I got tickets to NY Comic Con…
On 5/13 at 12 EDT, tickets to NYCC went on sale. My friends and I were able to score Ultimate Access tickets to the event. I personally did not buy them because I was stuck in the queue for over 3 hours before I was allowed to purchase anything at which point most tickets were sold out. I have a love / hate relationship with this event. This isn’t a rant about all that I hate about it. There’s a lot that’s great. I just want to share my observations of going to this particular con since the third iteration in 2008 (I was overseas for the first two).
First, there’s a lot to love about the event. It’s huge in attendance. 2014 saw more people than San Diego Comic Con. Over the course of four days, there were 151,000 attendees. That could be seen as a good or bad depending on your perspective of enthusiasm or overcrowding, but it’s fun to be at a high energy event surrounded by like minded nerds in what I think is the best city in the world (Note: I’m a biased native New Yorker). Major events have been pretty cool, from Walking Dead panels with the cast to my favorite so far, a reunion panel with some of the Firefly cast. Adult Swim panels are always a blast and there’s a bunch of cool screenings that usually happen. The dealer floor is huge although after decades of going to con’s, I’m past the point where I see the same booths with the same merch. It’s still fun and I still spend my hard earned money on stuff I don’t need. The food got much better in 2014 when Reed Exhibitions decided to give space out front to food trucks. The bathrooms are not too bad. I actually like the idea of tiered badges unlike how San Diego does its tickets. I’m a firm believer of free market forces especially in smaller microcosms like cons. How this translates into our national economy is a conversation that’s off topic for this rant… All in all, it’s a pretty great event. I have fun every year and I’m stoked about 2015’s event.
For those that know about the event, you should know that buying tickets has gotten much, much worse over the years. It’s been a debacle for years and the ire has been blasted on Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets. T
I have a few gripes, but it draws a lot of teeth gnashing and deep seated anger. For those that know about the event, you should know that buying tickets has gotten much, much worse over the years. You would think that Reed would get smarter about it with growth projections as well as experience (they also do C2E2, which is why NYCC was moved to October from the original earlier spring timeframe). It’s been a debacle for years and the ire has been blasted on Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets. The excuse over the past few years was that demand was far greater than expected. I can accept that once or twice, but if you look at your traffic data, you should be able to anticipate the flood. Although Main Stage and Empire Stage events are pretty cool, the other smaller rooms are lacking. there are a couple cool things happening, but they are far and few between. With so many people attending, I think there should be more stuff happening. With so many people, there should be a wide variety of events and things to attend. Yes, there are signings and alternate things going on like the Kendo presentation that happened a while back, but the event seems somewhat sparse at times. If you miss out on a couple key panels, it’s just more wandering around the dealer floor until the next event. Finally, I don’t think the con is actual run that well from a tactical, “day-of” standpoint. The volunteers are snarky, but that could be due to the overwhelming attitude and nastiness con-goers give them. The Jacob Javits center employees are pretty lackadaisical in their duties (out of the hands of Reed, I know). I also realize there are a ton of organizers and volunteers who do great work and hold a thankless job, but this leads to some bad blood. There’s a fine line between going with the flow and having legitimate complaints. This isn’t a non-profit fund raising event; we paid money to go to something that is putting money in the pockets of the organizers, Reed Exhibitions. The dealers pay good money to attend as do all the people who do signings. Reed doesn’t do this just because they love us. Although I’m sure they’re fans just like us, they also are a profit-making subsidiary of a larger, multinational conglomerate. As paying customers, we have every right to expect more for our dollar.
This is a personal wish of mine, but I wish Reed continued with the combination of NY Anime Festival. They created it after the Big Apple Anime Festival died off and NYAF had potential of drawing in more people (and more sales) to NYCC. I thought it was great to have this alongside NYCC giving even more things to do especially when there was a lull in the CC planning. I get that it was probably discontinued due to the lack of traction, but I miss it.
In the end, how do you fix it? There are a ton of ways to fix the ticket buying process. From different days for different ticket types to better market pricing of tickets, tried and true solutions exist. I personally think that ShowClix, a company that’s been in business for 8 years, simply doesn’t have the chops for something of this size. Yes, Reed Exhibitions would probably get lower margins by employing TicketMaster, but come on. This is a big event with a lot of people. Get your act together and get it right. This isn’t hard to fix.
Event planning should be rethought. People may disagree with me on this, but there has to be other things to do. There’s a lot of leftover space in the Javits center that can be rented. You can do more. More screenings, alternate events, etc. Yes, this causes more headaches and costs, but Reed Exhibitions does not just do NYCC and C2E2. They do numerous conventions ranging from cars to IT business exhibitions. They’re not noobs. Take a look at what other comic and anime cons are doing and take a page from their books. If you want to compete with SDCC and make this a premiere event that draws bigger sponsors, then you should put the resources to do it. Reed already has the attendance and better planning they can draw even more revenue from sponsors which would help us as con attendees as well.
Con operations should be rethought. NYCC is no longer a grass roots with the made fans for fans feel. It has gone way past that. You need better people who are trained to deal with the size of the crowds. Volunteers won’t cut it. You need paid staff members. I don’t need an early 20-something giving me attitude because they have been getting crap from the last few thousand people who ignored him or her. This is a tough job, I get it, but remember this. No one forced you to do it. You asked to be here so do it right. That and I may just punch you in the face hard enough that you lose control of bodily functions. Yes, I’m sure I have enough skill and power to do so. Yes, violence is wrong. Yes, I don’t have to come to the event. I don’t care. I paid to be here because I like things overall so do your job.
NYCC is at a point where things can go very right or very wrong. It has no real competitors in size in the region. It can capitalize on this and draw even more people and more money. Or it can flub things up so that it just gets crappier and eventually loses momentum. I personally don’t think this will happen because it has passed critical mass and a grass roots con will have little success in gaining traction or giving enough competition to force Reed to up its game. I’ll still buy tickets and go every year so I can only hope…