GenCon attendance up for the first time since 2019
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the board gaming hobby. From manufacturing shut-downs, loading dock lag, shipping delays, cost spikes, destination port congestion, and offloading worker shortages, it sometime seemed that games would never arrive. One of the biggest impacts however was to the board game convention scene, GenCon in particular.
Prior to 2019, attendance at GenCon hovered around 60,000. In 2019, before COVID-19 became as prevalent as it did, attendance at GenCon was at roughly 70,000 unique turnstiles. However, in 2020 the convention, like most conventions that year, was cancelled due to safety concerns. And in 2021, the convention was pushed back from its normal scheduled dates in August to September 16th –19th but it was a hybrid convention made up of in-person events and virtual events for those who did not want to attend in person. The unique turnstile attendance dropped to 35,000 as people were hesitant to attend due to health and safety concerns. Paradoxically, those that did attend in person were hungry to shop and broke sales records.
Thankfully it looks like conventions are on the mend. This year’s GenCon attendance climbed up to 50,000, and over 530 companies had exhibits at the convention. It’s funny to note that GenCon forum user “traveler” had made a comment in the forum predicting that attendance for the con would be between 2 and 7.5 million, and Google chose to use that as its official answer when asked "how many people attended GenCon 2022?"