You can see the release here.
The numbers offer an interesting comparison to 2019. I got the 2019 figures here.
This year there were "over 35,000" unique attendees. In 2019 there were "nearly 70,000". So there were a bit over half as many people this year. That seems in line with a stated attendance cap of "about 50%" (source here). I didn't hear anything about badges selling out, though, and one of the emails I got from Gen Con during the con stated that there were plenty of Sunday badges still available.
This year there were 320 exhibitors, versus 538 in 2019. During the con I noticed some booths that were empty, but still had a card with the name of the vendor on the back drape. Does anyone know if those would have been counted among the 320?
In any case, they were short over 200 vendors. And most of the replacement vendors had pretty small booths, while some of the missing companies typically had pretty big footprints. It's little wonder it seemed like there was a lot of unused space in the exhibit hall.
I find it interesting that the biggest drop was in events. In 2019 there were 19,600 events. In 2021 there were "more than 6,500" (just barely, I see 6,502 in an unfiltered search). So there were half the attendees, but a third of the events as 2019. No wonder it was hard to find events!
It's not really surprising that the event count was disproportionately low. Paizo and True Dungeon account for a lot of events. Independent GM's were shut out or forced to join together into larger groups. Some did join a group, but I'm sure some did not. And with reduced attendance and increased uncertainty it was no doubt difficult for some of the groups to find enough GM's.
Overall I didn't see anything too surprising in the press release. Rather, it reinforced the impressions I had of the convention with some solid numbers.
What do you think?
Pretty much agree.
Except I guess I am a bit surprised about exhibitors being that much different. Wasn't the space used pretty much the same other than about 1 missing row on the west end of the room?
There was quite a bit of space on the south side of the halls that wasn't used. It was behind a wall of pipe and drape so it wasn't obvious. And Hall K, the mask-free zone, would normally be part of the dealer hall too.
I was able to get a slice of pizza from a food truck in less than 5 minutes. It was like bizarro world! Overall, the convention still seemed lively, if smaller. I didn't see any tumbleweeds roll by.
I'm guessing it will take a few years for attendance to recover to 2019 levels.
I had a blast at Gen Con 2021, and I am so glad I went. I was actually able to comfortably walk the entire exhibit floor for the first time ever. I found lots of fun events and was able to fill my schedule with them. I also noticed that most events seemed to be taking generics.
If they told me that this is what Gen Con would be like in the future, I'd be disappointed at not seeing Paizo and True Dungeon again, but I would also be happy to attend for the rest of my life.
All the events I got into were fantastic. But finding interesting events was definitely harder. I wouldn't be up for a repeat of that.
There were things I missed this year. The Battletech pods were a big one, and I kinda played myself by skipping True Dungeon in 2019. The absence of stuff like strategic decision making games, and the lack of support for small/independent GMs was also felt.
As a response to having to live in interesting times, GenCon 2021 was a very good show, but if you told me that this was going to be GenCon forever I would admit disappointment. Not enough disappointment to stop going, though.
Yeah, I really don't want this to be how Gen Con is every year from now on. I want the big crowds of 2018 again, I want the consignment store and other used booksellers back, and I definitely want Paizo and the other big companies back running events.
I was just happy to have a Gen Con this year, but if things are mostly back to normal in 2022, I hope Gen Con is as well.
Let's hope for both.
I know that some of the new vendors had been on the waiting list for 5+ years. Personally, I hope that dropouts like Paizo go to the back of the line (especially if the alternative is cutting some vendors that DID come this year). But, I'm petty that way.
So from my understanding, if you saw booths that had names but were empty or just empty spaces that seemed out of place, those were the last, last-minute drop outs to the effect that replacements could not be obtained. I would very much like to see any of the small vendors who did show get priority, but I know they won't over the big named boys who skipped. It just wouldn't make sense to do that.
They stated 35k, but the numbers are smaller than that. I know this because that number they gave is based on the number of tickets that were sold and rolled over. I know many people who had tickets for this year rolled over, that just didn't come and took the hit. So if I personally know 6 people who did it, I am sure there are a lot of others who did as well. I would not be surprised if the actual number of people who showed up was on the 20-30k side.
The lack of events really did suck, but I managed to have a good time. It wasn't the best, but I am glad there was a in person con and that GenCon will continue existing.
P.S the short lines at food trucks was actually amazing.
One of the new exhibitors who had been on the waiting list for years told me that once you've been invited to have a booth at GenCon, you're pretty much "in" and your chances of being offered a space the following year goes up significantly. She did not seem concerned about being pushed back out next year by "bigger" exhibitors that passed on this year. A different "small" exhibitor who had maintained a booth for several years pretty much concurred with this. So even though the biggies will always have a place available at Gencon, it sounds like the smaller exhibitors who did attend this year will get to be near the front of the line for next year.
I agree with tdb that if I didn't know what was missing, I probably would have been perfectly happy, but if it was like this every year henceforth, I'd probably drop my attendance to once every few years. Just not enough events- I miss making my schedule and the manic nerd energy of previous years. If it wasn't for Gencon, Indy isn't exactly the place I would choose to spend 5 days of PTO.