel immediately if they bought a badge at the same time as a hotel room (instead of a couple days prior, like everyone else), the lottery system created a complete disconnect between effort and results. You could log in right when it opened and end up waiting only twenty minutes, or three hours.

The end result is that their "better" system was indeed more equal, but the equitable distribution of crap just means that you spread the crap around. I liked it better when I knew that working for it meant that I'd have at least some control over the outcome.

If there's only so much housing to go around, and it's for something that's a complete luxury like a convention, then I'm of the opinion that the hotels should be distributed via merit, rather than pure chance.
 

keterys

First Post
I've been going to Gen Con for, say, 25 years or so. Over time I've definitely changed what I do there, sometimes by choice / opportunity, and other times by necessity.

Nowadays I actually go a few days beforehand and play games with friends in a sorta con-before-the-con that is absolutely the highlight of my stay. During the con, I concentrate on trying to have cool meals with said friends and maybe wandering the dealer floor in manageable chunks.

I don't do big strings of games with friends during the actual convention anymore. It's too hard to get entire tables for our group, and honestly it's hard to agree on what to play as well.

I also don't worry as much about getting into newer and more interesting games or what look like the most awesome events. It's almost impossible to get into said events, especially more than 1 ticket; worse, it takes a bunch of work, monitoring, frustration dealing with internet woes, and luck.

I do think I'm going to switch from thinking about Gen Con as an RPG convention and switch to thinking of it more like a boardgame convention. I think I'll enjoy the event selection and dealer room better. It also makes the sleep deprivation less of a problem.
 

Janx

Hero
I find it sad that Gen Con contributed only 62 cents per attendee to their designated charity. Seems rather small considering the list price for a four day badge was $90.

Another con that is getting close to out growing the available facilities is Dragoncon in Atlanta GA. The crowds look like the GenCon crowds and trying to actually attend a panel is problematic. At least for 2014, they had no way to pre schedule a panel. You just had to show up and hope there was room. Often, there wasn't and by the time you found out, too late to make a alternate panel. With the cost of attending a major convention in many cases being near $2000 after transport, lodging, badge and food, I think convention organizers need to worry less about growth and more about increasing the comfort and enjoyment of their current attendees.

We skipped Dragoncon this year and instead went to Conquest in Kansas City. About half the overall cost and every panel had space. As an added bonus, a scifi/fantasy art show running the same weekend did a co-op with Conquest and each honored the other's badges.

I've never been to SanDiego ComicCon, GenCon or DragonCon, but based on their ballooning size, it was a foregone conclusion to me that there were problems.

I've done Houston's Comicpalooza and SpaceCityCon, and it's obvious from the lines to wait for a big panel, that you'll be missing a lot of convention, just getting in line early and waiting.

That seems to be the point from the article that the smaller cons are drawing some folks like me, though in turn, that makes them larger cons.
 

Janx

Hero
-- they may also not have all that much money to spend.


I'm going to call to question this point right here, because I've heard it about cons.

Though the stereotype of a gamer is a guy living in his parent's basement, I don't think that's the demographic who can even afford to consider a trip to another city with hotel stay.

Conventions are money makers because people with money to burn go to them. Those who don't stay home because they know they can't afford the gas, the room, the food, the products, etc.

I'm sure there's some folks who scrimped to get to GenCon and only have $5 when they get there for the entire time.

But those folks are a likely a minority or a kid. There's no way conventions would be successful if the majority of adults didn't have money to burn on stuff they didn't need.
 




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