Author Topic: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)  (Read 6515 times)

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NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« on: October 16, 2013, 06:39:29 AM »
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Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con

By Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid |
Oct 15, 2013


With security and overcrowding issues of past years mostly resolved, New York Comic-Con actually managed to grow in 2013, with an announced attendance of 133,000-roughly the same number as attend July’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. That’s up from an announced 116,000 attendees in 2012.

How did the show manage to grow while getting less crowded? It’s all due to the new RFID technology used on badges. For the first time this year, attendees were asked to “tap in and tap out” to eliminate counterfeit badges and fraud. ReedPOP’s global v-p, Lance Fensterman, who oversees their shows around the world, said the new technology was a huge success. “On Friday morning between 9-11 am we successfully moved in 60,000 people,” he told PW. “That’s 500 people a minute.”

With concerns over crowd safety a huge priority this year, the RFID badges enabled Fensterman and his crew to get an idea of how big the counterfeiting and fraud were last year. By using the technology, ReedPOP was able to know exactly how many people were in the building at any time. He estimates that more than 20,000 people may have entered last year without badges.

They also determined that exhibitors are “by far the biggest perpetrators of badge fraud,” said Fensterman, mostly by sharing badges and using the time tested going out with a badge in the pocket technique. By “tapping in” it was determined which badges hadn’t been tapped out-and it was mostly exhibitors doing it.


Sara Cohen and ReedPOP global v-p, Lance Fensterman

Prior to the show, availability of exhibitor badges had decreased, with tables unable to get badges for booth workers, and even exhibitors with large expensive booths unable to purchase more badges. While aware of this, Fensterman said that more badges for booths mean fewer badges for paying fans, and that is always ReedPOP’s priority.

While this is obviously something that will need to be addressed in future years, the crackdown on the badgeless and counterfeits did overall reduce crowding on the floor. “Even at 2 pm on Saturday, the busiest time of the show, I never felt I couldn’t move,” said Fensterman.

Comic Con-troversies

However the RFID system also led to the biggest embarrassment of the show: the sending of unauthorized tweets when users checked in to the con. When badges were mailed out, attendees were urged to register them online; doing so, as previously reported in PW, enabled users to get 50 free Comixology comics and enter a contest to win a car. Attendees could also “opt in” to register with Facebook or Twitter, a common practice for today’s social media users.

However, as the show opened, those who had elected to do this were shocked to find their Facebook and Twitter accounts suddenly taken over by New York Comic-Con, with such messages as "So much pop culture to digest! Can't. handle. the. awesome. #NYCC," "I can't get enough #NYCC!" and "So much to see, so much to do! #NYCC 2013 I love you!" and a link to the NYCC Facebook page. These promotional tweets were even sent from such media figures as Harry Knowles.

The move generated immediate outrage and was shut down by Friday morning with an apology. Fensterman acknowledges that “it was a dumb idea from a dumb place. It was terrible and I wish we hadn’t done it.” Although this use of the potential for individual tracking was overzealous, he remains excited about future uses for badges. “The technology allows us to do so much” from scavenger hunts to individual check ins at booths.

Another controversy was the branding of Arizona Iced Tea’s “I Heart Big Cans’ campaign which took over the Empire Stage and appeared on the floor-the campaign includes full-figured women talking about tea and cans, and you can probably figure out the rest. A video featuring a woman pouring tea over herself appeared before many of he con’s biggest panels before being shut down on Friday night after yet more outrage. Fensterman agrees this was a mistake, too-an early version of a print ad was rejected, but the entire campaign should have been reviewed, he acknowledges. NYCC’s attendee’s are about 40% female.

For all the missteps, it was still a record-breaking year for the show; yet with attendance under control, NYCC now has the same problems as San Diego-no room to grow. The Javits Center is notoriously inhospitable to large consumer crowds, even as NYCC has become a marketer’s bonanza-not just for comics and video game companies, but national brands. Intel, Chevy, Geico and Verizon were just a few of the companies one wouldn’t normally expect at a “nerd fest.” But of course, comic-cons are now so much more than that.

Fensterman said the show was able to make the entire Javits part of the show by putting the consumer tap-in area outside. This definitely helped give the crowd more room, but in future years Fensterman hopes to spread the event out into the city at large, just as San Diego has spread throughout the Gaslamp district. “We turn down great programing every year, imagine having events at the Paley Center,” he said.

Despite all the distractions, the show managed to draw in a lot of comics consumers who made it mostly a success. Artist Alley was held in a separate building and despite worries that there would be no traffic, it was humming all four days, with almost universally high sales reported from the audience.

Around the Floor

The crowds surging through the Javits Center -there seemed to be throngs of people in every area of the building-seemed to be paying off in sales. Conversations with publishers around the floor were generally upbeat with many praising the new RFID system as well as sales. Archie CEO Jon Goldwater said sales at his large booth had been “explosive.” And Abrams ComicArts’ Charles Kochman, Yen Press’s Tania Biswas, Papercutz’ Jesse Post and Robert McGuire, publisher of GENManga all characterized sales over the weekend as good to great on the exhibition floor.


Anomaly Publishing, which released the massive sci-fi graphic novel of the same name last year, was back with a new new sci-fi thriller, Shifter: The Graphic Novel by the same creative team of Skip Brittenham, Hollywood entertainment lawyer turned sci-fi writer/publisher, and artist Brian Haberlin. Like Anomaly, Shifter is augmented reality enhanced, and when viewed through the Anomaly scanner on an iphone or iPad, offers 3-D animation and sound effects. The original work, Anomaly-a 400 page graphic novel about a doomed spaced expedition in the far future-had sold about 7,000 copies and plans for “a movie is in the works,” said Haberlin. Relativity Media optioned the rights, Haberlin said, and Ed Ricourt is writing the screenplay. Haberlin said a sequel to Anomaly is coming in the end of 2014 and Anomaly Publishing is also launching a kids line of AR-enhanced picture books also coming in 2014.

Tony award-winning producer and now comics writer Vivek’s Tiwary’s The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story publishes this month in three different editions-a standard hardcover ($19.99), a collectors hardcocover edition ($49.99) with bonus materials, and a limited edition hardcover (1,500 copies) with a tip-in sheet signed by the creators (Tiwary, Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker) and a bonus section ($99.99). Tiwary was giving interviews at the Dark Horse booth and also outlined a partnership with Freedom to Marry, a same-sex marriage equality group that is endorsing and promoting the book, a group he emphasized that he supported long before the Fifth Beatle project started. He has also finished a draft of a screenplay for the planned film adaptation (Tiwary has the rights to use the Beatle’s music in the film) and Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen (American Beauty, Milk and other films) will be his coproducer. A project driven by his passion for the Beatles and comics, as well as his admiration for Epstein, Tiwary said his parents, now passed away, “loved comics and the Beatles and they would have loved to be here to see this book.”

Launched on the eve of New York Comic Con by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Vital Shift is a religion focused graphic novel imprint intended to bring both comics visual story telling and Transmedia franchise extensions to the Christian publishing marketplace. HCP’s lead title is Messiah: Origin by Mark Arey and Matt Dorff, the first in a series of seven graphic novels that will detail the life of Christ as translated from the ancient Gospel manuscripts. But in a panel held on Sunday morning at NYCC, HCP publisher Chip Brown outlined a vision of the Vital Shift imprint as a platform to produce serious comics works that ultimately can also be translated into a broad universe of interconnected Transmedia properties marketed to a global Christian marketplace.

“The bible is a transmedia property,” Brown said at a panel alongside Transmedia guru Jeff Gomez, CEO and cofounder of Starlight Runner Entertainment, a firm that specializes in producing Transmedia properties. Gomez has produced Transmedia projects for Disney, Coke and other big brands and was on hand to outline how the media strategy-Transmedia is the process of extending branded properties into new media formats, from comics to videogames to prose novels, animation, film, webisodes and more-can be conceived, produced, applied and managed. It seems likely that Gomez and Vital Shift will be involved in some kind of content deal-both parties declined to comment on the possibility of collaboration-as both Gomez and Brown took turns during the panel to outline the potential of Transmedia to transform the traditional publishing market and on its likely impact on the Christian market in particular.

Brown described the bible as a “transmedia property written over 1500 years by more than 40 writers with more characters than anyone can count.” He noted that “one out over three people is a self-identified Christian, 78% of U.S. citizens claim to be Christians and we see this market reflected in shows like Duck Dynasty, game shows like the American Bible Challenge and feature films.” Brown said the goal is start with comics but ultimately create “a pervasive story world,” that can be translated to a variety of formats for just such a broad marketplace of Christian consumers. “Jesus didn’t have a marketing department; he gave away content for free. If you do it well, the marketing side can go away.”

 Gomez discussed the advantages Transmedia can have for publishers and for the content creators-if the publishers are willing to make the necessary investments in a content strategy that is not always understood by traditional publishing companies. Unlike dealing with movie studios, Gomez said, who want to everything, “publishing offers the opportunity to share equity; it can be structured as a partnership between” between principals.

Update on Comics Plus: Library Edition

Comics Plus Library Edition is a new cloud-based digital comics lending program that offers school and public librarians an online service that lets library patrons borrow comics and graphic novels on a cost-per-checkout basis. It offers unlimited simultaneous checkouts and pre-set budget limits. The service launched in June at American Library Association convention in Chicago and iVerse Media CEO and founder Michael Murphy and Josh Elder, iVerse account director and CPLE developer, and consultant John Shableski were on hand at New York Comic Con to update PW on the service. Since its launch back in June, Murphy said, CPLE has enrolled about 25 library systems including the Houston Public Library and the Essex County Library System in Canada. Murphy said the service is in a soft rollout and using feedback from librarian clients to upgrade the search feature.

Murphy outlined how the digital lending service can help support print collection development with the data and analytics the system retrieves on what digital comics are being borrowed. Murphy said an interested library can go from demo to signup in about 2 months. Brodart, the library distributor, is acting as a sales representative for service and he said the service has about 80 publishers now (among them Viz Media, Archie and Andrews McMeel) and more on the say. Asked about interest from the Big Two-Marvel and DC-Murphy declined to comment specifically but said, “we’re asking publishers to leap into a new model so the market is moving slowly but more publishers are coming in the future.”

Changes on the Floor

Another new feature this year was DC Entertainment’s altered presence-instead of a booth on the floor, they split their exhibit between an impressive looking display of Superman costumes at one less trafficked part of the hall, and signings in Artist Alley. The exhibit, which was a traditional booth, just not one located on the show “floor,” was a success with engaged crowds all weekend. The signing area will probably need to be rethought, as fans appeared to prefer getting autographs at the artists’ own tables.


While New York Comic-Con displayed many uniquely local features, it was also a showcase for the global expansion of comics and nerd culture. At a booth for the Indian Comic-Con, Es**ta Ghosh and Jatin Varma spoke about how they are expanding their shows in India with three permanent events and one pop with more to come. “We can’t meet the demand [for guests and material],” said Varma, founder of the event. “Our audiences want more and more. This is a global entertainment culture now; people all watch the last episode of Breaking Bad the same day and tweet about it.” The two were there to serve as ambassadors for the Indian comic cons and also invite more Western publishers and creators to come. Indie titans like Robert Crumb, Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly and Self Made Hero have already made appearances to big crowds-“our audiences like independent comics as much as superheroes,” said Varma.

Diamond Books’ v-p sales and marketing Kuo-Yu Liang echoed the growth in the global channel for comics publishing. “India is a huge English language market, even though the distribution system is a challenge” he told PW. “But we send more material and it sells, we double it and it sells, and so on.” There’s been a surge in interest in foreign publishing from comics publishers, he said, something that many had put off in the past. But now, with basic problems solved and comics sales up in recent years, the industry can act on the next level plans. “The biggest problem is not enough time to pursue all the opportunities,” he said.

ReedPOP is also looking at foriegn expansion, with several emerging comics markets under consideration for future events. While New York Comic Con has its problems-programming was generally lackluster and there were issues with getting in and out of programming rooms and conflict with security reported here and there-it’s clearly not going anywhere. And Fensterman is already preparing his team for a future that includes a subway extension to the West Side and wider development of the entire area around the Javits. “For the first time, I really see how this has become an institution,” he said. “We estimate the economic impact to New York as $60 million now,” but that may someday be merely a fraction of the total worth.


Offline alyssa

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2013, 07:18:45 AM »
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....estimates that more than 20,000 people may have entered last year without badges. <snip>

that is a shocking number--

i've read the reports from folks who've said, it was a lot easier to move around on the floor & wondered how it jived with the record attendance figures.  Can it all be chalked up to counterfeit tix or does floor planing have a lot to do with it?
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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #2 on: Today at 12:11:14 PM »

Offline NYRider

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2013, 07:39:55 AM »
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that is a shocking number--

i've read the reports from folks who've said, it was a lot easier to move around on the floor & wondered how it jived with the record attendance figures.  Can it all be chalked up to counterfeit tix or does floor planing have a lot to do with it?

No construction on the show floor this year and badge-sharing (at the fences) being prevented, are probably big factors as well.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 07:43:24 AM by NYRider »

Offline ComicGirl

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2013, 10:21:19 AM »
20,000 extra people snuck in or had counterfeit badges? That seems highly unlikely. NYCC counts their badges "turnstyle" which means they count a 3 day badge as three separate people. My guess is that the true number of counterfeits and people who snuck in is closer to 6600. 20,000 divided by three. ReedPop is good at inflating their numbers.

On a somewhat related side note, I went to NYCC and on Saturday gave my badge to someone else who needed it after I tapped in. I spent the rest of the day walking around the show without a badge and was never stopped by their security. It was just as easy to share their RFID laminate badge as it was a regular non-RFID badge.

Offline NYRider

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2013, 02:38:03 PM »
The turn styling questions have come up before. And Lance has denied they count badges that way:

This is for NYCC 2009:

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Newsarama: Okay, so Lance, you already announced on your blog that you tracked, what, 77k people through the doors over the weekend? Can you show your math for us?

And also, is that “unique” ticket holders that walked through your doors? Is that a raw sum of each day’s attendance, meaning of those 77k, people who came back multiple days were counted twice?

Lance Fensterman: This is a unique industry professional numbers — which is to say it includes, fans, professionals, press, panelists, creators, etc. It’s the sum total of everyone that was at the show this year.


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This is for C2E2 2011:

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You guys put out an attendance number of 34,000 people. As I'm sure you're aware, the question everyone always has when show numbers hit is whether the attendance is based on individual bodies or if there's any "turnstyling" -- counting each time a person enters the room -- or counting three day passes as three people, etc. Any response on how Reed gets their figures and in general what you think of this year's numbers?

(inserted- Lance): 34,000 plus is the preliminary number (we still have retailer tickets coming in, so it will likely go up a bit). Our numbers are real numbers of people in the building, not turn styled. We include fans tickets, pro's, exhibitors and speakers and everyone is counted once. We believe our numbers speak for themselves and additional "hype" through inflated stats is not needed.

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Offline ComicGirl

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2013, 09:20:34 AM »
That is correct. Related to NYCC only (not C2E2) they do not "turnsytle" in the traditional sense where they count you every time you walk in or out of the building, but if you buy a 3-day badge you are counted as three people , because (in his own words) "It's the total sum of everyone that was at the show this year." Meaning that there were X amount on Friday, X amount on Saturday, and X amount on Sunday, for a total of 77k people.

Lance is a bright guy. He knows how to work the numbers and market them to the media. Read his answer again and you will see he didn't actually answer the Newsarama question about unique ticket holders. He danced around it gracefully.

It doesn't really matter to me either way (he's brilliant at marketing, props to him!), but to claim they had 20,000 counterfeit badges or people who snuck in 2012 is absolutely absurd. NYCC is a good enough convention that they shouldn't have to use such tactics. I went this year and it was a great show! I actually think that being a smaller convention than the big San Diego mess is a benefit to NYCC fans, not a deterrent. Inflating their numbers just makes them look desperate.


Offline karatekid

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2013, 03:54:53 PM »
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On a somewhat related side note, I went to NYCC and on Saturday gave my badge to someone else who needed it after I tapped in. I spent the rest of the day walking around the show without a badge and was never stopped by their security. It was just as easy to share their RFID laminate badge as it was a regular non-RFID badge.

So you are admitting on this board to all that you violated their policy and contributed to the number of people who "snuck in." It's a bold move since we have a member from NYCC's board/operations that comes on periodically!

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Offline karatekid

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2013, 03:58:50 PM »
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Lance is a bright guy. He knows how to work the numbers and market them to the media. Read his answer again and you will see he didn't actually answer the Newsarama question about unique ticket holders. He danced around it gracefully.

Yeah, having attended all 4 days, their preliminary number of 133,000 seems way high. That's about SDCC range and believe me, not even at the busiest point on Saturday did it feel like even Preview Night busy/density at SDCC. I just didn't see it or feel it so either they did such a strategic job of booth placement, walkway traffic, etc. or the numbers are indeed inflated or skewed a certain way. 
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Offline YouThinkMeMad

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2013, 05:48:51 AM »
See, I'm in the other camp. To me, having been to NYCC before, I felt that this year was VERY crowded. I hated it to be honest. I honestly felt more relaxed and felt I had more space at SDCC this past year. But that's just my opinion.

Do I feel like it was 130,000 people? No. But did feel overcrowded for the space.

Offline alyssa

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2013, 06:47:36 AM »
i barely feel qualified to write since i neither attended nor do i have access to the raw numbers or equations but i do know RFID chips allow for an accurate head count vs the mushy numbers of paper badges which by definition rely on turnstyle methods of counting.

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2013, 07:06:28 AM »
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On a somewhat related side note, I went to NYCC and on Saturday gave my badge to someone else who needed it after I tapped in. I spent the rest of the day walking around the show without a badge and was never stopped by their security. It was just as easy to share their RFID laminate badge as it was a regular non-RFID badge.

KarateKid is right and i've amended the forums rules to include a "please don't talk about breaking the rules of a comic con"

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2013, 10:04:50 AM »
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KarateKid is right and i've amended the forums rules to include a "please don't talk about breaking the rules of a comic con"

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If I was on the NYCC board/operations, I would look at my comment as an opportunity to fix their system. RFID was an excellent way to track the comings and goings of attendees, however there were quite a few holes and areas of room for improvement. Example? I have a video showing people sneaking in (if someone will tell me how to attach it here I would be happy to). People just walked AROUND the scanners to get in. These weren't people that were with my group, I just happen to catch it while taking a video.

The problem was with the way they utilized RFID (removable laminates) was they needed to have a second security check at some point once you were in the building. Maybe upon entry to Exhibit hall or panel rooms. Just doing one tap in upon entry on the front drive allows anyone to roam the convention all day without a badge when you are inside. They had little to no security anywhere.

If they really want to cut down on "cheating", switch to RFID bracelets. These are industry standards in almost all multi-day concert and festival events I attend. No one gets a removeable RFID badge that they can share. And since NYCC doesn't put names on badges anyway, I am really curious on why they went the laminate route instead of the bracelet route.

Sorry I violated the forum policy. I hope my feedback assists NYCC in securing their facilities.

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2013, 10:21:27 AM »
I personally would hate having to wear a bracelet for 3-4 days. I understand not being able to share but I like to be able to remove my badge at the end of the day before parties, events, nice dinners, or whatever else I have going on.

I do agree though that random spot checks should be done throughout the show. They could just be random, they could be as you enter a room, maybe even when you're going into Artist Alley. There's no reason why they can't do random badge checks throughout the show.

Offline ComicGirl

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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2013, 10:28:29 AM »
I think the worst part about bracelets is for cosplayers. Imagine you have this amazing costume you have worked on for months and you have studied every detail to make it as accurate as possible, and then they make you put on some ugly bright green bracelet that clashes with the entire costume. I would be really bummed.

But I've done several festivals where you wear your bracelet for all 4 days and it actually becomes sort of a "Badge of honor" when you are out at parties, press junkets, or industry events. Everyone is wearing one, so there is a general sense of camaraderie when you see someone at a restaurant or party wearing one too. But they do REALLY suck when it comes time to shower, LOL!


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Re: NYCC: Comics Get Global at New York Comic-Con (PW Article)
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2013, 11:22:16 AM »
The point of RFID, is to prevent overcrowding. When it comes to badge sharing, you can't enter without a badge was tapped in first and not tapped out. That prevents two people from being inside the building, at same time, using same badge. It is possible though, for multiple people use the same badge, but come in at different times/days. But you still have one person per badge at once.