GenCon: 2019 and Beyond

by Transmute Jun

GenCon Exhibit Hall

GenCon 2019 is in the books. As the largest gaming convention in North America, this con attracts attendees from across the USA, as well as some international visitors (approximately 68,000 unique attendees for this year’s event, held August 1st -4th , with Trade Day on July 31st).

Pathfinder 2 Retailer Presentation

As always, this year’s GenCon provided plenty of opportunities for those into almost any kind of gaming, especially RPGs, tabletop, CCGs, LARPs, and the new trend of hybrid megagames, which combine elements of all of the above. The Exhibit Hall was full of companies demoing their newest games, such as the Batman Ninja card game from Cryptozoic, Letter Jam from Czech Games, Legendary’s 007 Bond game and Fantasy Flight’s release of Marvel Champions, Funko made a splash by returning to GenCon with their new Funkoverse board games, while Paizo clearly ruled the RPG roost with their official release of Pathfinder 2, which was playtested at GenCon last year. Popular events such as True Dungeon, Gamers: Live, and the Costume Contest also drew a lot of attendee interest, along with tens of thousands of other events.

Attendees wait to get into the Exhibit Hall

Since GenCon has been around for more than fifty years, it has had to transition over the decades. Like many pop culture cons, GenCon has evolved as its attendee base has changed over the years, as well as adapt to changing times. One of the recent changes is the introduction of electronic ticketing for many of the con’s events. This year, electronic ticketing expanded and most attendees were able to participate in this more convenient form of event registration. GenCon hopes to have every event ticketed electronically (eliminating all paper tickets) within the next 2-3 years. This will allow attendees to purchase, transfer and cancel event tickets much more easily, as well as reduce demands on customer service and will call during the con itself.

Similar to San Diego Comic Con, another big concern of GenCon’s is how to expand the number of badges that can be sold. Currently, GenCon hosts more than 65,000 unique attendees each year, and has sold out of 4-day and Saturday badges for the last few years. As in San Diego, GenCon is limited by the size of the Indiana Convention Center, and the number of people it can hold. Expanding to the connected Lucas Oil Stadium a few years ago allowed the con to increase the number of attendees, and con organizers are always looking for new places to host events in downtown Indianapolis. Fortunately, a new hotel/convention space complex is planned to open downtown within a couple of years, so this should allow even more gamers to experience this con.

Hall D Gaming Area

Despite filling all currently available space, GenCon has no plans to leave Indianapolis, and recently signed a contract to remain in the city until at least 2023. The convention center is large, with many connected hotels, and Indianapolis has an accessible downtown area, similar to the San Diego Gaslamp, which is extremely friendly and welcoming to con attendees. Indianapolis is appreciative of the economic benefits that the Con brings, and is centrally located in the country, with approximately 75% of its attendees living within driving distance/400 miles.

Although GenCon is over for 2019, its devoted fan base is already planning for next year’s event, scheduled for July 30th – August 2nd, 2020.

Have you attended GenCon? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!

Transmute Jun

Transmute Jun has an addiction to pop culture conventions, and attends as many as she can each year. When she's not traveling, she likes to stay at home reading a good book, playing a video game, or binge-watching a TV show. She can be bribed with pizza, Coke Zero and Belgian milk chocolate.