NYCC 2017: Reflection on the Pre-Lottery

By NCDS

Have you been hearing of the long lines at cons?  Are you dreading sleeping out or getting up early for a chance to get that special item?  Well, you’re not alone and New York Comic Con (NYCC) is trying to combat the long lines with pre-lotteries.  I have been on the floor where it is so crowded inside a booth that security is screaming at people to clear out.  Bottom line: it’s just not safe for the patrons or staff within booths patrons and the fire marshals don’t like it!

Now that the pre-lottery notifications are complete there bound to be mixed emotions. If you won what you wanted from the lottery then you are probably singing from the trees with happiness (maybe Bob Ross Trees?).  If you lost out on that must-have panel/vendor or got one thing that wasn’t at the top of your list, you are probably grumbling.  The lotteries aren’t about making us all happy though. They are there to give everyone a fair chance without having people sleep outside in unsafe neighborhoods, to prevent fire hazards, and to give you time to do other things. Also, convention organizers can focus security and other resources to events during con hours as opposed to deploying resources during overnight hours.  

At this time, I am undecided on whether or not I like lotteries.  There is something comforting about feeling like I’m in control of my own destiny.  Can it be tiring? YES!  I remember the first year my friend and I slept out at a con, we were so grumpy that our friendship almost didn’t survive!  Luckily, we talked things out and just got better at lines.  

The NYCC pre-lotteries submission selections were all on one form.  The form had different tabs for each day and then a second page where you entered how many of each item you wanted.  The available entries were classified into  two groups. In group one, you were allowed two selections and in group two you were allowed four selections. .  Depending on the selections available, participants could select up to 4-6 spots for panels, 1 for a vendor, and 2 for signings.  

I had some concerns with the NYCC pre-lotteries this year.  First, entry confirmations were not emailed or stored within your MY Show account after submission.  Once you entered the lottery, you were left to wonder if you got your email right, if you selected everything correctly, or if your entry had been thrown out.  NYCC had stated that any entries that were not from fan verified accounts with badges for that day would be thrown out.  This created concerns for those who won badges, have press or pro badges.  Luckily, ReedPop later announced that all attendees needed to do was fan-verify.   So I was puzzled by this: if you were fan-verified but didn’t buy a badge, how did ReedPop know if you had a badge for the days for which you requested panels/signings?

My second concern is with how late attendees received notification of the lottery results.  Specifically, the lottery confirmations were received a day later than scheduled.  This was part was understandable; if your system is having problems handling the large amount of data you want to take the time to ensure you email results in a complete and accurate manner.  However, from the attendee point of view, finding out the lottery results the Friday before the con makes it difficult for attendees to plan everything out.  When you are waiting to hear what time you may or may not be able to go buy an exclusive, it’s hard to commit to other events.  I was torn on accepting invites for offsite events, not knowing what my commitments on-site were.  If the lottery could be done a week earlier, this would be helpful.

Third, the lottery results were mixed.  Searching social media I was able find some people won several things and other people won one thing or nothing.  This leads me to believe that the lottery was truly random.  In my opinion you could tell it was partly due to the rules stated on the FAQ were not followed when entries for the lottery were selected.  For example, some winners won two to three slots to buy exclusives at certain vendors, when the limit was supposed to be one.  Luckily, ReedPop realized their error and posted a public statement that these second slots would be redistributed.  Unfortunately, the people who had already won were still not removed, and I even saw a post from one attendee who had his second lottery spot removed, yet then he won again.  I can’t help but wonder if the vendor lotteries should be separated to prevents this, since they have multiple time slots.

When entering the lottery selection form, you are of course thinking of what you want and want what your friends want.  This became a problem if you entered a vendor lottery for a friend.  I was told you could not change the email for exclusives.  This meant that if you won the panel you wanted and both you and your friend won the vendor, you could not turn down or re-assign the vendor slot.  I wonder if this means that there a times people won’t show up. Will there be standby lines established for such an occurrence? I don’t know how many vendor spots were open but I definitely read about more people losing than I did winning on forums such as the FoCC  and Funko Funantics.  It is also plausible with the popularity of Funko products people were scared to announce they won on social media so they would not get overwhelmed with requests for items.

Results for panels seemed to be very diverse. This may be due to there being more panels and therefore more winning spots.  My whole group won American Gods, and by the last email we were grumbling at the name because only three  of us wanted to go.  This means that a lot of American Gods spots were sent back into the universe.  It was stated in the FAQ that these would be re-distributed.  I hope this is the case.  I know that I have seen a lot of postings from people looking for panels.  I also saw people taking panel spots just in case they could make it.  We all know that at cons your plans can change in an instant. While the other half of the panel seating will be given out for the panels at the beginning of each morning it is unclear if they will allow more in beyond that if lottery winners don’t show up.

I don’t know much about the signings results, since no one in our group won and I did not see a lot of postings about attendees winning these slots.  I think the signings are very small though.  There may be as few as 100 spots for each signing.  With so few spots and so many people trying, I think chances for winning were slim.

What does this say about lotteries? It says that they are a work in progress.  There is a lot of improvement that needs to be made in order for me to feel confident in the lottery system.  I think NYCC may be onto something here and I look forward to their improvements in the future.  My overall advice is that if you are going to enter the NYCC lottery next year, enter for everything you want, because entering more than one thing did not hurt your chances of winning other things.    

We have yet to see how the lottery results will play out when filling panel rooms, but whatever happens there plenty going on so , I’m sure we are all going to have an amazing time at the con.

Are you going to to NYCC?  Tell us what your plans are on the FoCC!