Exactly right Aaron. And my line of thinking I'd that for a longer Con to do more for a company, they'd need those extra days to come with people who weren't there the first four days.
I mean, if your company hasn't made an impression on me in four days, it's just not going to in five or six either. Who knows though, maybe the whole pace of GC would change and I'd still be checking out the gall on day five. I'm skeptical though. No vendor I've ever met, and I've met a lot, wants to be there another day. Not one.
This is one of the things I enjoy about Origins more than GenCon. Wednesday is a great warm up day at Origins and you can get actual events on Wednesday. The hall isn't open, and I'm fine with that. That gives a great thing to explore on the second day, after you've already met some people and played some games.
I think "The Best Four Days in Gaming" is a bit of a misnomer, because there isn't much gaming going on on Sunday. It might be the "Best Three Days in Gaming... with an okay Fourth Day". Last days are always hard, I get that. But having more of a "soft open" sure would be nice.
I'm going to try to look for the KFG or something on Wednesday this year. I thought that they were a little hard to find last year. It seems like you have to be "in the know".
T-shirt sales, dice, leather goods, crafts, generic gaming stores with a wide selection (Gaming ETC., Star City, Troll & Toad), the artists, anime DVDs... They all show up to make $$$.
For a independent game store like Gaming ETC. to come to the convention year after year and buy such a large booth they must be making money - there simply can't be that much marketing benefit for a Massachusetts based game store repping at gencon to do this at a loss for marketing purposes.
I agree that some of the publishers might be losing money on their booths, but - on the other hand - WizKids stopped coming to GenCon in part because they had so many people lining up to buy stuff from them that they couldn't manage their line and it was bringing them into conflict with the GenCon policies about the show floor... So the publishers might be doing OK too.
mhayward1978, I don't doubt that companies SELL a lot of product at Gen Con, but what does it COST to sell products at Gen Con? When you include manufacturing, travel, housing, staffing, booth cost (including rental space, decoration costs, etc.), advertising, etc, how much PROFIT does a company make for each item sold at Gen Con? If you have to pay $3k for a booth at Gen Con and you only make $5/item profit normally, you would have to sell 600 of the items just to break even for your booth cost alone. Your profit decreases even more per item when you factor in all the other stuff that goes into the Convention requiring the need to sell even more items in order to break even. So again, it's not what the items you carry to Gen Con sell for while at the convention, it's how much do you actually MAKE, and I would still bet that most if not all companies lose money when comparing sales at the convention to cost of being at the convention. But that's ok. Companies budget for this kind of stuff knowing that the larger payoff will be down the line.
The claim was never that no one makes money at GenCon. The claim is that small game companies generally do not. I even gave the examples of MtG and t shirt companies above as booths that make money.
Every year I show up and leave on Monday feeling kind of feeling cheated that I did not get enough bang for the buck on the Sunday. EVERY year, I wish events ran a little later into the evening, or at least minimum until 6pm; in some way, shape, or form.
I mostly do RPGs these days, but I'd rather not hear the argument of: get your own group together and find a place to game somewhere on Sundays after the con to make it all better -- I feel that's what I was spending my money for Gen Con to promote in the first place (ALL four days -- not half days). If Gen Con could provide the environment for actual gaming to continue on the Sunday (preferably until 8pm or 9pm) it would do wonders for the rest of us who are actually trying to stay and enjoy the Sunday. Maybe do some sort of thing like they do for the Wednesday evening before the convention in a limited way as a trial run.
All the other arguments about dealer hall issues, people leaving early issues, no show issues, ...stem from the fact that as an attendee you can only schedule a couple of events at most on Sundays so no one takes it seriously. Most people sleep in and think they might as well just skip out and go home early. Just the way I have been seeing it.
Gen Con should drop all of the side distractions after 4pm, and keep some strictly gaming areas open for events later in the day and I think you'd see a significantly marked improvement overall on the Sunday.
I'll give you a sample of how my Sunday goes every year as an example in order:
------I sleep in until a least 9am or 10am (depending on when the events I'm attending are held). I'm burned out from the rest of the convention, but I've got enough energy for later in the day as I go.
------I plan for 1 RPG event in the day (most run in 4hr or 6hr blocks of time). Since getting up at 7am to try and squeeze a second RPG event in for 8am would kill me and I'd have no final vendor hall time, I'll have to stick with just one RPG event.
------Then I'd do a final run of the vendor hall before 4pm.
------Then I stick my thumb up my bum after 4pm wishing that I could get into one more official Gen Con RPG event somewhere.
Pretty much like clockwork. -- Every. Single. Year. Man...
(* Just to note, that this is not meant as an attack/flame on Gen Con from me, just my personal observation that never seems to change. I don't need another day added onto Gen Con, but at least extend the actual Sunday gaming event times later into the day to some degree to take full advantage of it. That's all.)
I would hope/imagine that most companies write off the cost of travel and a booth as a tax deductible Business Expense. I know I have on occasion scheduled meetings around attending conventions or events and was able to at least write off some on the Mileage or cost of a flight.
I think there is a very good case that considering a booth at Gen Con a marketing move with a good return on investment. I know I have made a few purchases over the last week from just looking at who is in the exhibit hall.
I would like a longer con but I am in a position to take advantage of that I am a salaried employee with the ability to telecommute. Gen Con could last a month and I wouldn't have to worry about vacation time or missing hours etc...
I think the other side of that is that if the convention were to expand then the price would have to go up per day on the badge and maybe even on events too. Would we want a 6 or 7 day convention where the badge price was $50, $75 or $100 a day? Would people pay $5 an hour for event tickets? Again I am in a position today where this would not be a problem for me but in my early 20s that would have priced me out. If the cost rises to where a large percentage of people can only attend 2-4 days of the convention was there a point in extending it?
Solid point to about taxes, Colin. I think the problem for smaller companies though is that the people who own and run the companies often have day jobs. That, and writing off isn't the same thing as being able to afford it in the first place :)
Even the bigger companies have booths often staffed by volunteers or part time people...with day jobs.
There's also the added factor I've mentioned above of stress. Running a booth at a Con this big is incredibly stressful. Just attending Gencon has many people crashing for days after. Then make it your job, whole different story.
I'm not saying some, maybe even many, wouldn't be open to it. But many won't. They also, I just realized I haven't mentioned yet, often have other cons to go home and prepare for. Spending time at home before heading off on the road again. It's not a simple thing.
I completely agree that showing up for a longer con would put some stress on a lot of the vendors maybe having a day or so without the exhibit hall would be okay IE. Con starts on Monday Exhibit Hall opens on Wednesday. Still plenty of Entertainment/RPG/BGM events to go around. This might even help out because it would even out the competition for time. Seems like this year a lot of things I want to do happen in the same time slot so I am juggling a lot of things and the Exhibit hall isn't going to get as much time as I would like but if I had a couple of more days to work with I might devout one of those to just the exhibit hall and demoing games there as the mood strikes me.
I would say you could have vendors not be required to have a booth for the entire length of the con but no one would want to miss the Friday and Saturday sells since I would imagine no matter what those would be the days with highest attendance.
I think all in all that extending Gen Con might not be worth the returns for all but a few of us who would be able to take advantage of the extra time. Once you start running the numbers and tacking on additional hotel nights at $200 to $400 a night, coupled with what would have to be at least a raise in badge prices it starts to move the Con out of range for some people and that would be a shame.
Now I would really like to see Wednesday and Sunday become full fledged days kicking off Wednesday Morning and ending much later on Sunday. I think that would be the most doable approach to extending the Con to The Best 5 Days in Gaming.
Wow thanks for all the response to my post! Some really great points and discussion.
For me I would like to either see official gaming space on Wednesday and/or Sunday running until late. I fly from the west coast to attend GenCon and Sunday being basically a one-event and head to the airport since I can't plan for anything type deal make the day not feel worth it. Essentially the con feels (and I suppose is) 3 and 1/2 days of gaming and either getting more RPG/board game sessions with set events and places to play on Wed or Sunday would be a huge boon for me and hopefully many others.
For those who host in brewery or restaurants or whatever I'm not interested in that as I don't like super loud spaces when trying to game in general, as much fun as it may be. I'd much prefer some RPG with a smaller group where I can actually hear.
I don't really have much of an opinion about the vendors, sales booths, or vendor hall extended time. I'd be willing to pay extra for a Wednesday or "all days" access badge if it meant more guaranteed spots to game. I just want spaces to game with set events I can purchase to play or run them ultimately.
I am all for expanding GENCON. As a local of Indianapolis, it is a WIN WIN for me. It increases the economic impact for the City, local restaurants and hotels as well as scratching more of the gamer itch I have around that time. My one question though is it GENCON limiting access to gaming on Wednesday Night and Sunday or lack of participation on people willing to run. This was my first year to attempt to run a game at the convention, I chose Wednesday night thinking even if I run a crappy game at least it was free. I put in for my event and was good to go. Did I win some strange lotto or were people just not posting to run games that night? The same for Sunday. Are people running those days getting rejected to run because of space issues or are the GM's just not there to support gaming then?
I think there is very much a lack of participation on Wednesday and Sunday. Part of that is because Gen Con isn't officially started on Wednesday and it ends at 4pm on Sunday. I think if it kicked off on Wednesday morning and ran through Sunday evening maybe an 8pm or 10pm end time that you would see more events on those days.
All of this is of course with the caveat that time is money. So the more time we get the more we would probably end up paying.
The vendor hall is still tricky, and would probably be best for many reasons to keep it as it is. That would make Wed about the gaming, make us old skool types happy. It would also keep vendors happy, a lot of them.
Having the hall open but letting vendors not staff their booths the whole time won't happen, I'm fairly certain of that. Gencon is adamant that if you have a booth, you will be there while the hall is open, no exceptions. Their perspective, and there's reliable marketing data behind this, is that empty booths make people think 'empty hall', regardless of how many full booths there are. So I don't see Gencon letting vendors come for only part of the time the hall is open.
I guess, just rampant speculation, if the hall was open five days, they *might* in some alternate world allow one vendor to be in a given booth for three days, and another for two. Maybe. From what I was told when I was in my own booth, it's the empty booths that are verboten.
I do Trade Day stuff on Wednesday, so it's already a full day for me. It would be nice if there were some open gaming areas available Wednesday, especially in the evening. My friends and I are often hunting for some space to set up a board or card game that evening.
Sunday, I think, is victim to "last day syndrome." Whatever day is the last day is going to have people going home early and just less activity in general. Sunday has actually improved significantly in recent years due to the family pass. Personally, my wife and I tend to leave by about 2-3 PM on Sunday. By that time we're tired, we miss our kitties and we want to get home and rest.
Expanding into Wed is really necessary for the overall health of the convention. Most other conventions already use this model.
I seriously question the assertion that most other conventions open on Wednesday and run through Sunday. With the exception of Origins, I really don't know of any that do that, and no examples have been provided to support this statement.
We do have limited space on Wednesday for fans to run games, and I think we have had to occasionally turn down Wednesday submitted events; as far as I know those have generally been because of the type of event, such as a seminar, that we just don't have room for that day.
As for Sunday, as far as I know no one has been rejected due to space considerations. We usually have plenty of space for events on Sunday, and those can run until 5pm. We've done some things to encourage Sunday games, including that GMs can request them to be set to be free, but I do agree it can be problematic; people don't want to stay late because they don't find enough games, and if people don't stay late, they can't run games. I'd love to see more people stay and run and play games later on Sunday.
Gen Con LLC
Origins Game Fair
World Board Gaming Championship
Dice Tower Con
I'm not including PAX in this list since its very video game focused. I understand that opening the dealers hall Wed night might have major logistical consequences. However, opening the event space, hosting "official" events, providing space for the library and other open gaming is something that other conventions already do.
Wednesday is the day that the exhibitors set up their booths, and all the loading dock doors are open to the outside.
As a result, they can't turn on the air conditioning inside the ICC, and nobody will want to play games in a hot, humid event space.
The temperature is hot on the exhibit floor, but its just fine in other areas of the ICC.