With a new move that's causing backlash over the methods on paying for convention costs, the upcoming Everfree Northwest MLP convention has decided to mix things up by adding what some are referring to as "Convention DLC" - by charging patrons for single exclusive events, should they decide to pay extra for them. These costs are on top of what most con-goers pay for, and of course, are voluntary.
The concept of paying for a higher-priced badge, in order to have access to exclusive events/items at conventions is nothing new. Ever since the first Brony conventions back in 2011, there has been a practice where most conventions sell unlimited regular passes, and limited higher-priced passes in exchange for more things that regular patrons would not have access to, such as exclusive dinners with the VA's, head-of-the-line privileges, convention exclusive merchandise, and so on. The general idea is that, the more expensive the badge, the more access one receives - though they are a one-time payment made in advance, prior to the convention starting.
We have learned that most of the convention funds are made in the last few days prior to the con, and during the convention itself; starting off the con weekend having made about 40%~60% of their sales - with the rest being sold at the door. Therefore, given the venue's demands for partial payment up front before the convention even starts, the following actions made by EFNW to cover the normal operating costs don't seem to make a lot of sense from a con-goer's perspective, they make perfect sense from the convention's standpoint (seeing as their goal is not to be in the red) - and is the source of the backlash we've been hearing about.
So Everfree Northwest decided to shake things up a bit by not only having such expensive badges, but by having most of them pay extra for some "exclusive" events that, some of which but not all, are normally free. It should be noted, that the last Brony convention to pull a stunt such as this was Las Pegasus Unicon. And we all remember what happened with that particular convention.
Going for a very hefty price of $2,500 USD, the "Tree of Friendship" badge gets one pretty much everything, including a comped room and, more importantly, the "Tickets Included for First Access to purchase exclusive event tickets."
Everyone else gets to stand in a line to pay for tickets for each individual paywall event, with higher sponsors getting head-of-the-line privileges. That is something new, and based on the reactions so far, not being received very well.
IMPORTANT: We do not know at the present time if these extra proceeds go to EFNW as income, charity, or even as profit. Based on whom the events are catered around, we are making the assumption that they are income for balancing the convention's budget - that is, paying off the VA's, the venue, etc; which is normal behavior for a convention. What's disturbing is how they're going about it.
With insider knowledge gleaned from someone who knows just how much conventions cost, and the actions required to balance the budget; paying off the venue, the Guests of Honor's agents, etc. - it is then understandable why they would do this, for running conventions are expensive and most are lucky to break even in most cases. Other conventions have stopped operating entirely due to the rising costs (we are told this is mostly due to agent's charging higher appearance fees for the Guests of Honor) whilst con attendance plateaus or even dips in comparison with the previous years.
Still, offering it in the form of DLC is probably not the best way to do it, should these conventions continue. As the saying goes, you cannot squeeze blood out of a stone. That, or the agents managing the special guests should start charging fees based on what they're worth, rather than constantly inflating the price as years go on, forcing the conventions to raise their prices in turn by adopting more outlandish ways of doing so, thereby alienating some of their customers in the process. As far as our experiences are, and that of others', no other convention even dares to tread this far.
Note that the events listed on the schedules with the golden ticket icon are the ones where most patrons have to pay extra, on top of their badge, to get into. And these tickets are only good for the event one purchases them for, so to get into the other ones, one must purchase yet another ticket. At last we understand why people are calling this "Convention DLC"
>CMC Reunion Dinner - $250
Time: 17:30-19:30Enjoy a VIP Dinner with the Cutie Mark Crusaders and their super parents! Featuring Maddy Peters, Claire and Ian Corlett, Michelle, Monique, and Michael Creber, and Gabriel Brown (a.k.a. Black Gryph0n) $250 per person.
>Just Desserts VIP Social - $100
Time: 20:00-22:00Kick back and relax with our VIP guests while you enjoy some amazing Sugarcube Corner treats. $100 per person
Already in one night, one would have to shell out an extra $350 just to attend these exclusive events, on top of what patrons have already paid for. Yikes! And the way they have it set up, you don't get the dessert along with the dinner unless you pay up that extra $100 for the privilege.
>Lunch with Fluttershy and Friends
Time: 10:30-12:30Come join the Voice Actors behind Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, Big Mac, Shining Armor, and two amazingly talented book authors and show writers for lunch! Featuring Andrea Libman, Peter New, Andrew Francis, G. M. Berrow, and M. A. Larson. $250 per person
Grand Total So Far (GTSF): $600
Time: 14:00-16:00Join two seasoned voice actors as they host an unforgettable voice acting lesson on site at the convention. Space is very limited and the cost is incredibly low for a 2 hour group session. Don't miss out! Featuring Brian Drummond and Trevor Devall $75 per person
>High Society Banquet
Time: 17:30-19:30Dust off your jacket and adjust your tiara, because the elite are ready to eat! Actually, don't let that glitz and glamour fool you. These ponies just want to share a special evening with you. Join Diamond Tiara, Silver Spoon, Babs Seed, and Filthy Rich for a meal fit for a princess. Space is limited, so get your tickets while they last! Featuring Chantal Strand, Shannon Chan-Kent, Brynna and Brian Drummond. $250 per person
>Kelamis Comedy Showcase
Time: 21:45-22:45Standup Comedy featuring pony convention newcomer and the voice behind such outlandish MLP characters as Fashion Plate and Big Daddy McColt, come hear the hilarious offerings of the comedian and voice actor, Peter Kelamis! (Clean comedy, but 16 and older recommended) $25 per person
In two nights alone, if one were to go to all these paid events, he could easily find himself $950 down the hole. But we aren't done yet.
>AT HOME Concert
Time: 14:30-16:00AT HOME: an acoustic concert with Michelle Creber, Gabriel Brown, Monique & Michael Creber, and Andrea Libman. Join us for an unplugged performance of originals and covers in an intimate setting with great singing, beautiful harmonies, outstanding piano playing, plenty of audience interaction, and guaranteed laughs! $40 per person
So there you have it. At a whopping $990 for all of these paid events, not including the original con badge price, the price for the hotel room, merchandise costs, and food/drink/alcohol. At this rate, people would likely spend less on a full week long trip to Disneyland.
A recurring theme that has not escaped our attention is the omnipresence of the Crebers and BlackGryph0n. While this isn't the first time mother and manager Monique Creber had decided to practically sell her child and boytoy together for profit - charging Skype users $100 for a 30 minute talking session with Michelle and BlackGryph0n - we would not be surprised if we found out she was one of the people who had some form of influence in determining how things are ran.
Depending on how EFNW goes, there might be a lot more pushback against this sort of action. On the one hand, managing a convention's budget is very expensive, with a lot of costs needing to be paid off prior to the con even starting; to the venue, to the agents, etc. Having said that, a con goer's experience is going to be severely hampered when they find later on down the road that half the stuff they used to enjoy for the price of a regular badge before is now hidden behind an extra paywall, should this practice continue. So it's a bit of a muddy gray area.
What do you think? Are there better solutions other than "Con DLC" that conventions can employ to combat the rising cost of running one, yet slowly falling con attendance overall? From what we understand, most convention heads can't or won't even talk about this sort of thing because from a financial and legal standpoint, they can't. But they can see what the reaction coming from their customers are and react accordingly. In any case, we wish that everyone going there has a good time during EFNW.