Unlucky fans attempt to buy their way into BlizzCon. Welcome to BlizzCon 2008.
Every year, thousands of fans gather in Anaheim to celebrate their favorite Blizzard titles. Having made its debut appearance in 2005, this annual event boasts over 16,000 attendees for the 2008 show that kicks off in a few hours. "16,000 you say? Impressive!", if you consider the fact that Blizzard cut off the registration a few days after tickets went on sale – it's no unreasonable claim to say that the number of fans here would easily be doubled had Blizzard allowed for that to happen.
Since BlizzCon is widely considered the "hottest enthusiast fan event of the year," it's no surprise that fans were already lined up outside as early as 10am on Thursday; 6 hours before registration opened. During these hours of anticipation I joined my fellow players to talk about the event, what everyone was most excited about and of course, what surprise items would be in the highly coveted "goody bag". On that note, I'd like to salute Blizzard for handing out one of the most rewarding bag o loots that I’ve ever received at a Convention.
I was surprised to see how many selfless people there were waiting for the doors to open. Players were literally going out of their way for one another to make the experience as pleasant as possible. I spoke with a player named Mark, who plays a 70 Warlock on Demonsoul, handing out Mountain Dew. He took it upon himself to leave the line for a Mountain Dew run. I asked him what he was doing and he said, "We were all thirsty just waiting in line and there were people that didn't want to lose their spot so I just went up to the local gas station and instead of buying drinks for only myself, I bought two-twelve packs of Mountain Dew and sold them to people, but not for profit of course, just to break even." Players waiting in line jumped at the opportunity to buy a beverage without losing their place in line.
When the doors opened at 4pm everyone in line managed to squeeze inside only to wait another 30 minutes. Once Blizzard started to hand out the badges, the process was relatively quick and painless. As the attendees ventured outside with their new found badges and loot, they were greeted by something most didn’t expect: hordes of individuals offering to buy badges and the loot card that Blizzard handed out.
I spoke to the first "consumer" who approached me about buying my loot card. "Sell me your loot card for $100?" he asked. I declined his offer but asked him why he was willing to spend so much money. He answered "I'm trying to get a badge to get in and I'm also trying to get one of the loot cards that come with the goody bag that you get when you get a ticket". He said "I came from Kansas all the way here just to try because I tried online three different nights, no luck, so I'm pretty much forced to buy from random strangers."
Another unlucky fan approached me quickly asking if I would be willing to part with one of my badges. Shaking my head no, I could see the emotion on his face turn from excited to distraught. I asked his opinion as to what caused the snafu, he commented about how Blizzard should have used a third-party service like Ticketmaster replied "Well, Ticketmaster is designed to handle things like this -- the load was just too great and Blizzard simply couldn't handle it which lead to a lot of upset players." He continued "I made it to the final purchase screen a couple of times. There were so many people trying to purchase a ticket it wouldn't let me through."
It’s unfortunate that so many loyal fans were affected in such a negative way. I've read countless blogs, columns and comments in the official forums from outraged players that already had their trip booked and paid for only to find out they weren't able to get tickets. What's worse, one of the local papers here in Orange County picked up on the disaster and turned it into a story. According to the local reporters that I've spoke to thus far -- none of them are surprised that there are so many fans here trying to 'reverse-scalp' tickets.
I suppose the fans will forgive Blizzard and with any luck it will be handled better in 2009. After all, Blizzard is known for its high quality of service and of course the amazing products that keep their customers coming back time and time again. That said, the groups of players, families and friends who were affected by this were willing to spend the money to attend. They're not the kind of customers you want to have pissed at you. Until next time, so long!
Andrew "Tamat" Beegle