Gen Con 2016 Report
Gen Con was an incredible show with a massive audience of nearly 61,000 attendees. Collins Epic Wargames was there this year for the first time since starting publishing wargames back in 2008. Back then, I attended Gen Con with a single release, Frontline General: Italian Campaign Introduction, and had no clue what I was doing. Since then, I’ve released 4 other games and I’m in production with Polyversal, which is a complete departure from the WWII line of games thus far. With more to show, 2016 was the time to return to where it all started for me.
Gen Con is a hard show to attend logistically (I think)- For me, it requires a drive halfway across the country (Eastern Virginia to Indiana), a lot of planning to go smoothly, and is generally pretty expensive all around when you factor in booth costs, travel expenses, food, insurance for the booth (yes, you have to have it), booth furniture, and more. Luckily, the staff at Gen Con and Fern does an incredible job with making sure everything goes well, which I’m sure is a challenge considering the massive scale of the show. Load in / load out isn’t very fun, but I will say it’s well organized and seems to work even if you have to wait 10-15 minutes for a spot.
I’ve attended and exhibited at shows 1/10th the size of Gen Con and had nothing but trouble- either receiving a badge that should have been ready, logistics with loading / unloading, security, or otherwise- so Kudos to Gen Con for their organization, on-point staff, and for making things simple and enjoyable for attendees and vendors. While exhausting as a vendor, it’s worth it to attend if you can get in. That said, there is a lot of competition for attention. Many people who are there will never come by your booth and many more who do will simply pass by in a ‘zombie state’ because there’s just so much to see.
To draw people into your booth is always a challenge- they must be interested at a glance, curious, and inquiring enough to ask about whatever it is you’re showing. Make it easy for them. And one tip as a vendor- Anyone who stops by should walk away with something- not a lot of gimmicky freebies- but- a business card with your website or a flyer about your latest product. That stuff is useful. I love free pens as much as anyone, but really, when was the last time you bought a product because the name was on a free pen you received? Give people information and knowledge about your company and what you do- they can then choose to use it to explore more about you if interested- or not. Either way, it’s professional, useful, and inexpensive.
My line of Spearpoint 1943 games was shown, demonstrated, and sold, but I also focused heavily on Polyversal. Those who stopped by included backers of the recent Polyversal kickstarter, many people new to CEW, and some who had heard of Polyversal but missed the kickstarter. It was nice to meet all who stopped by in person and show you the prototype, take you through some command and control demos, and run you through a combat example or two. I also featured two newly 3D-printed skyscraper master molds from The Phalanx Consortium, who is currently running their Terrain Kickstarter for these, which made our demo table look amazing. Here are a few photos from the event including a mix of booth pics, Polyversal pics, and Spearpoint 1943 demos. The line actually got longer for those attendees picking up badges on Wednesday- it wrapped outside and around the corner of the building. Amazing. I’m just glad I didn’t have to stand in it ;).