New SDCC 2014 Badge prices, policies, and my thoughts

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Twitter lit up yesterday as Comic-Con posted their updated badge policy in preparation for this year’s pre-registration. As with year’s past, the registration process has evolved a bit. Here are the highlights to help you plan effectively:

  • To qualify for this Pre-registration sale, you must have bought a 2013 badge with your Member ID. This excludes professionals, guests of professionals, exhibitors, exhibitor purchased attendee badges, volunteers, staff, and press (opens later).
  • You MUST have your physical badge from 2013
  • Prices have increased by a few dollars each (graphic below)
  • No “4-Day” badge option will be available
  • Single Day badges will be the only option
  • Preview Night can be purchased ($35) IF you have purchased the other 4 days
  • Besides yourself, you can purchase for up to two other guests (total of 3). All must have Member ID and must be eligible for this Pre-registration
  • Those eligible for  the Pre-registration sale, will be notified via e-mail at least 48 hours in advance.

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The nerd rage continues. As with many changes over the past few years, there has been a lot of online negativity. Many fans have been clamoring about over-complexity, limited options, and hiked up prices. Some saying “new year, same old problems”, leading us to ask- why is Comic-Con trying to screw us?

My thoughts on this- we need to get over ourselves. Comic-Con is not trying to screw us, in fact, I believe they are working hard to make this process as best as possible. The constant comparison of how it ‘used to be’ does not help our current situation and only adds fuel to the fire of a stressful situation. I get that it’s really, really hard to make plans- especially if you are international and it pains me to read all the angst filled tweets. This is why I think we need to chill out:

  • Prices are always going to rise. That is a universal fact. The cost of the convention center, personnel, security, contractors, labor, licenses, fee, technology, etc.. all rise each year so naturally the badge prices will rise. Their day prices are still comparable to other cons and you still get the best show on Earth.
  • While I love owning a “4-day” badge, I thought it was about time for that to go away anyways. MANY 4-Day badges don’t get used to their fullest potential, only being used for 2-3 days. Purchasing will take the same amount of time and I’m sure the badges will be combined onsite so you don’t have to cue up every morning.
  • Preview Night at $35 may seem high, but I do think it needs to return to an exclusive opportunity for collectors and hardcore enthusiast. The past few years, it has been as crowded as a Friday and it has hurt the experience. While attending PN is a nice bonus, it’s really not necessary for the casual fan so the increased price should help weed out the impatient gawkers.
  • The chance to purchase for only three Members is not very much, but we all have to accept a reasonable number to keep it fair as possible. By allowing for 4-6 people to purchase significantly lowers how many different people would be able to experience Comic-Con.

970618569_fa7d4004f3_o-268x200The negative talk I keep hearing reminds me of the post-recession talk in 2009ish. Things will never return to ‘normal’. This IS the new normal. I know us nerds and geeks sometimes have a hard time letting go of the past, but we have to realize that San Diego Comic-Con has become one of the most premier events that the world has to offer. All this stress and effort isn’t for everyone- and fortunately there are plenty of other cons to experience if this is too exhausting for you. I remember walking up on Saturday and purchasing a ticket onsite back in 2006. Those were fond memories that I have let go of in leu of a new reality. For me, the badge/hotel gauntlet is a part of the whole journey to Comic-Con, making this a for the ‘con elite’. Life is about choices and as hard as it is, I choose to stay positive and hopeful. I believe that SDCC is making the hardest decisions possible for the benefit of the masses. As Spock and Kirk exchanged at the end of Star Trek II, “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few…” So let’s not turn this into the ‘Wrath of Con’ and instead focus our energies on helping each other navigate this new system. Ok, I’ll get off my proverbial soap box. Read their entire policy on the CCI website.

I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts. If you feel there is a better way or process that still benefits the masses, i’d love to know. Comment below!

42 thoughts on “New SDCC 2014 Badge prices, policies, and my thoughts

  1. I agree, Tony. Going for SDCC badges is always going to be a headache no matter what – anyone who’s gone knows this. Why knock a new system before it’s even used? We have no idea how it’s going to run. We can only hope it will be better than previous years. And yes, if you purchase all four days, they will combine them and give you a 4-day badge on site when you check in. I remember the days when you could register by mail….ah…the olden days ;0) SDCC grows by leaps and bounds every year. And like you say, the prices will go up every year. That’s nothing new. It’s been going up slowly every year. It’s called inflation. As for preview night, I don’t go anymore. Mainly for the reason you stated – it’s beyond crazy busy. There aren’t any panels going on to help spread the crowd, so everyone is in the main hall and it really does make for a bleak experience – at least in my opinion. So, my advice would be not to knock it until you’ve tried it. If registration blows harder than last year, well then fire away. ;0)

    • Thank you and great advice! I agree that if the new system works then all this complaining will go away. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Pingback: IMPORTANT:: 2014 SDCC Badge Changes and Prices! | Behind the Scenes Geek

  3. The “physical badge” requirement for pre-reg is being skipped this year, at least according to a footnote on the SDCC site:

    “*As a one-time courtesy, Comic-Con International will automatically enter your 2013 badge code for this year’s preregistration event.This one-time courtesy will apply to Comic-Con 2014 preregistration only. Attendees will be required to keep their physical Comic-Con 2014 badge and badge code to be eligible for Comic-Con 2015 preregistration. – See more at: http://www.comic-con.org/cci/2014-cci-badge-preregistration#sthash.Lmm8lXsV.dpuf

    • Thanks for the clarity. I guess they are just wanting to get us into the habit of keeping our badges (like we don’t already do that). Thanks for commenting!

  4. Some of us were left behind a couple of years ago when the option of purchasing the next years badge was made impossible by bad management. Once that happened, I haven’t been able to get tickets. What this has done is made us look at local conventions. I have to admit, I got more out of it than I expected.

    Good luck with this.

    • That’s a bummer. Yea, in any transition, people get lost in the cracks. I am glad though that you have enjoyed other cons. It’s been really good for me too.

  5. I don’t mind the price for preview night, but I do mind that you need to buy all 4 days to get it. What if you’re a person that wants to skip Sunday and really wants to go to preview night. Maybe you’ll spend that extra and then that Sunday is wasted – a pass that could have gone to someone else.

    • I agree with you totally on this! I was shocked that they would come up with a new system of single-day-only badge purchasing, but still insist on the preview night being tied to a “four day” badge purchase. This is a really bad idea, for just the reasons you have said, and it is as if their mindset is so linked to the past that they could not see beyond the previous years badge purchase structure. They don’t see the problem they have created by forcing people to buy all 4 days just to access preview night. Not only are you correct that they should have seperated out preview night and made it a stand alone single day purchase, but one year I myself attended preview night, but did not attend Sunday that year ….. proving your point exactly. Someone else would have been delighted to attend that Sunday instead.

      I also feel I have witnessed the hard core preview night collectors hitting the Con very hard Wednesday night and Thursday, but then finishing their bulk purchases and not attending much after that —- meaning all of the badges they are holding on to for the other days are not being used. I find it quite amazing that the Comic Con people who are restructuring the badge purchasing system could come up with the idea of single-day-only purchasing, but could overlook the fact that preview night being locked to 4 day badges has caused a major problem now for years. Preview night should be a stand alone purchase.

      • Yeah! If they’re worried about Preview Night being too crowded, all they need to do is limit the number of passes to a more manageable number. That’d probably even be easier than keeping track of what other days attendees have purchased tickets to. Some odd logic going on here.

      • Interesting thoughts and I agree on many of your points. I am eager to see how sales go and what ends up working for the fans. Thanks for commenting!

    • I guess it’s their way of keeping the Preview Night attendance down. I think next year they should try selling it separately as it’s own pass to see how it affects the fans. Thanks!

  6. The price increase isn’t a big deal. I look at it in terms of hours of enjoyment per dollar. I’ve gone to plenty of sporting events where I’ve paid $40-100+ for a single three hour game. $200 for Preview Night through Sunday is a bargain by comparison.

    That said, I’m not a fan of single day badges only. First of all, let’s say 10 people get every day except Thurs, 10 get everything but Fri, 10 get every day but Sat, and 10 get every day but Sun. Now there are 40 people competing for hotel rooms instead of 30. Hotels are already hard enough to come by, why add more stress to the equation? (I have the same worries about the convention center expansion project.)

    Additionally, its going to create a greater server load. Every extra step that an attendee has to go through raises the risk of a server crash. We all remember the 2012 fiasco, right?

    I truly believe off site prereg, like they did in 2011, was a nearly perfect solution. All that CCI needed to do was have a few volunteers doing head counts and watching for line cutting. Then they could have capped the line before it stretched all the way down the harbor. It was up to each attendee to determine if the effort/reward ratio was worth waiting in line, just like every other SDCC event.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. It’s hard to know exactly how this will impact the servers since we’d have to know more of the architecture of it. However, I do know without the 4-Day options, it’s less badge types to maintain inventory for. I wasn’t a fan of the onsite purchasing of badges since it ate into the con experience. To me this is the right track (with further tweaking). Thanks for commenting!

  7. I honestly am on the same page with you. I don’t understand why people are that hard on CCI. It is a MASSIVE undertaking to get this thing ready every year. There are costs tied into that, just like you highlighted. It’s not highway robbery, they prices are reasonable in my opinion.
    And I like the cut back to one plus two badge purchases, to give more people an option. This will leave more badges available for when regular registration opens. Can you clarify though, because I feel like I am getting mixed information. Is it One pre-reg can purchase up to 2 for people who have member-IDs? OR is it one Pre-reg can purchase up to 2 for ALSO 2013 attendees. It is how it made it sound. If this is clarified if would help extinguish part of the negative response ( as seen on twitter and in comments in other blogs/forums..).

  8. As an international person, I welcome the 4 individual badges option particularly after the lottery option/non international thing last year. Having a 4 day badge is great but for a lot of people it’s not needed as the number of off site events grows. I only had thursday and sunday last year and it was perfect for me.

  9. I also think that they should look at it the same way as massive ticket sales sites – such as ticketmaster. They have a shopping cart that gives you x amount of time ( ex. two minutes to complete the page and submit ). I envision something similar to this, and that WOULD be a step in the right direction.
    And regarding the hotel comment, I never thought of that. Yes, it could end up with more people vying for the same space. Then again…it’s not like someone who scored Preview, Thurs, Sat and Sun are going to give up their hotel room for that night. Not when it’s near impossible to score in the first place.
    And, I do love the idea that they reduced the purchase from pre-reg plus 5 down to two. It is making purchasing more fair that way. Soo if that’s the case, all the first over the days is moot. The same amount of people (returning 2013s) are not able to buy the same amount of badges (1+5)…seems to make sense mathematically.
    Still just hoping they do mean that currently it’s one plus two w/member IDs NOT with 2013 badges. That doesn’t make sense. IF they had the 2013 – they would already have the access like the rest of us and wouldn’t need someone to purchase. It’s other MemberID holders that would need them :)

  10. Some great points from everyone! I personally LOVE this change. I think it simplifies a lot, especially for CCI. Inventory is now much easier to keep track of, and with a decent cart system (last year’s wasn’t too bad) it should be easy to select all 4 days. Having built e-commerce sites before, I know that just having to keep track of one type vs. multiple types of items makes it easier to code, test, and make a more robust system.

    I do find the 4-day purchase requirement for Preview Night a bit odd, but I can see it as an attempt to limit attendance that night. And from everything I’ve read it does sound like everyone you’re buying for must be eligible for pre-reg, meaning they also have had attended in 2013. It sounds like CCI wants to limit the pre-reg purchase pool (how about THAT alliteration!) to only 2013 attendees. As much as I understand that, I do wish I could purchase for a couple of friends that haven’t gone yet. I NEED to share the SDCC love :)

  11. I think the sentence that summarizes your post perfectly is, “This IS the new normal.” It’s normal for people to over react to changes because of the fear that the new way will be worse than the previous way. Every change has negatives and positives, and I think you summed it up great. Nice writeup, and I hope to meet you at a convention soon.

  12. SDCC was on my bucket list, but unless a miracle occurs I’m likely never to get in. I read blogs and see the processes it takes to MAYBE get tickets, it just seems that it’s WAY too stressful . . . and really I can’t see topping a lot of what happened last year.

    On the up side my home state just had its first CC last year with record attendance. I WON a free 3 day pass for this April’s event. You can’t beat that. So I’m sticking to and supporting my local con.

    • I want to personally congradulate you on WINNING a 3 day pass to your local Con this year!! This is awesome!!!!! As Tony says here, and often points out in other posts, the local and smaller Cons offer a much more personal and much less stressed con-going experience. What you might not realize is how much fun you really are having, as opposed to the hyper stress of SDCC, which is very draining. There will always be reasons why San Diego is important to all of us —- certain experiences are unmatched, and I personally maintain certain contacts when attending —- but the strain of all of it is becoming a tremendous burden. The pure fun of the more casual local Cons should be celebrated, and you can make friends there that you will have for years. You have the right attitude about your situation. We should all support our local events. I wish you the best with your ***FREE*** pass for your April event!!

      • Thanks for your comment. Yea, there is plenty of nerds to go around. While nothing matches the spectacle of SDCC, the smaller Cons offer great accessibility.

  13. I agree with your thoughts, Tony. I think most of it makes sense and it will work out for the best. There can be some frustrating things with Comic-con, but to me, this isn’t one of them, and I think they are doing their best.

  14. Phew, thank heavens I live in Wales and can do without all this complicated – and expensive – preregistration business! Admittedly, our Cardiff Comic-Con was fairly miniscule in comparison with San Diego’s event but hey, I got chased by a Dalek, received a charming smile from former Dr. Who star Tom Baker and got to see Buffy’s watcher Anthony Head. What more could an ageing nerd-girl want for a ticket price of just £10? Next Cardiff Comic-Con event takes place on 1st and 2nd March, in case any of you happen to be visiting the UK this spring:)

  15. I think that the single day purchase is great for the panel goers, the ones that go to cons for their particular show/movie panels. For people that want to experience the con itself, its bad. Every day there is something to do on the con floor. I love the excitement, the surprises and the discovery of the exhibition hall. I understand the business side of it, but it seems to be turning to more of an industry convention than a fan experience.

  16. I have no problem with day passes but they should have the schedule up before sales then. it’s bloody hard to choose which days to buy if you don’t know what is on which day

    • Yea that would be nice but it won’t happen. The schedule can’t finalize till a few weeks from the show. It would be awesome though! Thx for commenting.

  17. To be honest, I have enjoyed the “shadow cons” that occur during SDCC more than many of the big SDCC panels. There was so much to do outside the con, I barely went to anything at the actual con (the insane lines made matters worse). But even without a schedule, SDCC follows a pattern for their panels. Sunday usually has the Dr Who panel, Saturday will probably have the Marvel panel. Friday will have some big network (not cable) TV panels, Thursday will have a mix of less popular or new TV and movies. Friday and Saturday are usually the big event days.

  18. I don’t care for the “2 other guests” restriction. Last year my husband and I and another couple all tried to get in, only one person was successful on their laptop, so she was able to purchase badges for all 4 of us (2 couples). This year if that happens again we are SOL. The hassle is starting to become less and less worth it, as much as I love comic con, this year (if we get in) may be our last year. I just don’t think I have the energy anymore to deal with all the crowds and so on. Last year I had to take Monday off to 1- recoup, and 2- get all the stuff I would normally do over the weekend done.

    I still encourage people to go, if they can get in!

    • Yea, the numbers are hard no matter what they end up being. I know they are trying to give as many people as possible options to buy for others. I get your frustration and hope it works out for you this year. Thanks for commenting!

  19. As someone who has never been able to get into SDCC (I live on the east coast and the years I could have gone, I didn’t know anyone who could get me a badge) I’m really excited for the change in buying extra badges. I’ve never been able to get a badge when they went on sale for the public and feel like I actually have a chance this year if pre-reg is truly limited to people who went last year. I am sorry for people who this may screw over, but it just means that people who haven’t been and want to go have to work for it themselves and I’m okay with that. The old system really hurt people who didn’t have a contact already attending and really wanted to go to the convention.

  20. I still think that not being able to buy a pass for someone else is lame. My buddy that I usually go with can’t go this year, and I wanted to buy a ticket for my brother instead. But since he doesn’t have a ticket from last year looks like I have to hope to get lucky later? Or am I wrong that the other people must have a memberID AND be eligible for preregistration? Really don’t want to go solo this year…

    • You are right. You can NOT buy a badge during preregistration for a member who did NOT attend last year. And that puts you in this horrible situation where you can get a badge for yourself, but you can not get a badge for your brother. If he, or other friends of yours, can’t manage to get badges during the open sale later on, you would be stuck alone. And even if he could manage to purchase a badge during open sales, what if the only badge left that he can get is for a different day than yours! I have know this to happen with adults and their own children! I feel very sorry for people who are in this situation — and there are A LOT of people just like you out there. I read their comments … just like yours here. You are not alone with this problem.

      You should, of course, buy badges for yourself if you get into the shopping cart and there are still badges left. You might still be able to go with someone and it will work out. Or you could apply to CCI up until May for a full refund of your badges if you felt uncomfortable going alone. But you could consider braving SDCC alone. There are still MANY interesting experiences that you have when alone. I encourage you to still consider this …. you might enjoy yourself very much, even if it was not as you originally planned it to be.

  21. Just got badges for myself and my spouse today. The process wasn’t too difficult. I would say the hardest part is not knowing where you were in line. I got into the waiting room right at 7am although it said it didn’t matter what time you went in between 7am and 9am. Didn’t get in to buy tickets until 9:30am and by then Wednesday preview night was already sold out. A friend of mine went into the waiting room at 8 am and got in faster than I did so it was definitely random. Am very glad I got tickets though as this will be the second Comic Con that we will be attending, but the first time we got all four days. Last year, we weren’t able to get tickets during the general sale because they sold out before we could get into the waiting room on the computer. We were lucky in getting picked for the lottery for the resale but only managed to snag a couple of days. Still we had a great time at Comic Con last year and made some new friends that we are meeting up again with this year. It is definitely harder for first timers or people who didn’t go last year to get tickets but don’t give up! Try during the general sale and if not then, apply for the lottery for the resale. Gotta be persistent.

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