I've had a chance to go through the wishlist data from the opening of event registration in 2015 to look at what games were the most "in demand" - which in this context specifically refers to highest unserved demand: tickets that folks had in their wishists beyond what there was the scheduled capacity to actually fulfill.
This isn't a measure of overall number demand or actual players, it's just a look at how many people wanted tickets and simply couldn't get them.
There are many games that dominate Gen Con or the industry as a whole (Pathfinder and Magic, as two big examples) that aren't on this list simply because while there is huge demand for those games, there was also huge spply. Some official events (like D&D 5th edition run by Baldman Games) are also not in the list because they were their own event category or were specific to just that company.
So what we have is a list of games that had a lot of demand but relatively few events scheduled for them. If you are looking to run a game at Gen Con but aren't sure where to start, this list would be a good jumping-off point. Chances are if you run one of these games, you can count on your event filling up and maybe even having folks still showing up with generics and hoping for overflow. It's rather RPG-heavy, but that speaks more to the particular habits of RPG players than anything else, I think.
There are some weird artifacts in the raw data because there are many different ways to list game system and rules edition for many games at Gen Con, so the list should not be taken are gospel or an objective measure of popularity.
Don't use this list to argue the merits of one game vs another - every game on this list has way more people who want to play it than could, and that should be enough for us all to have fun playing more games.
Gen Con LLC
My unscientific estimate based on how many complaints I've seen would indicate that Cthulhu is desperately wanted.
And here's something that's harder to judge, but, RPGs that have really interesting topical themes that have large rabid fanbases; so, My Little Pony, Scooby Doo, Dr. Who, Big Bng Theory; something that uses characters from current pop culture.
That list certainly captures many of the RPGs my group has tried to play at Gen Con over the past five years and failed to land a ticket.
Some in particular are no surprise - practically no tables are run of RPGs such as The One Ring, for example. Or, Star Wars, where Fantasy Flight doesn't really support it at the show in terms of recruiting DMs... despite demand.
Others are a bit more of a surprise. Shadowrun has a large presence and a reputation for seating people one way or another (getting established players to volunteer DMing, for example). I wonder if the demand is for a specific facet, such as 'learn to play'?
It is maybe worth emphasizing that this list represents a potentially huge lost opportunity for companies. We've had years where we were really ready to be sold on a game, didn't have the time or inclination to take the plunge at home, and this was our chance to be won over... but we couldn't land a table to try the game. That's where learn-to-play run by the company (or the company finding great DMs) is really important and can lead to sales.
Last bit I'll say is I've seen companies bring in friends... who then run the game for friends. Or, companies that get people that backed the Kickstarter (or are otherwise already sold on the game) to fill the tables. That's not what these companies need.
As an FYI, as the publisher of Eclipse Phase: if you're interested in running it at Gen Con, please get in touch with us at [email protected] We pay our convention GMs cash money for their time, and try to throw in some other goodies, too.
A compelling event is always a compelling event, whatever system it's run in.
Gen Con LLC
Looking at just events that had 10 or more unserved tickets, there were a number of learn-to-play events, but the bulk were actually perfectly normal events.
My guess would be lots of people love Shadowrun (no surprise there) and simply don't have the chance to play at home, for whatever reason.
Gen Con LLC
Maybe if you created a forum thread calling for GMs, outlining what you are looking for, what you are offering, and how to get involved?
Also, keep in mind that if folks are running official events for you, we want all those games submitted under your company's account, not their own. Further, a company directly paying a GM to run events disqualifies them from hotel reimbursement. It's cool to see a company supporting their GMs, but we've got to walk a very clear line about hotel reimbursement for companies and demo events.
I would be curious how Eclipse Phase compares to other "underserved" RPGs on the list. I've played Eclipse Phase at 4 of the 5 last Gen Cons, and our group has managed to land a table every time we tried (using the Waitlist for various different slots and usually landing one or two out of maybe five we tried for). It seems to me that EP is fairly well served, but maybe our group has just been lucky. How do the numbers of tables compare to those from other companies on the list, I wonder? Posthuman strikes me as a company that "gets it" that Gen Con is important and they work to find DMs and set up tables. I don't think others on the list do so that well... how do we get those companies to see the light?
There are definitely some order of magnitude steps along the list, but for the most part games are about as in-demand as their neighbors on that list. There are defintiely some high-demand games (like Catan) where the final fill rate is actualy relatively low, but those are exceptions, at least on this list.
I'm hesitant to release straight-up numbers, but I can of course provide wishlist data for any company who wants to look at their own events.
Great info, thanks!! I've run Firefly (board game) for 2 years and personally know people who haven't gotten in, so definitely agree there. Good to learn Waterdeep is there as it's a new fave of mine so I will run that next year as well. Catan surprises me but then there are tons of different versions so I guess it could add up.
One of my volunteer GMs got a message about Mutants & Masterminds. :) I'm trying to coordinate more volunteers to run M&M games (and Song of Ice & Fire, Titansgrave, Dragon Age...basically, all Green Ronin Publishing games.
If you are interested, drop me an email at [email protected] and we can chat about it. We want to get badges and also some other faboo perks for you.
Cool - if you're specifically looking for recruitment, you might want to check out this thread about a plan I have for that and chime in, or start a thread on what you need and how folks should get involved.
Neat to see this list as well.
On the RPG side I'm a bit surprised at how many are for current/available properties vs. older ones, but I guess I shouldn't be. I'm not surprised at all that the then-current hotness was in demand for board and card games, and RPGs shouldn't be that different.
Re: Shadowrun, my question would be whether there's a skew towards or against Shadowrun Missions (Organized Play). I suppose you'd need to compare Missions vs. Learn-to-Play vs. others, though.
It's good to know there's still demand for Paranoia. ;)
Remember that this list is not a measure of overall game popularity, just current unserved demand. I would expect this to be skewed more toward the current hotness, in most cases.
Older, more established games quite possibly have more actual players, but they're also more likely to have more GMs running those events and to have reached some sort of equilibrium of supply and demand.
Newer games haven't had time to filter out and get more comfortable with everyone to get more GMs, or to have groups form around them to help meet some of that demand.
As for Shadowrun, I did a very cursory look at their events and I didn't see any obvious pattern in OP vs intro games. Interest in individual events seemed somewhat random (when taking out premier stuff that would naturally have high demand), so I'd have to dig further to try to figure out where the demand is coming from, and I'm not sure it's worth my time to figure out what specific kind of Shadowrun events attendees wanted - chances are Catalyst has a better idea of that just from dealing with players in person on site, and I'm certainly not going to dictate to them the kind of schedule they should be running.
Broadly, I'm happy to provide wishlist data and suggestions, but I stop short of telling a group or company how to run their schedule at the show. They're the ones dealing with it and with players, so I almost always err on the side of they have a better grasp of the "on the ground" realities than I do.
Gen Con will put limits on growth or scheduling to say that a group or company can only use so many tables at a given time or if a group wants to grow by a certain amount they will need to address some other scheduling concerns in some way - or even put requirements that if they want to run a certain type of event it must be done a certain way, but we don't ever really tell anyone "This is your scheduel."
I run Call of Cthulhu for a group. Problem I have is games sell out and then a few games I have ticket people then I have one ticket and the some generics. OK people who sign up need to show up. I have run a game two years ago three people with generics No Tickets! !!!!!! This past year a friend running a game I showed to play and two others in an 8 player 6pm Thursday Cthulhu we had generics. No ticket people showed.
I feel your pain. I have had a number of events fill out and no one has shown. This phenomenon grew exponentially worse when Gen Con came up with the brilliant (note the sarcasm) idea of allowing players to use event tickets as generics. So I, as a GM, spends hours preparing to run a game, believe that I will have a table of players; but because they got distracted, cannot run the session. It gets worse when one person shows and I have to cancel, because of no shows. On the back side, there were probably players who wanted to play, but saw the event as being full, so they could not get tickets and decided on another game.
For as badly as Gen Con wants/needs GMs, they certainly do a piss poor job of supporting us.
I have cut way back on how much I run because of this. And I warn people who ask me about GMing at Gen Con about this. Seeing your event registrations fill up is a wonderful thing. But the discouragement is more so when none of them show up. I have been fortunate that I GM'd before the dumb policy was put in place. So I understand the excitement when a good session is run at Gen Con. For new GMs, though, it could be a one year deal if they go through what CJRucks and I (and probably many more) have gone though. And I wouldn't blame them for not running at Gen Con in future years.
I've only been attending for the last two years so I can't refute your claim that the problem increased when event tickets could be used as generics, but I don't think it is as simple as that. Compared to most peoples total gen con spending a two or four dollar event ticket is nothing. Especially since you paid for it seven months before the convention even started. I missed several events last year due to a family members flight in getting totally messed up by weather one day, and getting half way to Indy another (I commute the 60 miles from home) and realizing I didn't have my badge. So things happen, and none of those missed event tickets were used as generics.
I agree that "stuff comes up". And that happened before the policy came into practice. But those were the rare exception to the rule. However, when you look at the big picture and the trends, the policy (as you even say) had a negative effect on the registered to play ratio. Unfortunately, I only have empiracle data to go on. My footing is on the number of independent (people who I don't know) confirmations of the theory.
I don't begrudge people changing their mind about what to attend. But I do not think there is an efficient way to deal with that. Perhaps an electronic solution?
Is there a 24 hour GM support area where I can let them know a session did not make due to no-shows? It is annoying that I have to plan to spend time the next day to go to a location in order to report something that happened last night. I tend to run night games.
There also needs to be some awareness on the players' part as to the affects of them not showing means. Yes - I realize this is supposed to be a fun event. But there has to be some respect given to people running a session as much as to the people who show (I am talking to you no show GMs). Our hobby is a social one and can rarely be run with two people. If 3 out of 5 people do not show, then the two people and the GM cannot play. Those three people have ruined an experience for the other three people. They can all go find something else to do, but that is not the point. They were there ready to play a game and the other people who got distracted prevented that from happening.
NScott - I realize that things happen that are out of your control. This is not directed at you or your situation. I can see one person or a group of people at one slot who had something dire happen. But this is happening too frequently for it to be a situational cause.
I really do not want this to become the gaming police; and, honestly, the fact that this is occurring reveals a sad state of our community. But it all comes back to respecting one another. If you want to do a different event, then fine. Please go turn in the ticket so someone else who is trying to find something can get into the event.
Gen Con - Please find some way to handle turning in tickets easier. The lines I have seen to do so get to be ridiculously long to the point where I am not surprised people don't want to stand in them.