PAX Scalpers Aren't the Villains You Think They Are

PAX Scalpers Aren't the Villains You Think They Are

Despite the sometimes shady nature of the practice, scalpers at PAX offer a valuable service, albeit at an extreme markup.

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Buying tickets from people who are too stupid to return for a full refund and selling them at higher than value cost to other people who are too slow or have no friends/connections to get them legit? No, they're exactly the villains I thought they were. They just aren't singlehandedly ruining conventions, as sensationalist media and corporate bullshit would have us believe.

Did you ever wonder why the tickets sell out so quickly? or why they're getting more and more expensive every year, despite costs remaining relatively steady and companies/contributors all-but-literally throwing money at the show? It's because of this exact practice. Aftermarket trading is a thing, and it's costing YOU money... well, maybe not you specifically, Mr. "Press Badge", but everyone else who might have wanted to go.

But no, by all means, defend them, make them to be your goddamned heroes. Let's all praise these street-level saints, generously taking money from the unwashed masses (you've been to conventions, you know it to be true) and letting us experience something we thought wasn't available to us... until the press floods the internet with rushed, low-quality "coverage" of panels consisting of "hey look at how famous I am now! pay attention to me some more while I do a thing I always do or would have done anyway for my own profit!" and shakycam video of some game that's going to be topped instantly by the developer/producer posting direct feed on Youtube literally the day after PAX ends...

...I think I may be a bit bitter.

Why don't they move to a larger venue, say, San Diego, which can obviously handle the traffic. They become a bigger event, get more money, and attendees get to go to PAX. Everybody wins. There's simply no reason to keep doing what they're doing.

2xDouble:
... well, maybe not you specifically, Mr. "Press Badge", but everyone else who might have wanted to go.

But no, by all means, defend them, make them to be your goddamned heroes. Let's all praise these street-level saints, generously taking money from the unwashed masses (you've been to conventions, you know it to be true) and letting us experience something we thought wasn't available to us... until the press floods the internet with rushed, low-quality "coverage" of panels consisting of "hey look at how famous I am now! pay attention to me some more while I do a thing I always do or would have done anyway for my own profit!" and shakycam video of some game that's going to be topped instantly by the developer/producer posting direct feed on Youtube literally the day after PAX ends...

Now wouldn't that be an interesting piece to put together?

Just why are the gaming press still relevant at conventions? Any takers, Escapist staff?

These people are everywhere and they will be there. It's a fact of these things.
No bigger convention center would solve that, at some point the concept of the show is at it's maximum capacity.
It would not solve anything to get more people into it so even more people wait at the booths.
What comes to mind would be a ticket exchange officially set up by PAX.
They work out an official map of how much your badge is worth at which point in time and you can sell your badge there for a reasonable price.
Other people can come and buy these badges, maybe for a small fee for the PAX people and at the current price the chart says it is worth.
At this exchange there is a 1-per-person limit.

But then again this system would have a financial risk involved for PAX, so.. no.
The alternative would be that you give your badge to them and you get back whatever money was payed for the badge after the convention.
That would have the risk of getting no money and people would turn to scalpers again, I guess...

But it could help and make the whole thing a little more fair.

Defective_Detective:

2xDouble:
... well, maybe not you specifically, Mr. "Press Badge", but everyone else who might have wanted to go.

But no, by all means, defend them, make them to be your goddamned heroes. Let's all praise these street-level saints, generously taking money from the unwashed masses (you've been to conventions, you know it to be true) and letting us experience something we thought wasn't available to us... until the press floods the internet with rushed, low-quality "coverage" of panels consisting of "hey look at how famous I am now! pay attention to me some more while I do a thing I always do or would have done anyway for my own profit!" and shakycam video of some game that's going to be topped instantly by the developer/producer posting direct feed on Youtube literally the day after PAX ends...

Now wouldn't that be an interesting piece to put together?

Just why are the gaming press still relevant at conventions? Any takers, Escapist staff?

Not staff, but I'll take a stab at it. The point of press and journalists is the same in gaming as it is everywhere; if no one is available to ask questions, then we have to accept what is told to us, whether it comes from the PR teams of corporations, governments, or anyone else. I remember asking some questions during the leadup to D&D 5E when the staff started doing coverage of that, complaining that they had Mike Mearls in the room but hadn't addressed some big issues with the game as it was presented. The guy who ran the interview responded (basically Mearls danced around the issues when originally asked), and sure enough those questions were asked of Mearls again more forcefully later, by the Escapist and other press. The system is not perfect, but it's better than being spoon-fed every detail.

OT: Interesting coverage. I don't agree with scalping as a practise, but I can see the value to certain people (and yes, it is taking more money from people than they would have to pay otherwise; that's called turning a profit, while giving those people the option to pay $80 and see the show, or $0 and not see it, as they missed the opportunity to pay regular price).

It's only a matter of time before PAX badges are doled out with a lottery to keep things "fair"

I don't even bother. I went to PAX East for a while, but by the third year it was already a case of Either playing 3 or 4 games or going to 2 panels, with the rest of the day spent waiting in line to do those things. Now the only reason I go to any conventions is to buy things I didn't know I wanted.

2xDouble:
Did you ever wonder why the tickets sell out so quickly? or why they're getting more and more expensive every year, despite costs remaining relatively steady and companies/contributors all-but-literally throwing money at the show? It's because of this exact practice. Aftermarket trading is a thing, and it's costing YOU money... well, maybe not you specifically, Mr. "Press Badge", but everyone else who might have wanted to go.

The tickets tend to sell out at the speed of light because it's a hugely popular event with limited space. More importantly, I don't understand how aftermarket trading can impact the show at all. The way I understand it:

1) They sold out. They literally could not be gaining more money from selling tickets because there are no tickets left to sell. The most this can do is impact peoples' spending on merchandise in the convention, and even that is a dubious "cost" because the people buying from scalpers are people that wouldn't be able to spend any money at the convention whatsoever if they hadn't been able to get tickets outside.
2) If PAX refunded the cost of the ticket it costs the convention money, and if they resell the tickets then they're going to sell it either at cost or at a markup, which is exactly what the scalpers are doing.

I could absolutely be wrong, and please correct me if I am (I don't want to spread misinformation) but I think it's a little unfair to say that scalpers are directly, and implied solely, responsible for the ticket prices going up.

The problem with ticket scalping is simple: increase the cost of each ticket. Anytime you completely sell out of everything, you are selling it for too low. Once the price is high enough that people can just buy strait from the venue because there are available tickets, the scalpers cannot compete with the venue. Granted, you don't want *many* free tickets available, you just gotta find that balance. After selling out last year in minutes, the solution was obvious, but of course, they didn't take it.

I've always wondered about the people with signs that say "need tickets" outside of the my local football and basketball games. There are always enough empty seats. Why couldn't they just buy tickets online or elsewhere, I wondered?

But if they're just reselling them, that makes more sense.

Zero=Interrupt:
Why don't they move to a larger venue, say, San Diego, which can obviously handle the traffic. They become a bigger event, get more money, and attendees get to go to PAX. Everybody wins. There's simply no reason to keep doing what they're doing.

simple they have a better relationship with the city of Seattle and as such get space at cost. in other words its cheaper to keep it were it is.
OT: about half these guys are creeps but the other half actually are pretty nice. That said I still don't like seeing them at the entrance as I feel like im being rude when I walk past them.

Okay, this might be crazy, but I have an idea that would:

1. Reduce the number of scalpers.
2. Provide a safe, consumer friendly method of getting into conventions late.
3. Make more money for the convention.

Create a "buy back booth" at the Con. Somewhere near the front counter, have an official resale booth. Leaving the Con early? Toss in your badge, get a portion of the cost back for each unclaimed day. (Or a tiny kicker/novelty for same day if not in the last hour.) This same booth can then offer these markdown "used" badges for sale each day.

This would remove falsified scalper badges from circulation, it would provide a long tail for convention income, and allow otherwise locked out persons to become satisfied customers.

No. Just no. Fuck these people.
If you buy a ticket just to sell it back for a profit, you are a parasite. End of story.

DirgeNovak:
No. Just no. Fuck these people.
If you buy a ticket just to sell it back for a profit, you are a parasite. End of story.

Except, that's not the end of the story. I can't help but thing you didn't even bother reading the story.

They buy tickets from people who still have time left, but who are done for the day - then sell them to people who would otherwise not be able to get into the convention.

That's a bit like saying "If you buy clothes just to sell them back for a profit, you are a parasite." which is literally what every clothing store does. Or are you under the false impression that they buy up all the tickets before the event begins so that people HAVE to come to them? Because the article clearly lays out why that's very unlikely to be a significant factor.

If they're scalping legit tickets, that's one thing.

If they're selling forgeries- which as I recall has been a problem before-, yes, they are the villains we think they are. Worse, even.

Scalpers are always removing the profit off the venue and putting into their own pockets. There is no defense to that insentive and they will always be seen as thieves for doing that.

The problem with allowing scalping to become a legitimate business is that once you accept it under a certain condition you are opening the floodgates for scalpers to legitimately operate under any conditions.

I know that in Korea it's popular to scalp Apple Genious bars appointments and in China scalping has become so bad that they are actually scalping doctor appointments... I am not making this up

It's very easy to stop them and yet nobody seems to care in any way shape or form.

CyberAkuma:
Scalpers are always removing the profit off the venue and putting into their own pockets. There is no defense to that insentive and they will always be seen as thieves for doing that.

How so?

As far as this piece informed us they don't tend to buy tickets and resell them with a mark up. They buy tickets that are already bought and paid, meaning the convention got the money for the ticket, the original buyer is done using it and someone is willing to pay for a used badge.

That's not removing any money from the convention. If anything, it might give them money as the second entrant might spend money there.

I'm guessing scalping isn't illegal in the USA? The reason I ask is that reselling tickets at above face value IS illegal in the part of Canada I live so this whole article didn't make much logical sense unless it IS legal in the USA.

shirkbot:

I could absolutely be wrong, and please correct me if I am (I don't want to spread misinformation) but I think it's a little unfair to say that scalpers are directly, and implied solely, responsible for the ticket prices going up.

They're not solely responsible, though I did unintentionally imply they were. The fact is, its an entire ecosystem of idiocy and exploitation. People buy the products en-masse without fear because they believe they can recoup losses selling what they don't use; demand remains high, leading to significant markup in aftermarket trading, thus revealing higher market tolerance; higher market tolerance is used by original issuers to justify increases in pricing; higher prices (falsely) imply higher quality and therefore artificially inflate demand; inflated demand triggers purchases en-masse, and the cycle continues. More and more money gets drained from the consumers, who have no say in the matter, other than to not buy the product at all.

We see this same thing happening in any of the collectible markets. This sort of thing nearly destroyed the comic book industry several times over (though not exactly this, admittedly) and has eaten more than its share of card shops.

I just find it personally distasteful to glorify collectors of table scraps from the Decadent Dumb, who then sell it to even more decadent and dumb for the cost of an entire meal. And why buy scraps? because that particular meal won't be available to the public for a couple of weeks? The thought of gaming communities, to whom I once aligned and allied, reduced to that... it sickens me.

Yes, scavengers are indeed necessary to any ecosystem, but none of the participants glorify the vermin responsible. (In fact... perhaps we should dive further into naturalism and start eating them.)

Screw it! I'm making my own gaming convention... with Blackjack, and Hookers.

Have the Convention put out their own Ticket Scalpers, offer legitimacy and undercut the independents. Push the small-timers out. It worked for MMORPGs like Runescape, EVE Online, and Wildstar when it came to the Real World Traders. There's a market here, and there's clear abuse because right now it's a "Black Market"; if they take over the Market, they can get rid of abuse.

 

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