ConnectiCon 2019: Return of the Panda

It has been a long time since I attended ConnectiCon. Back in 2015 I had the time of my life with ConnectiCon being a great Omni Convention. Whether you are a fan of Video Games, Anime, Comics, and more. ConnectiCon throughout the years has been a growing Convention within the state of Connecticut. Though the last few years that I decided not to attend, and have not been too well on ConnectiCon. But here in 2019 I see if the Convention is worth giving it another chance.

                The Convention itself has had its issues in the past, when there were no late-night offerings, removal of features at the Convention including on-site Dance, having off-site Gaming Area, stagnating attendee numbers, and more. Now with 2019 it seems the Convention is slowly fixing itself to be back on its feet as a viable convention to attend. The Convention seems to definitely be striving to fight back and retain its former glory.

                First off let’s go over what they did right. The Game Room itself is fantastic. Offering both Free-to-Play Gaming Stations, Tournament Area, but also variety of Japanese Arcade Machines. I was seriously impressed with their gaming options they offered. The Dealers Room and Artist Alley has been located in one area while the Guest Signings have been combined into the Gaming Area to help with crowds and flow. I help made the Dealers Room/Artist Alley less crowded and more manageable to go through while the Gaming Space’s Open areas definitely had a lot of breathing room. The Convention also had later offerings into the night, not as late like how it was before hand but it was something. The Panels are now going on until 11PM, while not the norm like other Conventions out there. It’s definitely an added effort. When the Convention goes into the night it means more content to checkout. The Cosplay Deathmatch is a key part of the Convention as it attracts many attendees to see who will win. The Table-Top Area is actually surprisingly not bad, I feel the size of the area it has is just right and trying to make it any bigger I would not recommend since this is an Omni Convention and not a Table-Top Convention. So, if they keep the size like that then I see no issues with the Table-Top/TGC area. There also was a healthy number of Photoshoots all throughout the Convention during all 3 days. I would also like to personally thank the Press Division for ConnectiCon, the staff there have been fantastic to work with and answered all my questions. They seriously deserve a medal, I had great views of them back in 2015 and in 2019 its still the same great view.

                Second let’s go over what I thought was weird, off, and bad. I felt the Connecticut Festival of Indie Games was tacked on as an afterthought. While there were booths available with variety of different Indie Devs from Video Games, Table-Top, and more. It felt really under-strengthen. There was a huge open area beside it of empty space. I do would love to see this portion fleshed out more with more Devs. Another thing was Panels, there were a variety of Panels to attend but some of the Panels didn’t feel like a good fit to the Convention. Also, the Panel Streams felt lack-luster too. Personally, I would just stream the Main Events on their YouTube Page. One thing that really stuck out this whole weekend was how empty the Convention felt. For 2019 there was about 11K that attended the Weekend, and compared to past years the attendance went down. Food Options for the Convention inside is also lack-luster. I highly recommend going to either the nearby Food Truck Festival or outside food options for cheaper and better-quality food. Another thing I need to point out is the cost of the badges. While cost of the badges for every convention has been getting higher but its usually matched by how much content the Convention has going for it. ConnectiCon price of the badge vs content is offers is not balanced enough to warrant price. If there is more content next year to warrant the price, then it will be a good fit.

ConnectiCon is slowly starting to retain its former glory. It’s doing things right in certain areas while in other areas it can still improve and grow. ConnectiCon still has other events similar to other Conventions like a Cosplay Masquerade, Cosplay Chess/Deathmatch, Panels, and more. One key issue that ConnectiCon faces is its competition. Within not only the State of Connecticut but also the whole New England area Conventions have been popping up, refining their craft, and growing in size. ConnectiCon needs to utilize and maximize its core identify as an Omni Convention. It doesn’t pertain to one area like Video Games or Anime, but with many areas in the Geek Fandom. One thing that I feel will hamper ConnectiCon’s efforts is its badge prices. Usually a badge’s price will reflect on Content available at a Convention. ConnectiCon like other conventions have been slowly raising their prices. But a recent announcement for 2020 is increase in price. A Weekend Pass will now be $91.99 w/t Service Charge. This makes it more expensive than Anime Boston, this makes it more expensive than PAX Unplugged, this makes almost as expensive as Otakon. The difference though is the size and attendees. All those other Conventions have a huge attendee install base and a lot of content to do at the conventions. Plus with 11K attendance for 2019, it clearly shows unbalance and lower attendance record from previous years.

                This year ConnectiCon definitely had an interesting impact on me. I can see this Convention is trying to fight back and retain its glory. With areas that have definitely been expanding for the better but still more areas they can fine-tune. It gives me more optimism to think maybe ConnectiCon can do it. But with how things are going in the Convention scene with other Conventions being competition and attendees starting to pick and choose more carefully now of what conventions to attend. ConnectiCon’s fight to stay in the scene is now being seen by all. Some rooting for its success, others rooting for its doom. I however plan on checking out ConnectiCon in 2020 again to give my final opinions and hope to return back as Press again.