So how would these other cons be billed? The Second-Best Four Days of Gaming?
In all seriousness, I can't see how having multiple cons could fail to diminish the "main" Gencon. A lot of folks would only be able to afford one Gencon, either in terms of money or in terms of vacation time. I suspect that would include a disproportionate number of folks that only manage to attend by volunteering, GM'ing, or assisting a vendor in order to get help with the badge and/or housing. A con that's closer to home and perhaps cheaper to attend might draw a fair number of those folks, and they're really the backbone of the con.
I'll say it: I want a smaller Gen Con. I'm not going to do anything to achieve that in terms of driving people away, or encentivising people not to come. But I honestly used to have more fun at the 25k attendance levels and before. 60k people has not made the con more enjoyable for me.
This should not
be seen as a negative statement about Gen Con LLC or people who enjoy it more the bigger it gets, etc. I'm not blasting anyone for having whatever opinion they have. If you are enjoying it more and more every year, that's fine. And Gen Con LLC doing everything they can to grow their business is fine, it's their job. I'd probably do the same in their position.
But I've been to 32 Gen Cons, and the days when the hallways were busy but not jam packed, and when events sold but didn't sell out in 30 seconds, when the exhibit hall wasn't a whole day affair just to even literally lay eyes on
all the booths...that was more enjoyable to me. It's still enjoyable now, I still come, every year, and make it a priority.
But lots of what's been added hasn't impacted me positively in any way. The dance, movie screenings, celebrities. And just the sheer number of people. Not a positive for my experience, and in fact often a negative (getting a hotel room, finding a place for dinner, or just walking down the hallway). I still love the Con, but I would be happier with a lot fewer people.
Just talking preferences here, hope no one takes this personally. But if a second Gen Con (more successful than SoCal) drew some pressure off of Gen Con Indy...let's do it.
I would prefer a smaller con too, in some ways. But I wouldn't want to drive away gamers. The thing is, in the last couple years I have talked with several groups of new attendees that said something along the lines of "we couldn't get tickets for Comic Con so we came here instead" and "we're not here to game, we're here to costume".
So I think it's appropriate to ask: Is an overflow option for Comic Con what Gencon really should be? To me they are completely different animals, and even though there are lot of gamers who like what's on offer at Comic Con too, Gencon shouldn't cater to that side of it. Being all things to all people sort of made sense when there was a lot of capacity for growth, but at this point that capacity is mostly gone, so maybe that strategy needs to change.
If Gencon were to do a second convention, I think it might make sense to let Gencon Indy focus on being a gaming con, and move some of the anime, film, and celebrity programming to the new convention, where it can serve that side of the market. Sure, there would be some games at the new con too, and there could still be some "non-game" programming at Indy, but I think the two conventions need to be fundamentally different in order for both to be viable.