I'm just curious. I love wandering the dealer area and seeing all the games and games related stuff. I usually make a purchase or two, but I often read posts about people spending hundreds or thousands at Gen Con. Why not buy things over the internet or at your FLGS?
Sadly, we don't have a good local game store. Apart from GenCon, we do use the internet for the majority of our purchases.
I do an Excel sheet done up beforehand with titles and a comparison of prices from Amazon, CSI, and Miniatures Market.
We buy titles a few game systems in bulk at GenCon because they're the best prices we've found. We do the research beforehand, and have found this to be the best and most cost effective way to supply our group with games for gifts, personal use, and prizes for our gaming events.
The first year I went to Gen Con was also the same year my husband and I moved in together and bought a house, so we were just building up our board game collection. The FLGS in our area wasn't so much into stocking up board games, so for the first two years, we went a little nuts. We probably brought back between 30-45 games between the two of us during that time. Since then, we have found 3 FLGS in a larger city not too far from us that has decent prices, great selection and an online store so we actually don't buy as much as we used to.
My husband still buys a big chunk of the board games when we go down (14 last year (2 were pre orders) - he's getting better) while I picked up 7 (3 which were expansions to games we already owned). I actually find myself more interested in finding unique things at Gen Con - the yearly dragon shirt, the Privateer Press/RAM collaborations, Indie RPG games that are hard to find in Canada, etc. Even this year, I think unless something really grabs me, I won't be picking much for games. I am more interested in what sort of special Gen Con 50 items/exclusives will be out this year.
I'm O Christmas Geek (exactly what it sounds like, holiday stuff for our people) and people love to shop with me for mementos of the con.
I actually shop for my classes. I teach a course with a large probability element so I buy interesting dice and dice towers because my students get in a hurry and don't really do good rolls. I need to see something before I buy it. Dice towers are not carried in nearby game stores. I also love metal game tokens and coins and the best I've found are sold by folks outside the U.S. Again, I like to see them before I buy.
I usually spend a few hundred dollars in the exhibit hall.
I always buy dice every year (because it's GenCon, that's why), and I usually buy the dragon shirt, but beyond that, I look for things that I can't find in my local stores.
Last year I played demo games of the Lotus and Dreamwell card games, and bought them because I learned how to play from the designers, and I enjoyed having that connection to the games. (They're also small enough to fit in my suitcase for the plane ride home, which is important). I also bought a few small-press indie games with short print runs, and some metal coins with a cool box to put them in; unusual, eclectic things that are otherwise hard to get.
I wait until I get back to my FLGS to buy the big boardgames and RPG books.
For me, most of the purchases i make at gencon are out of necessity. Such as one year, i completely forgot my dice, so had to buy a set on my first break, luckily the DM on the table i played before that break happened, knew me well enough to let me use his till then.
OR the purchase is of an item i couldn't find in my FLGS... Such as one year i was really looking for a FR book, but not one of the 5 game stores in the town had it.. Gencon did though.
We love to find exclusives and deals, but we always check other prices online while we're there. Sometimes, if we don't save much online, we'll make the purchase just so we have it right there, especially if it's a game we've played at the con. The wife loves shopping all the crafts as well and a lot of that you can't get online, or can't find easily.
I fly in so it limits what I can purchase in the hall since I need to carry it back. I'm glad for the limitation as it makes me focus on what I really want.
I do enjoy walking the hall and checking out all the cool stuff. As others have posted, I'm more willing to pick up what is not readily available back home or on-line - Limited edition stuff...promos...hand made items...things like that.
I'm not a big fan of paying full retail for mass produced stuff that I can just order on-line for cheaper once I get home. I can sometimes talk myself into making exceptions for con specials or some limited package deals. I just need to consider if it's worth picking up at full price with the promos vs. on-line (but cheaper)without, later. I've not seen that many great deals the past several years, so on-line later often wins out.
As it stands, I pick up the Gen Con dice set, a shirt or two, and maybe a couple small items. For the rest, I just make a wish list for once I get home.
My wife and son usually pick up the advanced releases from FF (xwing much) and she likes the Gen Con exclusives (dice, t-shirts, etc.) We also try to pick up accessories for costumes as we don't have anything like those shops nearby, and we've been burned on an internet purchase before.
Two reasons for me:
Reasons I buy from the dealer's area:
Mostly new releases for me as well, especially things just released that I want to play at the con with my friends. Don't underestimate the lure of "have it right now" versus "have it in a few days cheaper." With some things (Fantasy Flight, I'm looking at you) it's either buy it at Gen Con or wait until October to get it.
Also, I budget a decent chunk of money for Gen Con. Anything I buy there can therefore be budgeted as a "vacation expense;" I therefore feel less guilty dropping $400 on games at the con than I would spending $350 on the exact same games at home. It's a bit irrational but it is what it is.
And, there are sometime con promos you only get by buying at Gen Con. That can be a pretty big lure if you're a completionist about games.
I usually spend a couple hundred.. I get the obvious dice ... dragon shirt... dice... I will then get a couple game pieces or other items that will just remind me of my yearly trip.
Then I may purchase a game if I demo it and love it. That's about all... Anything else would be an impulse buy.
My last year's purchases:
Tyrants of the Underdark (33% off)
Ascension: War of Shadows (33% off)
Ascension: War of Shadows playmat ($20)
Playing with the Ascension creators and having them SIGN the mat: Priceless (okay, $8...)
D&D 8' x 4' reusable playmat "damaged" ($95) still haven't found the defect yet.
Artwork, artwork, artwork (new artists I've never met before... find THAT on the internet)
Valley of the Kings: newest expansion ($20), got it signed by the game creator.
You can buy stuff at GenCon that you could get over the internet and at your LFGS but there is so much else to find at GenCon.
Oh,.... and the Consignment/Auction Hall.....
I'd say I buy at GenCon for one of a few reasons.
-That won't be out for the general public for another month or two
-That's out of print and can't be found online for less than a ridiculous price, nor at my FLGS
-That I'm not likely to ever see again (usually this is out of print stuff)
Our first year was last year, 2016. We spent a lot of time at Mayfair & got 50% tickets from their event. They also had a huge blowout sale with games $5-$10.
We picked up:
Agriocola: Family Edition 50%
Fight for Olympus
Nuns on the Run 50%
Oh My Goods
The Rivals for Catan Deluxe edition
The Rivals for Catan Age of Darkness
The Rivals for Catan Age of Enlightenment
Monuments Wonders of Antiquity
2 Dominion expansions on Sunday when a vendor was doing a big sale.
Oh Gnome You Don't from Gut Bustin' Games because the giant game looked fun. Also
Trailer Park Wars: Terror in the Trailer Park from them.
3 knit Pokeballs: Classic, Ultra, & Master. I missed out on the Great Ball. As well as a Yellow Yoshi Plush that I wanted. My goal is to buy a new Yoshi Color each year at Gen Con, but I may give in & buy a set on Amazon or Ebay.
I believe that is all we got there.
But...but...its right THERE!
There! -----> (shiny new released stuff)
Really I keep my purchases to a handful of new games, keep eyes out for awesome deals and The Perfect Mini tm.
I generally buy game related stuff but not games so like promos, mats, dice, dice trays, etc. I will also buy games sometimes that aren't sold through OLGS or FLGS. Fowers games come to mind of what I bought last year. That is really all I buy from the dealer hall anymore. I stay away from the new releases for the most part. I prefer reviews to come out before I buy them. I have demo'd a bunch of games that seemed good during the demo but weren't great when you play through the whole game. I do come home with a ton of new games though but most of those are from trades or online flea markets.
We generally don't shop at GenCon. It's so expensive to fly out to Indianapolis (more expensive fors us than flying across the entire country) and the hotel is not cheap either. We spend our money on airfare and hotel. Besides, since we fly, we don't have much room in our suitcases to bring things home. What we will do is look at a few things and them maybe buy online later on. We do get a number of free things (swag, tournament prizes, etc.) and I always leave a little room in our suitcases for that stuff. But rarely do we buy at GenCon.