In today's gaming world, most people either are cosplayers, know a cosplayer or follow one on social media. It seems EB Expo has cottoned on to this fact, and they're getting in on the trend. Kinda.
They're not inviting cosplay guests, or offering their high-stakes cosplay comp again. This year, they're adding a cosplay repair station and cloak room -- and charging cosplayers $300 to actually use them.
EB Expo passes are usually pretty expensive -- $149 for all three days -- but the $299 'Ultimate Cosplayer Pass' is a bit ridiculous. This is even before taking into account all the money cosplayers spend on their costumes. They generally don't have that much cash to spare.
Cosplayers can give events a lot: Free content, social media coverage, enriching attendee experiences... Don't ask for their wallets!
— Eve Beauregard (@Eve_Beauregard) July 4, 2016
So what does this extra $150 get our ultimate cosplayers? Let's break it down:
•Secret Escape Room It took me a while to realise that they weren't putting the cosplayers through an actual escape room. Because that would be weird. I mean it's still weird, but here are the things that cosplayers are meant to pay extra for in the escape room:
—Emergency Repair Station for everything you need to get your outfit back up to scratch to hit the floor AKA that thing that most conventions provide for free. Some regular attendees will even provide a roaming cosplay repair service, like Captain Patch-It, out of the goodness of their own souls.
—Cloak Room for storing your costume so you can enjoy EB Expo 2016 in your own skin Again, something many cons provide for free, or for a charge of a couple dollars.
—Powder Room to touch up your makeup So, a bathroom.
—Chill Out Lounge Interestingly, EB Expo boasts a Cosplay Lounge on their regular cosplay page, so I'm unsure whether this refers to the same lounge, or whether people who pay extra get another cosplay lounge.
—Café Seating Area This is a bit unclear -- is there a cafe in the escape room? Is it just a cafe style seating area? Do you bring your food here? Do cosplayers get a roped-off seating section at the cafe? Either way I'm not sure why you would pay extra for it.
—Water Stations These are usually available in a bunch of places around EBX anyway.
•Priority Access to Cosplay Competitions Get first dibs on registration for the Just ‘Cos Cosplay Competition, featuring over $5,000 in prizes to be won!
Here's where it gets a little weird. Do the cosplay competitions at EBX book up fast? What if only people who paid the extra $150 got a spot in the cosplay competition? While that doesn't seem fair, it also doesn't really seem worth it. For reference, these are the prizes for the EBX cosplay comp:
Best costume: $200 EB Games Gift Card Runner up: $100 EB Games Gift Card Best Group: $400 EB Games Gift Card Runner Up Best Group: $150 EB Games Gift Card Judge's Choice: $100 EB Games Gift Card
While none of them even surpass the $299 you're going to be paying for entry to said competition, they're also gift cards. The page for the Ultimate Cosplayer Pass also promises you can: "Get up close and personal with our internationally acclaimed Just ‘Cos judges!" It's all a bit weird. But the 'perks' continue:
•Priority Access to Cosplay 360° Camera Jump the queue and capture every inch of your masterpiece using over 50 linked DSLR cameras
This is an attraction that's open to everyone on the show floor, you just get to jump the queue, which is never really that long as far as I've seen
•Glorious Souvenirs Remember the event for years to come with your choice between an EB Expo t-shirt or mug, plus a souvenir Ultimate Cosplayer Ticket!
I know all I've ever wanted from a gaming expo is a mug. The page also promises a vague "plus more", but overall as a cosplayer, I'm really not sure what the point of it all is.
EB Games' post announcing this ticket was met with criticism, and a number of critical comments have disappeared from the post, such as the one in the screenshot below.
After responding to a few people asking why critical comments had evidently been deleted, saying "Only comments which are offensive or contain expletives are removed", the response from the page elaborated a little more on why the ticket was so expensive:
"In previous years, we have not been able to offer the level of features included with the Ultimate Cosplay Ticket. As such, we have had to create additional space and hire additional services within the showgrounds. This does have a cost attached, and the pricing of the ticket reflects this."
A response to another comment claims: "The Secret Escape Room is a fully dedicated VIP room which includes much more than standard repair services."
As someone who fully advocates cosplayers being recognised and sometimes paid for their hard work, it's disheartening to see an event attempting to charge them for their passion. The perks offered by this expensive ticket are the sorts of things that any convention that wants to be cosplay-friendly should really be offering for free.
While we can be a high maintenance lot, with all our cosplay repairs and needing to sit down and all, cosplayers are an essential part of the convention landscape these days. They provide colour, fun and life to an event.
Attractions like the cosplay competition and costume showcase have the ability to draw crowds, and even just walking around near the event in costume can act as free advertising. With all the obvious benefits of having cosplayers at your event, is it really necessary to charge them obscene amounts of money on top of that?
Aussie cosplayer Eve Beauregard puts it best:
Can we all just agree that if you're going to try to appeal to a special group charging them a bunch of money is not the way to do it
— Eve Beauregard (@Eve_Beauregard) July 4, 2016