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Subject: Now that Origins 2012 is history... how did it go? rss

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Bill Gallagher
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After having attended the last three Origins (and enjoying them all!), I missed out this year (thanks to the date change).

I was wondering how the convention went compared to last year:
--- Was it more or less crowded?
--- How much was there to do compared to last year?
--- How was the exhibit hall (AKA dealers' room)?

If it went well, I'll consider coming back next year, even it means I attend back-to-back multi-day conventions (there's a local one I normally attend on the USA Memorial Day weekend).
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Jeff Kayati
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It was "as expected". Smaller crowd to be sure, especially on Thursday and Friday. Saturday was pretty good day.

For shoppers, the dealer hall was nice. Much smaller crowds meant it was easier to get around the entire hall. At least two retailers had some blowout prices on many games.

For dealers, it wasn't great. Smaller crowds meant lower sales and much less enthusiasm.

The Board Room was busy, but the Miniatures Hall was dead this year. On Saturday, at least, the CCG Hall was packed with Magic players.

Overall it was, "meh".

The good news for you, and everyone else, is the date is moving forward two weeks to mid-June.
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Chris Funk
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Yeah, attendance was definitely down. Some estimates were 30%, but I have no numbers to prove that.

I know Mayfair had a much smaller booth this year as did some regulars like GeekChic, but there was still a good collection of vendors there. Many were small publishers, but I like that sometimes as I get to find some very obscure games that would normally be swept under the rug (like FlowerFall).

I spent almost all my time in the booth, but once I got out I had a ton of fun playing in the con center and the hotel.

I think the move to mid-June will help a lot next year. I noticed three college gradutations going on at the ConvCen and just down the street were a couple HS graduation ceremonies. That's going to overrule going to Origins for people every time.
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Todd Warnken
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I was there just for Saturday unlike past years when I went for the whole con. My son and I went into the dealers hall early and late and it was never crowded. The minis hall looked less attended than in the past. The food court had really short lines too.

With the change to later in June next year I hope attendance increases.
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Kevin Rutherford
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Many of the publishers had small booths in the exhibit hall but rented large quiet play areas off the main hallway. Rio's room down on the first floor main hall and was at least three times larger than last. Other companies such as Cyrptozoic and Mage Wars also rented out rooms off the main hallway so they were open past exhibit hall hours. Geek Chic had a small area in the exhibit hall but rented a huge room next to the Big Bar on 2 in the Hyatt where you could use their tables after hours.

Attendance was way down during the first three days. The exhibit hall was quiet on Thursday. Things picked up on Friday. Saturday was a big day.

The thing I noticed most was the lack of day pass "abuse" where they'd be purchased for multiple days and then hanging out in the open gaming area after the exhibit hall closed. Saturday night was totally dead in the open gaming area which meant these guys shopped and went home.
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Mark C
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No numbers but my sense was that attendance was noticeably down. I'll guess 25% less. For vendors, I expect this was a disaster. 25% is probably the difference for some. I know a few guys in the industry, I'll try to get more info later.

Overall the experience was good. Less crowded is easier parking, demos etc. So it was a great experience IMO for players.
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David Dixon
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I went on Saturday and was surprised there weren't more people. It was good for me (since I had my three-and-a-half year old son to wrangle) and I got to talk to plenty of folks at the booths without feeling like I was holding up a line somewhere behind me.

However, I definitely got the feel that this was a disappointing conference for a lot of the vendors. I asked everybody I talked to "So, has it been a good Con for you?" and the answers I got ranged from cagey non-answers to "Uh, well... It's been all right, I guess."

It sure seemed to me like some of them were going to have to call this one a loss, which is unfortunate, but that's just how it works sometimes.

Diis
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Jim Dietz
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I'll give a less cagey answer: It sucked, probably the most disappointing Origins for Jolly Roger in the 15-16 years the company's been attending.

At one point, there was a 30 minute segment when NO ONE passed by our booth. I don't mean stop and talk--I mean actually pass by down the aisle...at what is supposed to be one of the two big US Cons, that's really not acceptable.

If there's a bright side, it's that I had the chance to play a couple of demos and talk business with Ted Torgeson, Richard Launius, Jason Matthews. That was helpful--but something that could've been done with a few emails and phone calls rather than Origins.
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CW Karstens
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As a dealer: With this being the first Origins for Diamond K Games, it was rough financially but, did stay busy giving demos Friday and Saturday. Thursday and Sunday were extremely bare.

As a gamer: After the Dealer Room closed, I hung out in the board room and was surprised at how early the nights ended. I mostly played with friends I made from previous Origins. Definitely fun but very sparse.

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Mike Cole
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Prior years (last ~10 years) I went every day except Sunday. With the date change, I attended on a day pass on Saturday. It seemed like a Friday from years ago. Demoed a bunch, bought games from vendors. Prices were very good (because of low attendance?). First Origins that I didn't play any miniatures games.

My thoughts:
- Dealer hall really suffers as more and more of the big boys don't show. The second tier companies booths get smaller.
- The auction. Years ago it was a multi-day event. This year, basically a 1/2 day. First Origins auction that I didn't buy - I didn't even bid.

I'll be back next year - as long as the date doesn't interfere with my children's school events. I hope next year is better. On the plus side, I'll be attending my 2nd Gencon later this summer.
 
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Joel Tamburo
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This makes me wonder how much growth we'll see at WBC from people who opted out of Origins this year. Pre Registrations are (as of the last time numbers were posted) within a hair of last years all time high. And we have an uptick in the number of vendors (nice too).
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Rich Radgoski
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I claimed Origins was sliding last year and caught a lot of slack from the facebook/Origins supporters...This year was probably worse.

2 years ago, they had shuttles from outlying hotels - the last 2 cons - nothing.

Lines are smaller (which is great for a player, but really bad for the vendors) and there aren't the same amount of games/variety going on.

I took my older son, and had to leave my wife and younger son home due to school. Very rough.

I'm not impressed with the management of Origins these last few years. I think someone has to step up and make some positive changes.

(I'm NOT a fan of the high priced ribbon tickets...)

On the flip side, Heard Wil Wheaton speak which was awesome and did land some great games...

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Darren Hron
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I blame low attendance on Diablo 3....
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Jim Dietz
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If they are going to up the cost of booths--I wish they'd lower the 4-day badge cost.

Knock the 4-day badge to $30.

To play unlimited boardgames--you pay an extra $10.
To play unlimited RPGs--you pay an extra $10.
Want RPG and BG?? Pay an extra $15.

That elimiates the need for tickets, etc.
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Adam Brocker
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Suspension Engineer wrote:

- The auction. Years ago it was a multi-day event. This year, basically a 1/2 day. First Origins auction that I didn't buy - I didn't even bid.
.

I planned on selling in the auction until I saw that you had to be there on Sunday to pick up proceeds. I was only at Origins for 2 days, so I couldn't list my games. I'm sure this impacted a lot of sellers that could only be there for a day or two.
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Bill Gallagher
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jollyrogergames wrote:
I'll give a less cagey answer: It sucked, probably the most disappointing Origins for Jolly Roger in the 15-16 years the company's been attending.

At one point, there was a 30 minute segment when NO ONE passed by our booth. I don't mean stop and talk--I mean actually pass by down the aisle...at what is supposed to be one of the two big US Cons, that's really not acceptable.

I think you said it best.

Regardless of what the players might think, it is the exhibitors that are the financial life and blood of most conventions. Without them, we'd be paying far more than we're willing - or going into far smaller (and less desirable) locations.

Despite the move to mid-June next year, I am concerned about the future of Origins. Preliminary estimates are that attendance dropped anywhere from 25% to 60% (depending on the source). Moving it to mid-June in 2013 might help a bit; however, if not enough major exhibitors return next year, Origins may well be doomed.

GAMA needs to make a serious effort to bring back Looney Labs, Days of Wonder, North Star Games, and others who have abandoned this convention.
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Chris Darden
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I had people telling me they were doing Geekway instead of Origins this year. Guess it was true. Sad to hear, it used to be great.
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Bill Gallagher
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cbdarden wrote:
I had people telling me they were doing Geekway instead of Origins this year. Guess it was true. Sad to hear, it used to be great.

I will be attending an 18xx convention in Portland OR that MIGHT get two dozen people in lieu of Origins. I'll certainly enjoy it there; however, I do miss the Board Room (especially) and all the other stuff.
 
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Dave Christian
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On Sunday I was talking to the people working at Subway and they said that they had about 1/2 the business as they did last year. That says a lot.

But my daughter and I have come every year since 2004. I remember when EVERY hall was busy Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. And late into the night.

Steve Jackson used to have a large room just to themselves - now they just rent a handful of tables.

It seems like this convention just keeps diminishing a little more every year.

Wizards, Konami, Bandai, Pokemon, Fantasy Flight, Flying Frog, Looney Labs - all these major companies have made the business decision to NOT attend this convention. (Looney Labs not only shut down "The Big Experiment" but didn't even have a dealer presence.)

I love Origins, but I think its future is in serious jeopardy.
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Jim Dietz
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Doing things to 'woo' big companies isn't the thing to do.

I think it HAS to be customer/attendee oriented (but I do have two things for exhibitors, too).

1. I'd start with lower badge costs.
2. I'd work on an App that would give up-to-date event openings. Automated reminders to be sent to cell phones that "Hey, you have an evernt about to start!" would be great, too.
3. A coupon for ALL who purchase a 4-day pass, giving them 20% off of any one purchase (presuming a full retail price) in the exhibit hall usable at any booth.

To help exhibitors:
1. Booth costs would remain at the 2012 rate rather than the increase that was on the sheet handed out.
2. In the future, efforts would be made to tie booth rates to attendance.
3. Retailers would pay a higher booth rate than manufacturers--Origins is supposed to focus on the manufacturers.

Also important: I'm not a GAMA member. At no point has anyone affiliated with GAMA ever been able to give me a concrete reason to join the organization and how it would benefit my company. I'm all for 'growing gaming', but I don't like throwing my money into a vague pool I have no say or control over. That's NOT good business.
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Travis Worthington
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jollyrogergames wrote:

I think it HAS to be customer/attendee oriented (but I do have two things for exhibitors, too).

1. I'd start with lower badge costs.
2. I'd work on an App that would give up-to-date event openings. Automated reminders to be sent to cell phones that "Hey, you have an evernt about to start!" would be great, too.
3. A coupon for ALL who purchase a 4-day pass, giving them 20% off of any one purchase (presuming a full retail price) in the exhibit hall usable at any booth.


origins has been on a "race to the bottom" strategy for years already - it isn't working and doing more of the same isn't going to make it better.

The people that attend cons will spend more on soda while they are there than a $30 event ticket not to mention a hotel room, food, travel, etc. So reducing ticket costs even further doesn't make the event that much cheaper. Also attracting the people without money does little to support vendors that are the main source of income for most conventions.

Origins needs to become an event that people want to go to - as it was in the past.

Its so far gone that think it is best if they were to reinvent themselves, and play to their strengths - bring back the excitement. That is why people attend conventions.

i would first 1) get rid of day passes and 2) get rid of most ribbons/per event costs. The real effect of both of these is that people realize how much they are paying for each item - and that is a good way to get attendees focused on cost - not the fun they are going to have. Sure some people can't afford to go, but the ones that do are going to have a better time.

They also NEED to make the event space smaller. Saying you "sold out" the vendor area because their is now more floor space than retail space doesn't fool anyone, and it makes the remaining vendor space less productive. Same for Open gaming, and event areas - more space with less people is depressing.

Focus on maximizing the vendors that are still there - make the events that they run more visible and promoted to the attendee. Put some money into contests, make announcements - build excitement in what you have and make it worthwhile for attendees and the vendors.

GAMA needs some passion - that they couldn't even get a website up with the dates much less any kind of direction for their flagship event is pretty clear indication that they need a complete overhaul of the event management team - maybe even their entire management team.

They have a year to make changes - if next year is not better than last year (ie, anything would be better than this year) then I don't see many people giving them yet another chance.
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Dave Christian
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Gen Con actually costs more, but a LOT more people go to it. This year, it is possible that Gen Con's attendance will be 4X that of Origins.

It looks to me like Origins is turning into a smaller, regional convention.

As soon as the Smithees decide that they're giving up Origins for Gen Con, I'm switching.
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Joel Tamburo
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Part of Origins problem is that it has no real "distinctive" to make it a convention destination - it really comes off as a smaller and shrinking GenCon imitator.

Consider.

You want size, spectacle and a huge dealer area? GenCon is that place - that is its "distinctive". You want the emphasis on playing boardgames in both structured and open formats? WBC is that place - that is its "distinctive".

Meanwhile you have Origins. It uses the same administrative practices as GenCon (event tickets, generic tickets, the whole nickel and dining approach). It's gaming focus is close to the same and it's length is similar.

So where would Origins fit in?

Maybe it needs to get back to basics, back to what it was that made Origins a destination before. Origins used to be the traveling showcase of the strategy gaming (boardgames, miniatures, RPGs, etc.) hobby. It went from city to city, in each place it was run by the local gaming organization (selected a couple of years prior by a selection committee) and the promotion and such were provided by GAMA. So we even had a couple of years where Origins was run by the GenCon people (in those years the con would be called Origins-GenCon).

Perhaps this is where things need to go. Back to the traveling show, back to being run by the local organizations according to their own concepts and promoted by GAMA. Who knows, it may not work but it has a better chance than what is being done currently.
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Jim Dietz
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Joel--I think rotating it around the country would be great--using the same rotation of East/Midwest/South/West, etc.

If having Ohio State students at the con is a big deal (hahahaha), then that logic wuold work with UCLA, UMinn, Texas, etc, too.
 
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Peter Stein
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Have we forgotten already that rotating sites almost killed it in the 90's?
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