If you’ve noticed that this year it’s been even tougher than usual to get a badge to New York Comic Con, you were’t just imagining it. In recent years, NYCC has become synonymous with “teeming masses.” leading to discomfort at best and outright danger at worst. This year ReedPOP, which throws the show, is doing something about it by cracking down on counterfeit and scalped badges and in general adding a new level of rigor to obtaining a badge.
In the biggest change, all badges will use RFID (radio frequency ID) technology to track users and traffic, as explained in the FAQ, While RFID sounds a little like a new NSA tool, it’s actually a increasingly common technology used in everything from EZPass to cattle drives to music festivals Bonnaroo and Coachella.
What does this mean for this year’s show? Well, many things. We’re still getting the details—initial badges are being mailed out this week and the first person we know wrote to say it came with TWO PAGES of instruction—but Reed is just making sure everyone gets the new procedures.
While everyone knows you can’t buy badges onsite at SDCC or NYCC any more, NYCC is going one better: you can’t even PICK UP a badge onsite any more. 99.9% of all badges—consumer, pro, press—will be mailed out ahead of time. (Which has made reg more nerve-wracking than ever but see below.) Once you get the badge you need go online to register it. This will allow traffic to be mapped, but it does come with some cool social media perks and 50 FREE digital comics from comiXology. In addition, you may even win a FREE CHEVY. Yes that’s right. NEW CAR. So go register that badge!
Once you are registered, upon entering and leaving the show you will need to tap in and tap out with authorized ReedPOP personnel. This will weed out counterfeit badges, which were a MAJOR problem last year. According to ReedPOP, all badges are being mailed out because they expect all badges to be gone by next Friday (the deadline for everything.) Although you can get in and out without registering online, it is encouraged as it will allow them to replace your badge if it is lost. There will also be additional giveaways and social media perks when you register your badge.
Although this sounds like a recipe for a gridlock, we’re told ReedPOP has enough entrances and scanners to process people quicker than in the past and “it will make the building much safer.”
I will reiterate that this had to be done. To be brutally honest, NYCC badges have not been treated like the precious objects they are until recently, and lax security has led to dangerous overcrowding. We’ve all noted that on the Sunday of the show half the people seem to be walking around without badges. I’ve also heard anecdotal stories about guys selling entire BOXES of counterfeit badges out on the streets near Javits. For the first few years of NYCC getting certain types of free badges was a very easy affair for someone who forgot to buy one, or just needed to get in. And it’s a loophole savvy congoers made full use of. Well, no more.
So what if you don’t have a badge for NYCC? If you are a fan a FEW single day passes are still being sold for THURSDAY AND FRIDAY only.
Press reg ends on September 6, the deadline for mailing out the badges, and many people are being rejected so don’t delay and get some awesome clips.
Pro badges had the same deadline but they are already sold out. This led to some anxiety this morning on Twitter:
Just discovered I've missed the pro registration deadline for NYCC. Which is somewhat galling as I've already paid for accommodation…
— Andy Diggle (@andydiggle) August 30, 2013
So bottom line? ReedPOP is taking welcome steps to end the dangerous overcrowding at New York Comic Con—the new technology will not be as hard as it looks, and as soon as it rolls out and people get the hang of it, it will be the new, unremarked on normal. In fact as comic cons everywhere get bigger and bigger and bigger, we’d expect this kind of technology to become VERY common.
In the mean time, someone please help Diggle! Otherwise he’ll be left hanging at the pub, and I know he would hate that.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.