Gen Con, Wizards of the Coast and Public Perception

Update: According to this post from the Gleemax forums, WOTC is going to Gen Con! This is great news for anyone attending the convention. Long live Gen Con!

As a child, Gencon was the Nirvana of gaming for me. I wanted to go desparately, but could never quite scrape together the cash. Now, as a “mature” adult, I can afford to attend. This year I am going to Origins, but I had planned on attending Gencon next year.

Assuming there is a Gencon next year.

Do no misunderstand me, I want Gencon to flourish, but I have a bad feeling about its long-term survival.

My gut tells me Gencon’s continued existence is in the hands of Hasbro…err…”Wizards of the Coast.” Should Wizards not attend this year in support of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, I doubt Gencon will recover.

Wizards is the 800 lb. dragon of gaming and smaller publishers follow their lead. The logistics and costs associated with renting a booth and travelling to Gencon is not a trivial investment for many smaller publishers. In fact, it is their biggest opportunity to display their new products. A hit at Gencon directly translates into more sales in game stores later

I believe a “no go” announcement from WOTC will precipitate a “run on the bank. ” Regardless of the convention’s true financial health, the public perception becomes “it will fail.” The instant this becomes the prevailing belief among gamers, attendance will plummet. No one in their right mind is going to make non-refundable plane reservations and schedule vacation time for a “possible” convention. As the “buzz” grows increasingly negative, more publishers drop out, feeding the cycle.

There is a simple vaccine for this, open dialogue with the gaming community by Gencon.

I think Gencon LLC should answer following question to allay fears, both among publishers and attendees.

1. Clarification of the $400.000.00 debt owed to Hasbro (listed in the bankruptcy filing ) and its impact on Wizards attendance. Is it no longer an issue or is this debt factoring into Wizard’s attendance at the convention?

2. Proof of sub-contractor agreements. I want to see proof that the convention has signed agreements with key sub-contractors for the convention. By key, I mean companies that do the setup of the convention center, rental of the convention center itself and other logisitics. A press release will not cut it. You can redact some of the private information if you like, but I want signed contracts.

Providing more information and dialogue will go a long way to reassuring potential attendees about Gencon.

Trask, The Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.