NYCC: An Open Letter

NYCC

Dear New York Comic Con -and your parent company ReedPOP,

We, here at The NYRD, want to start this letter by saying that we have always been big supporters of what you do. Your convention was one of our favorite events of the year and most of us have been attending since the very beginning. In fact, each year we have even coerced more and more friends, family, and even strangers into attending your event. Moreover, New York Comic Con brought us together and inspired us to follow our nerdy passions. Without NYCC there may not have ever been The NYRD.

That is why we find it so heartbreaking to say that we will not be attending your convention this year. Your latest ticketing policies have proven that NYCC is no longer about fans and fun, but about profits and greed. You have lost sight of what is important and we can no longer support you.

Now, please understand we are not claiming that you should offer your convention for free. You have the right to make a profit. We understand that, but your current “fan verification” process is both unwieldy and unnecessary. In order to purchase a ticket a fan must first go through the Fan Verification Process. Then when the day finally comes, fans must use their specific verification link to go to the ticket site, where they can wait for hours in a virtual queue. Assuming the servers don’t crash or tickets aren’t sold out, fans then finally get a chance to purchase their passes with hard-earned money. However, the process is not done. Next fans have to create an account to assign those tickets to pre-verified attendees. If they fail to do so than the tickets will be taken away with no questions asked. Meanwhile, this process is explained only through emails. That means anyone who wants to attend NYCC must be on the email list, and must remember to check their spam filters as -inevitably- at least one or most of these blast messages can be flagged as spam by certain email services. All of this is compounded by technical problems on your end.

In at least one instance when assigning tickets to their proper “verified” attendees the process failed completely. A member of our staff had his ticket refunded without warning, even after he completed the assignment process. It was made even worse by the fact that he was one person who only bought one ticket. Commonsense would seem to dictate that one person who purchased one ticket would be using that ticket for themselves. Your ticket assignment process should at least automatically recognize that the person who wasted their time to “verify,” “purchase,” and “register,” would be using at least one of the tickets they bought. Your new process and zero tolerance policies are hurting real people who only want to attend NYCC. So, if fans fail to jump through one of the hoops that constitutes your new system, then their money is refunded and their tickets are taken away, with no chance for an appeal.

Objectively, even your convoluted process of verification and registration can be doable by many attendees, and we are sure the floors of NYCC will still be packed with hundreds of thousands of people. However, that is also part of the point we are making. You, ReedPOP and NYCC, know full well that you are going to make money regardless of the sheer number of lunatic hurdles that you place in front of fans. New York Comic Con is going to sell out, because it is New York City. By the law of averages, you could require attendees to capture live raccoons with bar codes tattooed onto their stomachs and still get at least 100,000 people. However, just because you can do something does not mean that you should.

In years passed you had a simply code-registration system, which worked fine. It may not have stopped all the scalping, but it had the added benefit of being understandable and simple for convention goers to accomplish. Here is a news flash: You cannot stop 100% of scalping. Yes, you can limit it, and we would argue the reasonable measures you had put in place, in the past, did well to do that. However, making people jump through flaming hoops of crap to buy tickets, only hurts actual fans. We guarantee with the utmost certainty that there will still be people on 34th street hawking passes regardless of your new draconian rules. It happens at sporting events, music concerts, and even movies, but those venues do not require that attendees offer up DNA verification or one of their first born as collateral.

NYCC, we know that you are just following the example of your older brother, SDCC, but there was still scalping at San Diego Comic Con this past year, regardless of their regulations. With hundreds of thousand of attendees, no verification process or registration process is going to stop all the scalped tickets from getting through the door. We are not condoning scalping, but we also do not condone policies that are aimed at assuming everyone is guilty of the crime unless proven otherwise. The real problem is that NYCC is punishing people who had no intention of scalping in the first place, instead of trying to encourage fans to attend this wonderful and amazing event.

As a final nail in the proverbial geek coffin, tickets cannot be purchased at any retailers. In the past fans were able to buy tickets at Midtown Comics or other local comic stores, but not this year. That means that you will not be getting many new attendees. Casual fans have now been excluded. Anyone who had a possible passing interest in checking out NYCC can no longer wait in line and buy a physical badge from their local comic store. If people were not made aware of the new fan verification process months in advance of ticket sales, then they stand little chance of getting a ticket. In essence, this policy is actually hurting nerd and geek culture by discouraging new people from going to conventions. That is incredibly disheartening, especially coming from a convention of which we have always been such big supporters. Yet, as long as you get paid, than maybe you don’t really care what this does to fans.

Trust us, you will get your money. You always do, but policies like this lay bare the fact that your money is all you care about. Unfortunately, that is not a surprise. As much as we have loved attending New York Comic Con, we have seen a trend in the past decade. NYCC used to be about fans, with small panels such as nerd rock concerts or video game improv, but the convention has changed. Long gone are the quirky fan events or intimate shows. They have been slowly replaced by big budget stage productions from giants like Marvel, DC, Legendary, and more. At some point the convention stopped being about us, the attendees, and started being about corporate sponsorship. This trend has finally culminated in the current ridiculous and convoluted ticket process that only proves that NYCC and ReedPOP don’t care about being loyal to the nerd and geek community. All you care about is the bottom line, and that is the worst tragedy of all.

So, it is with heavy hearts that we here at The NYRD must announce that we will not be attending your event this year. We can no longer support an organization that so blatantly disregards the very people that have helped make it what it is. Your policies will not stop scalping, but they will stop true fans from attending NYCC. You can bank on that.

Sincerely,
The NYRD

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