Molly Jackson: The Big Con!
Did you hear all those panicked screams yesterday? The cold yells of people feeling their hopes dashed before their very eyes?
Yes, yesterday New York Comic Con announced that they were once again altering their ticket sales process. This changes nearly every year (just like DC’s logo!), so every time it happens it shouldn’t be a surprise… but it always is. The big steps are always taken to help the ever-growing hordes to buy tickets and make sure that they don’t game the system.
The newest hoop is the addition of fan verification for anyone who could potentially buy a NYCC ticket. What it really boils down to is this is just NYCC having everyone register on the NYCC website in advance. So if I and my three friends want to go, we need to pre-register. The other change is there will no longer be any VIP tickets or tickets sold at retailers. Everything will be online and announced to members through their email that they verified with. San Diego Comic Con has done the same thing for years, so this isn’t news to serious con goers.
Yet, this small step has built up a lot of discourse amongst fans. Now there are cries of despair and confusion about the system. Now people are convinced that they will never get tickets again and, therefore, the world will end. OK, I might be exaggerating a bit but you get my point. Truth is, this is going to fix things with attendance. Yes, you can’t sit on a line outside Midtown Comics for 10 hours to get a ticket, but that also means the 30 ticket scalpers ahead of you can’t do the same. Will some scalpers still find a way? Yes, of course they will. But NYCC has gone pretty far to make it harder for them.
The big problem with this is that it doesn’t go far enough. As of their announcement, all tickets are non-returnable, non-transferable, non-resalable and non-upgradable. I understand the need to keep tickets non-resalable and non-upgradable. Making tickets resalable flies directly in the face of stopping scalpers, so that is pointless to have. I doubt anyone (except scalpers) would disagree. I can also understand the non-upgradable. There are a limited amount of each ticket to appease the great fire marshal! If you anger the fire marshal, his wrath will rain down upon us all! Oh, and the con will be closed down. Let’s not piss him off.
Now, on to non-returnable and non-transferable. The same scalper warning could be put onto non-transferable. This could be abused by the exact people they are trying to stop. But, if you limited how many tickets could be transferred, like 1-2 by the original credit card holder, it could help fans manage the planning in advance. One argument I saw was for disabled persons that need someone to assist them. If the pass could be easily transferable if the assist person changes last minute, which would be a big help for the disabled fans in attendance. Most likely though, this would not be a change NYCC would make.
NYCC needs to make tickets returnable. If you want me and my party of four to commit almost five months out, give me a small safety net. As NYCC likes to tell us repeatedly, they are as big as or bigger than SDCC. Well, SDCC lets tickets be returned. If I can return my tickets, then why not let me? Put it on me to pay shipping if I already received it and then do a last minute sale online in September. Give fans a chance to go if they couldn’t get through the slog of people trying to buy tickets in June. Look at the fear and panic already. There will be no danger in not selling out.
At the rate all of the conventions are growing, soon a lot of fans will be locked out of conventions. That is a truth we can’t ignore. Geekdom has grown out of the basement and I don’t think it will ever be going back. How conventions react to this growth boom is a different story. They need to remember that their fans are still everyday people, who are incredibly passionate about their fandoms. Giving those loud, excited and social media savvy fans some wiggle room can only help conventions grow more.