How to judge how well your event will do at MACE?

How do  you think this game will do at MACE?

I think this new game will be HUGE at MACE, don’t you?  It was huge at GenCon!

I can not count the number if times I have heard statements like this only to see an event fail or get far less than the space I allocate for it.  What is at the core of this problem?  One simple word.  Scaling.

I realize that not everyone understands or even knows the size MACE as compared to something like GenCon.  Especially first timers that might be expecting something close to GenCon.  So I decided to put things in perspective so that when you approach MACE with a new event, you will get some idea of what to expect. This applies primarily to most tabletop games except RPGs and primarily large events like tournaments,etc.

In a lot of ways, MACE is like a much smaller GenCon.  In other ways, it is nothing like GenCon.  I have been to GenCon and thoroughly enjoyed myself, but the size of GenCon can be misleading when you are looking to run a game at MACE.  If you have never been, ask people that have.  It’s important to understand the market, the community and the scales of what we are dealing with.

GenCon 2017 had over 60,000 attendees this year.  To many that is just a number.  To contrast, MACE had 710 attendees in 2016.  That is one of the largest MACE events we have had but as compared to something like GenCon, it is tiny.  I realize there is no comparing MACE to GenCon as a whole, but there is a way to use GenCon to get an idea of what to expect from MACE.  So we are starting out knowing that MACE is a very small fraction – 1.183% of GenCon’s attendance as a whole, based on the above numbers.

Now, suppose you are convinced that your event will do well at MACE because you saw say 1200 people playing it at GenCon.  Assuming that there is a one-to-one relationship between those that go to GenCon and those that go to MACE, that means the same percentage would play that game at MACE. That adds up to 14 people (1200 of 60K is 2% and 2% of 710 is 14.2).

However, there is not a one-to-one relationship.  Many convention attendees ONLY go to the big ones and ignore the small ones like MACE – something I generically would call a community factor.  It would be generous to say maybe 40% of likely convention attendees would only attend large conventions, meaning 60% of potential convention attendees in the community would come to MACE.  That brings it down even lower – 60% of 14 is 8.  Now this 60% may fluctuate based on the community we are dealing with, however.  For example, MACE has struggled with getting any kind of Magic, the Gathering players to come to MACE.  So I would say that factor is more like 1% coming to MACE.  On the other hand, we have reasonable success with Warmachine and Hordes, so maybe that factor is a little higher.  X-Wing for us has been up and down for us, depending on the community.

Additionally, different games have had different impacts in different states.  Warmachine might have a major impact in the Carolinas but Warhammer might have a stronger impact in say Tennessee or some other place like that.  The best way to get an idea of that is look at social media and what groups have the most people in the region.

If you do not go to GenCon and have no idea the numbers that had for a certain game or event, I suggest asking someone who did go.  Or ask the publisher about the attendance at GenCon for their events.  Once you have that, you can easily get some realistic numbers as to what to expect at MACE.  Once you put some kind of realistic scaling in place, you will have an idea of what kind of space you will need.  One thing that drives me crazy is allocating a ton of table space only to have half or even none of it used because of poor understanding of the community and the scale of MACE.

I hope this helps put things in perspective.