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Behind the Counter

The Big 3

by Marcus King
Sep 13,2004


The Big 3

By Marcus King, TitanGames.com

Many retailers talk amongst themselves about what are the big 3. Nearly all agree that it is Games Workshop, Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast, and WizKids. Those three companies probably represent about 70% of the hobby-game market (excluding video games from that market, but counting all table top, role playing, collectible and card games).

When I talk about "The Big 3" I am talking about Origins, GenCon and DragonCon. We attended each this year. It was fun, and profitable.

Origins has "always" been my favorite. I make more money in sales from Origins than any other con. Till this year, Origins alone was my top 3 cons, ever, with GenCon being 4-6. Origins this year was exciting! A new high attendance level (14,000+) and I "advised" the auction, and got to hang out in Columbus all week without working my booth!! My crew did great, and my kids had a good time. Kattarina, my youngest daughter, volunteered and got one of the cool "Blue GAMA Shirts" for her work at the auction - something even I could not get!! We made money, visited with friends, and had fun. Origins is still my favorite Game convention!

Gencon in Indianapolis, Indiana, was GREAT this year, too!! Our GenCon this year was our best sales at any GenCon ever, and was our second best convention ever (second only to this years Origins!). The attendance was way up from last year - and Peter A and crew fixed EVERY problem we encountered from the previous year. I really appreciated that! Registration moved FAST (compared to the year before) and everyone was friendly! Helpful! Nice!

Now about Dragon Con. First, let me say that Dragon Con is NOT Origins, and not Gencon. See, it is bigger - more people, bigger city, very sprawling. There are two dealers rooms (though they call one the Exhibit Hall). One is a bit cheaper, one a bit more expensive, and a little nicer. We were in the Exhibit Hall, and it was great. More on that in a bit.

DragonCon is not a game con at all - it is a culture con, which means media stars, comic and other artists, vendors of every imaginable collectible and type crowd the two halls, and artists crowd the hallways with tables of stuff. This con ROCKS. I will NEVER miss DragonCon again. Never.

There is so much costuming that there was literally (I estimate) 5000 people in costumes from Sailor Moon, to SpiderMan, all the Avengers, women dressed up in Dominatrix garb leading men on leashes, and vice versa - as well as kids, gamers, collectors, sci-fi fans, authors, artists and autograph hounds. It was much more diverse than any con I have attended thus far.

We did well with our standard fare of games. The vendor to each side of us sold swords, and were as bush as we were. The artists were swamped, the celebrities were swamped, the T-Shirt vendors were swamped! It was a great con. Owned and ran by Pat and Sherry Henry, of Titan Games and Books (not affiliated in any way with my company, titangames.com) the show is clearly one of the best privately owned cons in the world.

Plus, there are a LOT of Waffle House restaurants in Atlanta, and I ate at every one of them (or, at least, we tried!).

My highlights of the show:

A. I bought another Kilt from the guys at Utilikilt.
B. I bought an old west style six-shooter replica from J&J Blades.
C. I met Margaret Weis of Sovereign Stone Press.
D. I met some cool people, including one really pretty blonde Judge (I mean, like, runs a courtroom style judge). Man, she was a cutie!
E. I met hired a new helper who really worked his butt off!
F. We made money.
G. People kept coming up and mentioning that they liked my articles on RPG.NET (Thanks, guys and gals - but I really do it for the big bucks they pay [kidding])
H. Tom Savini, a famous FX Makeup artist, had his booth across the aisle, which was really cool!
I. I mentioned the Judge, right?
J. The costumes!! Wow, you just gotta attend DragonCon to know of what I speak. Man, there were probably 2000 Goth Chicks - and I love Goth Chicks!!!!!

Overall, Dragon Con is my new favorite con to attend. Origins will remain my favorite Game Con, but Dragon con edges it out in the cool factor.

But, that is the great thing about cons - one size does not fit all!! The "S&M" crowd of people who attended Dragon Con wouldn't really find things they liked at Origins, I feel. Many family oriented gamers wouldn't perhaps feel comfortable around all the skimpily clad women at DragonCon.

Me, I like all of the Big 3 Cons we attended this year.

Now, we are loading the truck tonight to go to the Charlotte County Fair's Flea market in Charlotte, Michigan. It is an experiment we are doing. The fair draws 75000 people. I have no idea if we will make $10,000 in sales, or $100 in sales - but the booth was cheap, the people friendly, the weather suitable, the facilities indoors, and - well, who doesn't love a fair? If nothing else, we will eat LOTS of corn dogs, elephant ears and taco burgers, and come home well entertained.

If you can make it to Charlotte, stop in and say howdy! Uh, I probably WON'T wear my kilt to the fair. See, it's safe!

Marcus King
637 Capital Ave SW
Battle Creek, MI 49015

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What do you think?

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All Counter Talk columns by Marcus King

  • On Discounting by Marcus King, 15dec05
  • Think Different by Marcus King, 11oct05
  • GENCON, August, and TitanGames by Marcus King, 29aug05
  • Another Month at Titan Games by Marcus King, 06jul05
  • The Past Week at TitanGames by Marcus King, 10may05
  • The GAMA Trade Show by Marcus King, 13apr05
  • Con Jobs by Marcus King, 08mar05
  • Don't Skip The Retailer by Marcus King, 11feb05
  • How To Open Your Own Game Store by Marcus King, 14jan05
  • The Christmas Crunch by Marcus King, 22dec04
  • Light at the End of the Convention Tunnel by Marcus King, 15nov04
  • What It Takes To Open a Game Store by Marcus King, 15oct04
  • The Big 3 by Marcus King, 13sep04
  • Discoveries by Marcus King, 11aug04
  • Con-Man by Marcus King, 19jul04
  • Turmoil by Marcus King, 16jun04
  • Business is Business by Marcus King, 12may04
  • GAMA On! by Marcus King, 09mar04
  • On A Serious Note by Marcus King, 10feb04
  • Predictions for 2004 by Marcus King, 20jan04
  • Game Retailer or Game Club? by Marcus King, 11dec03
  • The Weather Changes... by Marcus King, 11nov03
  • The Deluge of Dead Products by Marcus King, 14oct03
  • The Conventional by Marcus King, 11sep03
  • Solutions to Problems and Good Feelings by Marcus King, 11aug03
  • Two weeks in the life of a retailer by Marcus King, 16jul03
  • In Store Gaming, and our love-hate relationship with it by Marcus King, 12jun03
  • Raising a Good Retailer by Marcus King, 28apr03
  • The customer is always right (right?) by Marcus King, 02apr03
  • Introductions by Marcus King, 24mar03
  • Jumping the Grand Canyon with Pikachu and Friends December 20, 1999
  • GTS'99 April 20, 1999

    Other columns at RPGnet

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