GenCon 09

Hey everyone! I’ll be at GenCon representing a couple of outlets this year and would love to see what’s going on with everyone. I know Slainte and I have discussed getting foods at the RAM. Anyone interested and if so what days?

I’ll be there.

I’m not going, but some of my sister’s art will be on display both at the IMoCA booth at Gencon, and in an exhibit at the museum itself.

Jason & Slainte - when would be good for a meetup?

Um, I’ll be there Friday and Saturday, but not sure how long either day. If we pick one, I’d be happy to stay around and meet up. Any thoughts?

My best night for any sort of get together would be Saturday night, although a lunch on Saturday would be OK too. Thursday & Friday days/evenings I am booked.

Saturday lunch could work for me as well, I think.

what time is good?

Doh! Sorry guys, I totally got overwhelmed this year and wouldn’t have been able to make any gatherings even if I had made plans. I’ve always gone to the con with a good friend, and this year another of our friends was flying in from CT to stay with us, and we were already supposed to meet up with some other friends who were vendors at the show this year. It was basically chaos for a schedule, half the time I was eating lunch at 11:00am or dinner at 8:00pm. On a side note, The Weber Grill has the nicest damn bathrooms on the planet.

I did manage to get some highlights in during my trip. The GenCon bash at the Union Station was pretty amazing this year, tons of people and a really cool setting. Making it a costume thing was a brilliant idea, I saw a lot of cool outfits and costumes (especially among the ladies). Hentai Dubbing made me laugh so hard I hurt afterwards. I saw some screamo band called Makeshift Prodigy play at an event for the release of some RPG called Brave New World. I hit a party at the Monkey Bar where there was a lot of very loud techno, some annoying DJs, some scantily clad ladies and a lot of very odd people mixed together. Fun times.

I have to say though, the con was really showing how hard the economic downturn has hit the industry. From big name companies like Wizards of the Coast that downsized their booths and gave away practically nothing in swag, to the lack of new products debuting this year, to the obvious major reduction in the number of companies and vendors attending overall (because many have folded, some can’t afford to come, and others have given up on GenCon) it’s obvious that GenCon is suffering along with the industry. In addition, the electronic games presence was almost an afterthought this year, smaller even that in the years before GenCon made a big deal out of including them. Bioware (Dragon Age), SOE, EA (the Hell game) and Warhammer (Mythic) were the only major electronic games booths, with a couple of smaller companies plying their wares as well. There couldn’t have been more than 8 booths total with electronic games. Gone was the DELL tour bus, the Blizzard booth, NCSoft, Atari and all the other vendors that have made appearences in year’s past. I’m sure having Comic Con and PAX bracketing GenCon by only a couple of weeks has a major impact on it’s ability to draw this segment, but it was more pathetic than ever this year.

And don’t forget Blizzcon as well, thats this week, I bet that doesn’t help, either.

I had a good time this year but was entirely busy the while time we were there. It was cool, though, because we managed some good video interviews for the site and I got to hang out with Bill Roper.

I spent a Gen Con one year hanging out with Bill, as well. Of course, back then, I was running a Warcraft 2 tournament in the “brand new” computer area, so he was pretty interested in what we were doing.

Paizo would like a word with you…

As would Catalyst (Eclipse Phase, limited to 25-30 a day) and Fantasy FLight Games (Sold out of Rogue Trader early friday morning)

I’m going to have to disagree with Slainte. I didn’t really see the downturn at all. Electronic games have never had a huge presence there, so I really don’t judge it on that. But beyond that, it seems to me that people were selling lots of stuff. Fantasy Flight sold tons of copies of their new games (Middle Earth Quest, BSG Pegasus, Battlelore Heroes, etc) as well as lots of their old stuff. Their cash register was continually busy. Paizo had a line out the door for copies of Pathfinder on day 1 and had steady business the rest of the time. It was rare to run across a completely dead booth during my 4 days there. If anything, it seemed busier than last year.

Jolly Blackburn, the head of Kenzer and COmpany (who had Hackmaster Basic out as well), posted on that the retailers came in expecting pretty much a blood bath, and were doing gangbuster sales.

I didn’t realize Pathfinder was new, I could have sworn I’d seen it the year before. I’ll retract my earlier statement about con debuts in light of Pathfinder and the other releases mentioned in this thread.

I still say it felt like a down year though, based in large part on the empty space that permeated the dealer hall.

In 2007 for example, they still had a temporary wall up between the dealer hall and what is now the art show space. The walled off area was used as a CCG hall for the con from 2003-2007. In 2007 there were so many companies and vendors in the dealer hall that they were putting up booths in the corners and at the ends of aisles trying to fit everyone in, and this was when the E-Games arena stuff and art show were still located outside the dealer hall. That year was the best year I’ve personally seen at the con.

In 2008 they relocated the CCG hall, and opened up the full main hall of the ICC to dealer booths. They also moved the art show and e-games arena into the main hall. That year saw WotC shrink the size of it’s booth considerably, adding even more space to the floor. Still, things seemed to be looking good, as almost all the space was utilized in some way.

This year, there was A LOT of unused space. Despite having the art show, e-games arena and Darkmoon Faire all inside the dealer hall, there was still vast tracts of unused space. A large section of unused space was behind the electronic games area, and another was used sporadically for a life-sized Magic card game hosted by WotC. Another big chunk was dedicated to the Cheese Weasel con games guys, which sat unused except at the end of the day giveaway each afternoon. Still more booths were simply empty in each aisle, and more free space existed on the aisles and the ends allowing for greater freedom of movement than in years past. All that empty space says to me that there were less overall vendors and companies in attendance than in previous years. The reduction in size of the electronic gaming contigent was only the most stark example of this effect.

A lot of this can be attributed to the economy. Smaller vendors and publishers have gone under or can’t afford the trip to the con this year. Some larger ones have cut way back (I’m looking at you WotC) or toned down their con presence. Others may have skipped in favor of Comic Con, PAX or another convention closer to home. It’s just that to me, having been to every Indy GenCon since 2003, this one felt half-empty. From the pathetic swag bag (a die, a pack of Magic cards and a bunch of ads), to the anorexic coupon book (I think 6 whole companies participated), to the overall lack of freebies in general (even for people who took the time to demo games), to the obvious empty space in the dealer hall, it just felt a little off. I sincerely hope next year sees an economic recovery and the return of a full and busy dealer hall.

They announced the Pathfinder RPG last March and did have a soft-cover beta version for sale (and a PDF of it for free) at GenCon 2008 so that’s probably what you are recalling.

Didn’t mean to give you a hard time. I was just excited about this GenCon because of that release (I’m a big fan of Paizo’s adventure paths) – hate that I missed it.