Top 5 and Bottom 5 from Gen Con 2017
The dust has settled and the population of Indianapolis has returned to normal after Gen Con 2017 has come to a close. I got to spend four fun filled days of seeing new games, talking to publishers, other media folks, and most importantly seeing friends. Today, I will give you a top and bottom 5 from Gen Con this year.
Top 5 From Gen Con 2017
1. Exhibit hall wasn’t as crowded as I expected.
With it being the 50th Gen Con, I expected the exhibit hall to be packed to the gills with people trying to maneuver around the different booths. To my surprise, this wasn’t the case at all. Sure it was still more crowded then I would like, but it didn’t seem any worse than in years past. I think utilizing the field at Lucas Oil stadium helped with that and I hope they do it in future years.
2. The Rio Grande and Mayday Game areas
Both of these publishers have their own dedicated space outside the main exhibit hall dedicated to their games. These free area gives people the chance to learn how a game is played before they make the decision to buy. I wish more publishers would go this route and give players a true opportunity to set up and learn a game in this environment. I’m more partial to the Rio Grande booth because I enjoy more of their games. Plus, the free softdrinks and breakfast food doesn’t hurt either.
3. The City of Indianapolis
One of the joys of going to Gen Con is the fact that I get to spend time in downtown Indianapolis. With our hotel being near the airport, we got to see a little more than normal and I actually enjoyed that quite a bit. My roommates and I decided to try a few new places for food this year and found three places that we can’t wait to go back again. The food was great, but what was even better was the interactions with the people at the restaurants. Warm and welcoming makes it feel like a second home.
4. Lines maintenance
Shocking to find this on my positive list but I thought the management of lines both inside and outside the hall were excellent this year. While there were lines in the exhibit hall, booths did there best to manage the crowd so they wouldn’t be a major issue. But more amazing this was the lack of length of the will call line. In years past, the line would stretch for over a quarter mile as people were waiting to get their badges and event tickets. I don’t know what changed from previous years, but I never saw the line come anywhere close to that. I spent less than three minutes getting my event tickets this year which compared to last years ninety minutes is an amazing improvement.
5. Finding the right balance
My Gen Con experience in previous years has been inconsistent. One year I spent way too much time in the dealer hall and the next I filled it with too many events. I couldn’t find what worked best for me until this year. I found spending a few hours in the crowd in the exhibit hall, sprinkle in a few events and then an evening of gaming allowed for me to have my best Gen Con experience despite not staying at a hotel downtown.
Bottom 5 from Gen Con 2017
1. New releases lacked firepower
I don’t know what it was about this Gen Con, but the selection of new games didn’t seem to measure up to years past. I’m not saying that the games released were bad, it just didn’t seem to have as high of number of amazing games this year. I think this is indicative of 2017 releases in general, which seems to not measure up to the last few years.
2. Exhibitors need to sell their games better
Too often I would walk up to a booth and feel that the person working the booth would rather be almost anywhere else. I know that working a booth isn’t the most exciting experience and is quite exhausting, but you have to still inform and engaged with the potential customer. Also, I feel there needs to be an improvement on how to demo or explain a game. Starting with an thirty second elevator pitch then a quick explanation of the game mechanics. This will get more people in and out of the booth and able to make a decision to buy what you are selling.
3. Need more publisher preorders
I think this is one of the smartest things for publishers to do for major conventions. Have people commit to purchasing your game upfront before and deliver at the convention. This allows the attendees to not have fight through the horde each morning trying to get to the booth to get the few copies available. The is advantageous to the publishers as well because they have some idea of how many games to bring and I’m not annoyed. It’s a win-win-win scenario.
4. No swag bag
While you get plenty of gaming bags from the publishers after we have purchased a game, I’m still sad to see Gen Con go away from an official bag and the decent selection of free swag with in. They do provide a coupon book for venders in the hall, but I love using my Gen Con 2014 shoulder bag whenever a lug games to game night.
5. Policy to pay up to get preferential treatment
Gen Con has a VIG (Very Important Gamer) option where people can pay more to get a few perks. This is great for the people that can shell out the extra money but it does hurt the normal attendee. Rooms are booked earlier for them and VIGs get into the hall an hour early the first day. This normally isn’t a big deal, but when publishers have limited amount of copies of a game they can be sold out before the rest of the attendees even get into the dealer hall.
Those are my high and lows from Gen Con 2017. Is there anything I missed? Leave a comment below to let me know.