Gen Con Online Draws Over 40,000 for Digital-Only Tabletop Convention


SEATTLE (August 3, 2020) — Gen Con, the largest and longest-running tabletop gaming convention in North America, held its first-ever online-only convention this past weekend, drawing more than 40,000 participants and featuring nearly 7,000 games and events. The Seattle-based organization announced in May the cancellation of its planned 2020 convention in Indianapolis due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19.

“The tabletop gaming industry and hobby run on the power of connecting with other human beings across a table. When we started planning Gen Con Online, we knew that the passion and enthusiasm of gamers wouldn’t change —but the table would have to,” said Gen Con President David Hoppe. “Pivoting from a physical convention to a digital one in on such a short timeline was difficult challenge, but it provided our team an opportunity to explore new tools and strategies for producing our event. And in the end, what made Gen Con Online come together and feel like Gen Con was, as always, our incredible attendees and the strength of our community.”

Gen Con Online kicked off with opening ceremonies at noon Eastern on July 30 and concluded at 8 pm Eastern on August 2. Event programming was conducted across numerous digital platforms, including Twitch, Discord, Zoom, Roll20, and several other virtual tabletop systems. Many fan-favorite Gen Con programs were adapted to the digital format, including the Film Festival, Costume Contest, First Exposure Playtest, the Dance, Block Party, BoardGameGeek Hot Games coverage, and Pin Bazaar enamel pin-trading.

Gen Con Online featured over 140 hours of livestreamed content across three Twitch channels, attracting more than 12,900 concurrent viewers at peak and a combined watch time of over 8.5 million minutes, more than double the number of minutes watched during Gen Con 2019. Streams included live gaming, demos of new releases, product announcements, live musical entertainment, miniature painting, and more.

Gen Con Online marked the debut of the Looking Glass, a web-based visual exhibit hall showcasing 474 publishers, artists, authors, and vendors. Over 41,000 unique visitors browsed the Looking Glass during the convention. The Gen Con Game Store, a new digital storefront, was launched in partnership with Publisher Services, Inc to offer newly released game titles.

A Discord server was launched as the central community hub for Gen Con Online, reaching a membership of nearly 7,500 users who sent over 36,000 messages during the convention. Gen Con announced on Sunday that the Discord server will remain open indefinitely and be adapted to a year-round community platform.

The convention also drew in increased international attendance, with event programming scheduled at all hours of the day and in several languages other than English.

“Thank you to Gen Con for putting on yet another fantastic show!” said Jeff Alvarez, President of Paizo, Inc. “Even in the face of an international pandemic, it was amazing to see the gaming community unite and support one another like they have over the last four days. Truly an awe-inspiring moment and we are already looking forward to next year’s show!”

Badges for Gen Con Online were free for all attendees, and a portion of the proceeds from tickets sold for individual games and events will be donated to I Need Diverse Games. Trinity Haven and Take This, announced as Gen Con’s 2020 charity partners, were featured participants of the online convention, and will return as official charity partners for Gen Con 2021.

Gen Con will return August 5-8, 2021.

About Gen Con

Gen Con is the largest and longest-running annual event devoted to tabletop gaming culture in North America. The convention, which began in 1968 in Lake Geneva, WI, attracts 70,000 attendees and over 520 exhibiting companies each year. During the convention, attendees choose from more than 20,000 ticketed events representing a wide array of board games, card games, roleplaying games, seminars, entertainment events, and more. Gen Con takes place each August in the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium, and surrounding downtown hotel spaces in Indianapolis, IN.

Media Contact for Gen Con

Stacia Kirby, (206) 363-1492, [email protected].