Tag Archives: SDCC Tickets

Convention Inflation

Next year’s WonderCon tickets are available now, and SDCC goes on sale next week. I noticed something interesting about the WonderCon price, because ten years ago, I compared a lot of convention prices.

How do they stack up a decade later?

  • WonderCon 2018 costs the same as Comic-Con 2008 did: $75. (WonderCon in 2008 was $30 in advance, or $40 onsite.)
  • Comic-Con International has gone waaaay up. They don’t sell full-weekend badges anymore, but if you’re super-lucky you could theoretically buy one-day badges for all 4 1/2 days in 2018 (if you’re really lucky), in which case you’d be spending $45+$63×3+$42 = $276!
  • Wizard World shows in general have gone from $45 in 2008 to $80 for 2018.
  • Flagship Wizard World Chicago has gone from $50 in 2008 to $95 in 2018.

There are some other conventions that need to be on this list today, but weren’t on the 2008 list. Some of them are new, like C2E2. Emerald City and New York Comic Con were around, but hadn’t gotten big enough for me to include on a list that was mostly California conventions plus the big names – which at the time were SDCC and Chicago.

  • C2E2 2018 costs $76.
  • I can’t find the prices for New York Comic Con.
  • Emerald City Comicon 2018 costs $120 for the full event.
  • Long Beach Comic Con started out around the same price as a Wizard World show in 2009, and is currently $60, so a little cheaper than a Wizard World show.
  • Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con launched with super-cheap tickets at something like $11/day to get people to show up (before Stan Lee’s name was attached to it), but by 2016 it was in line with other shows at $35/day. (I can’t find any prices on their website anymore, so I don’t know the full weekend price.)

So over all: comic convention prices have roughly doubled over the last 10 years, except for SDCC, which shows what happens when the demand for tickets goes up and the supply stays static. They can’t add more badges, so raising the prices encourages people to buy tickets for fewer days, freeing up space for other people on those other days. It sucks for those of us who want to buy tickets, but it’s textbook Adam Smith.

But wait! I looked at other fan conventions at the time as well!

  1. GenCon 2017 cost $90 for pre-reg/$120 standard, up from $60/$75 in 2008
  2. DragonCon 2018 cost $105, up from $90 in 2008
  3. WorldCon 2018 (San Jose) has only gone up to $210, compared to $200 for Denver in 2008
  4. WesterCon 2018 (Denver) is $60, same as in 2008!
  5. Loscon 2018 is $35, again, same as in 2008

These have climbed a lot less. GenCon jumped 1.5x instead of 2x, and the more traditional sci-fi/fantasy cons have only increased a little bit, if at all.

It reminds me of a discussion at Chicon 7, the last WorldCon I attended in 2012, about the changing face of fandom. Fan culture has exploded in my lifetime, but traditional sci-fi/fantasy con attendance has stayed static. Fans are interacting online, or going to anime/comic conventions instead. And that lines up very neatly with the prices of the comic conventions vs. the more traditional cons.

In any case, it’s worth noting: WorldCon is now cheaper than SDCC. And you get to vote for the Hugos!

Not Going to Comic-Con This Year (But I Feel Fine)

Convention Center End-On

It’s been getting more and more difficult each year to get tickets (not to mention hotel rooms) for Comic-Con International, and each of the last few years I’ve been wondering if this one might be the year I’d be shut out. The current system is a lottery: Everyone who wants tickets signs into a “waiting room” website before the sale starts, and the system randomly selects batches of people to let into the ticketing system, slowly enough that it won’t crash under the load, until all the tickets are sold out.

It took about an hour to sell out on Saturday.

Despite teaming up — you can buy tickets for yourself and up to two other people, so you can make arrangements among a group of three that whoever gets in first will buy tickets for the others — we watched as first Preview Night, then Saturday, then Friday, then Thursday, and finally Sunday each sold out. The official SDCC Twitter account was more timely with that information than the waiting room, which refreshed its message every 2 minutes, but insisted that Thursday was “very low” for at least one refresh after they reported the sellout on Twitter.

It’s going to be the first year since 1990 that I haven’t been to San Diego for Comic-Con.

Oddly, I’m only mildly disappointed.

  1. I was half-expecting it.
  2. WonderCon and Long Beach Comic-Con are both great conventions in the area (WonderCon 2014 & LBCC 2014 writeups) that are a lot easier to get into (and less crazy to attend). The kiddo might enjoy Comikaze — he’ll be almost five by then. (Wow!)
  3. I’ve been lucky the last few years, so I guess now it’s someone else’s turn.
  4. If we really want that SDCC experience, there’s the possibility of taking the train down to San Diego on Saturday to look at the stuff outside that doesn’t require a ticket. The kiddo will like the train ride too, I suspect.

Then again, the last two times I’ve gone to San Diego, I’ve gotten a first-hand look at the inside of an emergency room. Maybe it’s just as well that I don’t try for three in a row.

SDCC Lottery: The Least-Bad Option?

SDCC is moving to lottery-based pre-registration for 2014 to even out the crush of everyone hitting the site in the first 10 seconds after launch. Instead of first-come first-serve, you sign in anytime within a window and it randomly assigns your place in line.

I think we’re at the point where there just is no good way to handle the demand. A lottery — or rather, a pair of lotteries, one open to past attendees and one open to everyone — may very well be the least-bad option for now.

Originally published as a comment on SDCC Blog’s discussion of the change.

Don’t Use Third-Party Links in Email – Object Lesson: Comic-Con Registration

If you’re trying to get a message out, or provide a service, analytics are great. They tell you what’s working and what’s not, so you can focus on what does work. Unfortunately, when it comes to email, a lot of organizations use a third-party click-tracking service, which registers which mailing the user clicked on, then redirects them to the real website.

Why do I say unfortunately?

Because it’s what phishing does: Sets up a link that looks like it goes one place, but sends you somewhere else instead. In the case of a legitimate email with a click tracker, you end up at the real site eventually. In the case of a phishing message, you end up at a fake login page that wants to capture your username & password, or a site with drive-by malware downloads. Using this technique in legit mail trains people to ignore warning signs, making them more vulnerable to the bad guys. And it makes it harder for security software to detect phishing automatically.

Now add another reason: You don’t control that click-tracking service, so it had better be reliable.

That’s what happened with Comic-Con registration today.

Getting tickets to San Diego Comic-Con used to be a breeze, but last year the system broke down repeatedly. It took them three tries, with multiple handlers, to open a registration system that didn’t melt in the first few minutes.

A few days ago, Comic-Con International sent out a message with the date and time registration would open, and a link to where the page would be when it went live. They went to a lot of trouble to make sure their servers could handle the load, as did the company handling registration. They built a “waiting room” to make sure that people trying to buy tickets would get feedback, and get into a queue, when they arrived, but could still be filtered into the registration system slowly enough not to overwhelm it.

The weak link: The click tracker.

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SDCC Ticket Meltdown

Comic-Con 2011 ticket sales crashed under heavy load shortly after going online.

I think we’re seeing another shift in the process of getting to Comic-Con.

It used to be that, as long as you were aware of the onsale dates and could both plan your trip and pay for your tickets far enough ahead of time, getting those tickets wasn’t a problem. Sure, the show might sell out months ahead of time, but it would take weeks or months to get to that point.

Now, people are looking at preview night already being sold out, and looking back at their last experience with hotel reservations, and freaking out: We can’t just buy our tickets this week – we have to buy them NOW, as soon as they go on sale, or we won’t be able to get in!

Get enough people reacting that way, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fear of a rush ends up creating a rush, just like fear of a run on a bank often triggers one. Add in the live progress bars as a feedback mechanism, and it snowballs even faster.

Until it crashes the server, anyway…

(Originally posted as a comment at The Beat.)