Monday, November 27, 2006

Gen Con So-SoCal?

The content of this post is completely colored by the fact I just spilled spagetti sauce down the front of my NICE SHIRT! BAH!

After a year of running convention tournaments, you'd think I'd be better at it. I mean, I do fine, but it's rough when you realize you aren't doing it at the same level as the other companies around you. I'll wager Clout players had as much if not more fun than anyone else, but the attendance numbers don't lie. It was a small-ish show with small tournaments. Why?

First, Gen Con SoCal is a small-ish convention. It feels like it wants to be huge (I think because its format copies the huge Gen Con Indy, as it should) but it's not huge. Thursday, in particular, was dead dead dead. To be fair, Saturday had it going on.

Second, I have been long been confusing casual with minimalist. I have intentionally kept the complexity and logistics of running Clout convention events to a minimum. The computers and loudspeakers and podiums and over-the-top decor of the other companies are not only expensive, but, I felt, a distraction from the fun of the game. Those things are a good choice for *their* games, sure. Not what I wanted for Clout. This was sort of a mistake. Sort of. Clout needs DIFFERENT tools, decor, communication tools, etc. to succeed at conventions. What it needs exactly, I'm not sure of yet. If I could swing it, there'd be sofas and round coffee tables surrounding the tournament tables, and large magnetic boards keeping track of points and standings for all to see. And a ICEE machine. Ooh yeah, that'd be perfect. All Con tournaments should come with refreshments. It's stupid that they don't. Could you imagine filling out your Pizza order along with your stack registration so it'd be delivered between round 3 and 4? We'd just charge and extra couple of bucks for the tournament to pay for it. Yeah.

Lastly (and this is going to sound bitter, because I am a little.) all the publishers seemed to get creamed by Upper Deck's World of Warcraft TCG. I just want to say for the record: I DON'T GET IT. It's so been done. Fantasy TCG, big prizes, nice licence. Nothing out of the ordinary at all. I don't see the appeal. Don't get me wrong, the game's fine. Paul says they followed the WoW model for MMRPGs and built a TCG that didn't have anything wrong with it. Perfected the existing TCG model, as it were. That flies in the face of my "innovate or die" worldview, so I'm ticked that it's working so well for them. I *think* WoW TCG is a product with a short lifespan, because it has brought nothing new to the table. As soon as somebody does innovate in a way that registers with gamers, they'll move on. Even so, I'd kill to have buzz like they've got. If nobody does innovate soon, it follows they'll have a good long run with it. If so, good for them! (grumble grumble.)

Anyway, it's good to be back home. I'm catching up with e-mail as I often must do following conventions and holidays (particularly when they butt up against eachother!)

Until next time,



Jirel said...

I think WoW's appeal is the millions of online players and the fact that many of the cards have prizes you can use onlines. The online people are addicted and will take any thing they can get - heck, you can sell the online stuff for real money. I had a local guy tell me that he gave a card he pulled to a friend that is manager of a local pizza store who plays WoW online. He didn't know what he pulled but the guy told him he could come in and have dinner for free for the next month.

And a LOT of kids are in it for the money. Please hold fast and don't ever give out money prizes. It would so turn this competitive. But when a game comes out and offers lots of money, many people jump on the bandwagon early, especially if they can go to the first convention because they know that there will be fewer people to compete with for that prize money in the first tournament. Hasn't VS died down some? I know the prize money was the bid draw to start with on that.

HCGAdam said...

Let's see:

Fantasy Themed TCG (Magic, etc.)
Virtual Items for Online Play (NeoPets TCG)
Large Cash Prizes (Magic, VS.)
Big Convention Prizes, including trips and I-Pods (The Spoils)

They are sort of going down the Marketing TCGs Checklist(TM). My gut tells me it shouldn't work as well as it is. Very little of the stuff above translate to loyal players, however. We will see...

Jirel said...

I would also think that sooner or later the cash cow would run dry. :)