Monday, August 19, 2013

Gen Con 2013: The Dealer's Hall

Popping in some thoughts on Gen Con 2013 that I'll try to break into chunks that are related to one another.

+Mark CMG snagged some photos of the dealer's hall and I joked that it was more like a flea market. Only I wasn't really joking.

For years, decades even, the 'dealer's' has been less and less about publishers and more and more about stuff. Note I'm not putting this into a negative context as I bought a lot of that stuff myself.

However, with that change of focus, I have to wonder what the overall effects are?

For example, there are several resellers with prices better than the company. It's great to see Games Workshop at the convention. They also have a leg up on resellers in that they have Forge World items with them. However, it's going to be a tough sell if a buyer knows across the way they're selling GW stuff for 30%, wait it's Sunday? I mean 35% off. There were also booths selling books three for $10 or buy one get three free.

And this isn't necessarily 'old stuff' either. I wouldn't place money on it, but I could have sworn I saw a few booths selling the new Wyrd boxed sets for the 2e game at 20% off on Thursday. Imagine that you are a game company and you came out with a game that you need to sell and there cutting you off at the knees are one of the stores you sell to. And trust me, there were multiple stores in the hall that were resellers. You can't necessarily say, "Hey dude, would you mind not selling this stuff here because you know, your space isn't as important as my space?" Probably not going to work.

And in terms of publisher woe, well.... When I've mentioned Kickstarters and gaming publishers, I have mentioned that I'm not surprised when something is late. I've mentioned that in many if not all Gen Con's I've been at, something happens that is not good for the publisher. Cubicle 7 took a beating from their printer this year on multiple books.

In terms of selling all you got... well, that can be a good thing or a bad ting. For one, gamers like the shiny and if your shiny isn't out when they want it because it sold out, there is zero guarantee they'll want it later when it's restocked. This happened to a few spots like Wyrd with the 2nd edition book of Malifaux or with Gale Force 9 and their Firefly game.

Gen Con exclusives are another reason I can see a game publisher actually going to the convention. Gale Force 9 had a dndnext adventure that looks like it was deliberately put together badly and is, in my opinion, hugely overpriced, while Privateer Press and Wyrd continue with their Gen Con limited edition miniatures. For Wyrd it's not that big a deal as they often have a 'general' release of whatever miniature it was that had a special edition at the con.

In terms of 'stuff', I personally bought some zombie styled dice and cards. Not a card game mind you, just cards. I also buy my g/f shirts ever year because she likes some of the art and prints.  Sometimes I'll snag her a hat or something else along those lines.

For credit card use, there were still a few booths that couldn't take a credit card. One company I wanted to buy from, GCT Studios, had a 'sweet spot' of $100 for two starter factions and the core book but only took cash. What type of expectation for cash carrying do companies have? "Well, everyone carries around a stack of hundred dolla bills no?

Another vendor who was selling Badger air brushes, would only allow people to use the card on Thursday through Saturday and only if they were doing a $40 or higher purchase.

People, you need to join the rest of us in the new era. When hot dog vendors are using square  and other solution providers to that and your solution is to stick your fingers in your ears...

Let me pick on GCT studios again for a second. Entrance into the show itself probably isn't cheap. Then you're from overseas. While I was standing at the booth, I saw at least two interested parties have to pass on a purchase. Ironically enough, if they stumbled upon the company's website, they COULD use a credit card to make a purchase. If you're not going to limit your sales online in terms of how you accept payment, why would you do that to yourself at a convention? Do you think the people walking through the booth are going to be like, "Man, they are financially wise by avoiding any transaction fees at all. Pure profit for them." or do you think they'll be like me and go, "Gee, the OSR booth takes credit cards and damn does that big frog demon from Center Stage Miniatures look sweet.

Another interesting thing was the fact that the guy from Badger was there at all. And he wasn't alone. The guys from Grex were there as well. This to me indicates a growing acknowledgement of the importance of Gen Con to those markets. I hope they both come back next year. Strangely enough, I didn't see any Scale75 sellers or AK Interactive sellers. I think that with stores like Games Plus there, that +RK Berry needs to get out there and provide some of those ranges, including Andrea, that just aren't being sold there.

In terms of the organization of the hall?

Whoever put the garbage cans in the middle of the aisles should be beaten.

The standard 'con' rules should be in place for the beating of stupid people. "I know foot traffic is going this way, but hey, I'm slender and this fifty pound back pack isn't going to hit anyone else when I fight against that flow."

"Hey, I know that people are trying to move, but shit, this is Larry here. Larry! I have to have a conversation with him straight in the middle of the hall. Screw common courtesy. That shit died in the 80's man."

"Listen, this tweet I received is very important and I have to stop. Come to a dead stop in the middle of the floor and look at it."

There were other sorts of behaviors I saw that were I a younger, angrier man might get me in trouble but those days are long over.

A good thing/bad thing about the acceptance of how far the hobby has come, is that there were a lot of people in various types of mobile devices. Some of these manual hand powered wheel chairs, one of them piloted by a woman whose speed and control of her vehicle was fantastic, and others, most others if not all others, using the electronic chairs. I don't begrudge anyone the right to come to the con and enjoy it. I do think however, that as the con grows and the need to accommodate these devices grow, that they need to expand the paths themselves if not the halls.

I also think that they need to increase the hours of the dealer's hall. While I know that sounds crazy to pretty much every person who works the hall the reality is with so many of the 'dealer's' not being publishers but being vendors and resellers to begin with, they'd probably be cool with it and it could help to alleviate the number of people in the hall at any one time. It could even increase sales. Crazy talk. That whole ending at 4:00 PM on Sunday thing? What the hell is that? When they first started doing that, did someone have to get to Church or was that the time they started legally selling beer?

I apologize for the ranting. Let me see if I can summarize.

1. Resellers are selling your stuff cheaper than you do.
2. Credit Card acceptance still not at 100%.
3. New types of vendors and sellers in the hall.
4.Lots of exclusive releases still hitting the dealer floors.
5.Lots of great deals on older games.

I'll be back with more thoughts after a LOT of sleep. I hope everyone had a great con. Were there any weird encounters at the convention? Any bits you think should have been better?