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Gamers can’t get enough Gen Con

2014 hobby gaming convention sells out housing block in first day
By John Kaufeld
Published: February 27, 2014
Gen Con 2013
Gamers at Gen Con 2013 explore exhibition booths while setting a new record of 49,058 unique attendees, with turnstile attendance coming in at 159,364.
Photo by John Kaufeld
When Gen Con’s housing block sold out in seven weeks last year, it set a new record. This year, the block sold out in less than one day.

“The sheer volume of attendees that purchased badges and booked housing when it opened on Day 1 was unprecedented,” said Jake Theis, senior marketing communications manager for Gen Con LLC.

Gen Con’s team actively planned for increased demand by growing the number of available rooms every year for the last few years. Organizers have added shuttle routes that serve outlying hotels and increased the housing block by 13 percent this year alone.

But even those extra efforts couldn’t withstand a 200 percent increase in total badge purchases to date compared to last year.

Over the last five years, the show’s total attendance in Indianapolis grew by 75 percent. Last year alone, attendance increased 20 percent, setting a new record of 49,058 unique attendees.

According to Theis, a combination of factors are behind the show’s housing sell-out. Wider general awareness of the convention played a significant part, he said, along with a growing number of crowd-pleasing (and retailer-pleasing) “destination” events and products from exhibitors.

Destination events are special tournaments or scenarios offered at the show. These events often connect to stores and smaller conventions through local qualifying events that give players a seat in the national tournaments at Gen Con.

Likewise, destination products are either prerelease or limited-edition items sold at an exhibitor’s booth. Players love items like these, but many retailers also find value in them for their stores. Items like these can become purchase promotions, event prizes, excitement-building demonstrations, or rewards for staff and high-spending customers.

If you plan to attend this year’s Gen Con in search of product ideas for your store, buy your badge and make your room reservations now.

“There are still many great suburban lodging options located directly on Gen Con’s Shuttle routes,” Theis said. The suburban hotels could even save you some money compared with downtown housing, he added.
For details on suburban hotel options and shuttle routes, visit

Retailers interested in attending the show can choose from several badge options, including one- and four-day show badges.

Basic badges provide access to the exhibit hall, seminars and gaming areas. Single-day badges are $40; four-day badges are $70.

Many retailers opt for the special Trade Day package. This includes an additional day of programming on the Wednesday of the show, before the exhibit hall opens, plus a four-day show badge.

Designed especially for retailers, librarians and teachers, Trade Day sessions focus on the business of games. Attendees also receive hands-on demonstration time, plus free games to use in their stores. The Trade Day package costs $110.

For more details about Gen Con’s programs, attendee badge options, the convention’s special guests of honor and more, visit
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