I have been among you for exactly one cycle (PAX East 2014 to PAX East 2015), during which this community has seen immense growth. As we all know, with growth comes change; most of it good, but some of it not. I would like this post to shed light on well-defined issues as they form and have constructive discussions about them. I will do my best to keep this OP up-to-date as new concerns within the community arise and/or as potential solutions are proposed and pursued.Cultivating an eBay Culture
During PAX East 2015, Blizzard Entertainment had an Overwatch booth that pitted two teams against each other. Everyone who tried the game received an Overwatch pin, with the MVP (determined by the game) receiving a Golden Overwatch Pin (as well as the regular version). To call the Golden Overwatch Pin rare is an understatement because the line for the booth was constantly capped and only 1 in 10 people who got to play the game got the pin. Many people who got the golden pin were not Pinny Arcade community members, which is great, because there's no better way to enter a new community than through an activity you already enjoy (kicking ass at video games). The problem occurred when people didn't know what the pins were for (golden or otherwise), and instead of booth staff telling them "There is a large pin trading community at PAX and you just got a great pin!" they said, explicitly, "don't trade that pin away, it can go for a lot on eBay".
The Pin Trader - "The Guy From That Website"
I have asked several people with the golden overwatch pin what they would trade; they explicitly told me they were not trading it, and that they were looking for money. I've witnessed the same thing happen to other people several times. You can find the pin on eBay right now (3/9/15, one day after PAX East 2015) for $150+.
(last edit on 3/10/2015 4:10pm EST: solution posted, see below)
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this online service and asking others about it. I'm of the **opinion** that, as long as we have eBay, thepintrader.com is not a bad thing for the community. The prices are lower than eBay, they're constant, and they allow people who can't get to every PAX (or form a dedicated collection team) a way to acquire the pins they want. I would like to keep the online portion of that entity out of this topic and raise awareness of something else. Routinely, "the guy from the website" can be found in lines with a bag where you give him a pin - any pin - and are allowed to reach into the bag and choose any other pin in the bag. My understanding* is that pins given to him do not go in the bag, meaning he determines which pins are given out beforehand, and his hope is to collect "better" pins than the pins he allotted for distribution. Worse, the pins he is distributing are the pins that educated community members use as fodder, and he looks for people who clearly don't know what they're giving up. I stopped someone from giving the guy a Corrupted Garruk for a chance at the bag (I traded him for it instead), and Pin Trader Guy was clearly displeased with me. I've seen other people give up pins they don't know the value of - pins they waited in line to acquire - at a chance to play this game.
SOLUTION: The Pin Trader - "The Guy From That Website"
This is not the same game presented to us by the Penny Arcade staff. They surround their games by GREAT 1-for-1 trade tables, clearly explain their games up front, have legitimate prize pools, and take the time to explain things to newer community members. "The guy from that website" is very quick to take your Chandra pin, hand you a Hot Dog Fairy, and leave the line. It's not okay.
* This understanding stems from the fact that the pins in the bag are individually wrapped, preventing people from 'feeling out the good pins', and I don't think he goes off and individually wraps the pins he acquires and puts them back in the bag.
The Increasing Cost of Booth Pins
was kind enough to respond to this post and explain the game more clearly. I did my best to give honest and constructive feedback that represents the many conversations I've had about the game over the last two PAXen (PAX South 2015, PAX East 2015). The conversation can be found here.
(last edit 3/10/2015 11:05am EST: solution posted, see below)
In the days of yore, one acquired pins by waiting in line at booths to play a game. The lines were long, but it was okay because you were doing two things you love at once: playing new video games and acquiring epic shinies. Today, an increasing number of booths are charging money ($10-15) for their pins. Pin collecting is not cheap to begin with: tickets to PAX cost money, as do the logistics surrounding the event (hotels, travel, food, ...). Pin collecting takes time; lines often stretch well past the one hour mark. Paying for most of the pins after getting to the event and the front of the line not only leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the collector, but inhibits trades and, worse, raises the barrier of entry to the hobby. I was next to a group of four people at the Supergiant Games booth who loved Bastion and Transistor (rightfully so) and wanted to get a few pins because they liked what they saw on others' lanyards. When they saw me pay $30 for the 2 pins they were taken aback: "$30 for 2 pins?! That's more than we paid for both of those games!" Not only did they not get into the hobby, but I felt pretty stupid paying more for the pins than the games they were from. Also, artificially adding more value to some pins than others (Supergiant sold theirs for $15 but Frima and Behemoth sold theirs for $10) inhibits lateral trades.
SOLUTION: The Increasing Cost of Booth Pins
There are elegant ways to charge for pins: the Magic the Gathering booth has paid events that teach you how to play, give you a bunch of cards/MtG-related things, and then vouchers that can be traded in for even more MtG stuff or pins. I can even understand Behemoth's approach of "people love bubble gum machines / slots, so let's do that with pins!". What I'm specifically talking about are the increasing amounts of Supergiants and Frimas on the floor, simply requiring cash for their wares.
edit to clarify - I agree that the cost per pin is not dramatically increasing. Rather, there are more pins in general and thus, there are more booths with pins that cost money. To achieve your goal of "getting all of the floor pins" requires more money now, not just more time. Also, $15+ for a single pin that isn't a limited run is pretty steep.
As mentioned in the original OP, Pinny Arcade is in its infancy, which means that it's currently possible (and thus tempting) to collect every single pin, even at the cost of enjoying everything else PAX has to offer. It's up to the individual collector to decide which pins (all? certain vendors/games? CATS ONLY?!?!) they value enough to acquire. The introduction of more and more pins, even at some cash price, is a good thing because it helps the community reach a point of maturity where a complete collection is just too hard to attain for most people. As more and more people recognize that fact, their mentality will *hopefully* shift from hoarding to trading, from simply "having" to "doing". With this mentality in mind, paying for pins is a good thing; it gives the collector a way to directly support the artists and developers they care about and gain a keepsake to remind them of it in the form of a kick ass pin.
Ideally, collectors will learn to bury their brain squirrels before their wallets and look at their pin collection as a series of happy moments; each one telling a story of support given, friendships made, and events attended.
Penny Arcade is a shining light in the video game and tabletop scene and PAX is a great manifestation of that. One of the things that draws people to Pinny Arcade is the translation of that 'purity' to collecting and trading video- and tabletop-gaming pins. Constantly, we see veteran traders helping newer ones: offering good advice, connecting trades, and even giving away pins. However, Pinny Arcade is in its infancy and that feel-good vibe can sometimes cause us to turn a blind eye to the people (both official vendors and third parties) looking to take advantage of us. I think we need to openly discuss these things and their impacts on the future of Pinny Arcade.
Pinny Pals Lanyard
I don't completely feel this. I feel like pin pricing has been somewhat consistent. Aside from Behemoth series 1 at Prime '13 for $5 and the Lookouts set at 6/$35 (and eventually on sale), pins run from $7.50 each as part of a $30 set, to $15. Welovefine's pins have crept up in price but not overly so, $40 for the TF2 set is still $10 each. There simply are more pins. Also, I remember when I had hesistated on preordering Rayman Legends for that pin... $60... and they ran out at the end. (as an aside, I think one of you traded me a Rayman pin at the end of Prime '13, you might have been one of the main reasons I've remained a pinny collector )
I like the mix of being able to buy some pins and being able to demo for pins. And one can always trade for pins that are buyable at the show. Money versus time/opportunity, I've made trades based on "sure, I will save you money in exchange for saving myself time/opportunity". South was a little overboard on the bought-vs-demo ratio, but this East felt a lot more balanced.
On the specific example of Frima vs Bastion, if Supergiant is at Prime, you can probably get the Bastion pin there again. But if the Frima pin isn't at Prime, then that trade value suddenly changes.
2015 PAX Prime Omeganaut (I will forever hate Katamari)
Great points. I've edited the OP to better reflect the problem of there simply being more pins, which means more of them cost money, which means "getting all the pins from a given PAX" is getting more expensive (not just more time consuming) every PAX due to nothing but growth.
My Digital Pin Lanyard || PAX East '13, '14, '15, '19 | PAX South '15
I know I am one the hardcore who posts ranty/soapboxy things often, but I found myself considering slowing down or stopping next year in regards to "gotta catch em all." I know this is a personal thing, but this is the first PAX that I have done the pin quest for me and pin pals where I felt like it affected my PAX experience in a negative way. While I enjoyed meeting people in line and getting pins, I did not get to experience PAX in a general sense. I had very little extra time, which limited my ability to check out other booths that didn't have pins. This happened with people helping me get pins, if I was by myself it would've been impossible. I would not ask that there be less pins just to make life easier for pin pals, but if the trend is more and more pins that are more difficult to acquire for no good reason I will have to hang up my hardcore hat.
Not sure if this is where this thread was going, if not I can move my post somewhere else. I just wanted to put my two cents in after seeing how this weekend worked out.
The best way to combat upward pressure is with downward pressure. At least inside the community, we've been able to do that by making trades. @darkinfero is a good example of someone who is creating downward pressure by trading away limited edition pins with friendly and enthusiastic abandon. I try to do my part by giving away pins to people who ask me about what pin trading is. Those things represent putting pins out into the wild, and shrinks the large sets of multiple duplicates we all have (which essentially pull pins out of the world). If we create movement in the community, then the idea that "you can't possibly trade this pin since you can list in on eBay and sell it and move to the Bahamas" gets undermined. The more our various pin hordes shrink and diffuse, the greater the ability to trade them later will become.
I said it during the panel, but we're approaching an "impossibility horizon." It may soon become impossible for everyone to get three or (gasp) four of everything for Pin Pals. I personally think it's a feature and not a bug. Once we really, truly work into our bones the idea that a complete set for everyone... and perhaps a complete set for ourselves... is unsustainable, some of the upward pressure may go away. Right now, we have famous pins. Aus Kemper, Leeroy, flavor-of-the-day Gold Overwatch. The more pins, the less famous, and the easier to trade. The less complete sets, as a percentage of the total number of people trading, the easier to trade. It is up to us to create that downward pressure.
Always looking to trade.
First and foremost, I'm biased. Very. Extremely. I love pretty much any art that Jen Zee does (sad I missed out on her Mother of Dragons print), and Logan Cunningham has one of the best voices in the industry in my opinion. That being said, I didn't buy the Red and Kid pins because of Pinny Arcade. I bought them because I LOVE Transistor and Bastion, and I happen to also enjoy collecting Pinny Arcade pins. If Pinny Arcade didn't exist, I still would have bought those pins. The games were cheaper if you bought them on sale. If you bought them at full price on launch, you paid $15 for Bastion, and $20 for Transistor. If you are the type of person that paid full price for the games, you are also probably the type of person that would spend $15 per pin, but you wouldn't buy any of the t-shirts at the booth (because you already own both of them from previous PAXen).
Now, this is where the beauty of Pinny Arcade and the community comes in. There will be someone willing to trade that fancy new Bastion pin. That person MIGHT even want one of the pins on your lanyard that you don't care that much about, but they do. Hell, you also might even find it on a table at the trading event and be able to swap it out for that 13th Lookouts 02 you have been trying to get rid of. For the most part, I feel like the OG-pinny pals don't really need to spend any money outside of the LE pin at PAX due to pin banks having extremely valuable pins for newcomers. At South, I could've spent $15 on my Texas Polygon pin, and then traded for the core set with fodder from the trading event tables. All of the new people to pin trading bought an extra set or two just to trade away for pins they didn't have yet, which is to say everything.
That is also the reason I hate the "ebay" comments from Overwatch (or any booth), because that removes trading from the equation entirely. That person at the Overwatch booth who just got the gold pin is much less likely to trade it for something at the Con when they were just told "ebay it for $150-$200". It effectively removes pins from the "trading" community, and it goes strictly to the "collecting with no intention of trading" community. That makes me a sad panda.
2015 PAX Prime Omeganaut (I will forever hate Katamari)
For me, here are my goals to preserve my sanity:
-Finish the third year to have a full 2013, 2014, 2015 collection.
-In the future, grab the core set from each PAX I attend and proudly display the badge from each.
-In the future, also grab any pin that has a special meaning to me.
If I followed those rules now, I'd have only gotten a core set, a Star Trek pin and a magic pin.
Always looking to trade.
Then, I didn't know if I would ever be able to trade for Aus '13 pins. The opportunity arose, and I now am
proud to have a full non-DLC pinny collection.
If I miss a pin, I'll find a trade, or pony up the money if I want it badly enough. But with the collection pressure off, I'm just really enjoying bringing lanyards of extra pins and seeing what I end up with after a few days of PAX.
My take on the eBay thing is that it was just supremely bad form. I feel like any vendor that wants to get in on the pin game should understand a bit more about the world before diving in. Important things like:
-There are people who are going to hack whatever distribution method you have if the pin is rare enough.
-Random chance drawings (Order) are agony for enthusiasts. Skill-based drawings (Overwatch) are great for most people but agony for enthusiasts.
-Telling people to sell their pins is rude, weird and counter to the point of the hobby.
Always looking to trade.
Sounds like you and I have very similar collection practices! Now that I have most of the pins that I'd like to collect I'm trying to get more into the trading mindset over the collecting mindset. Chatting up other pin traders and trading with people gives me way more satisfaction than hoarding pins, even if it's hard to break the dragon sickness. The eBay comments from some of the Overwatch devs and the hoarding from the Twitch booth really made me realize this so hopefully from now on I can make Pinny Arcade more about doing and less about having. I think the best way to describe what happened at those two booths is just bad sportsmanship, they clearly were going against the spirit of pin trading and that's something that should be addressed.
Lots of good comments here. Trying hardcore Prime for a group last year really broke me of the "dragon horde" mentality. Too many, too hard to get, and rising prices. I've stepped down to an enthusiast level, and am considering breaking my hardcore collection down into trade fodder to keep prices down going forward.
Check out my YouTube Pinny Arcade Videos!
On the other hand, the smaller studios and the Bandland folks seem to be using Pinny Arcade in somewhat different ways. First is to entice people who wouldn't otherwise do so to check out their new game/comic. Second is straight up revenue generation. Though I would love to get pins for free through demo-ing games, I'm not necessarily opposed to the latter. $15 per pin might seem excessive, but in the context of a hobby featuring collectibles, I think it's not so egregious.
I don't have a complete collection, and looking into the future, I don't think I'll strive to get one. My personal line-in-the-sand is Penny Arcade + Bandland folks + Magic. Since I display my pins using a custom poster, there simply isn't enough space on my wall for everything. I may make exceptions for certain gaming pins, such as the games I personally play (Bastion and Transistor), or cool interlocking pin designs (Moonrise). I think this would limit the amount of grief associated with trying to get the pins from one of the big companies.
Just collectively resist the urge to pay and watch as the market crumbles. It's all about doing things as a large group, prices are entirely dictated but what people are willing to pay, collectibles are highly susceptible to value crashes.
You can already see the effect of no actual buyers on many pins, the prices of East 2013 just as an example dropped significantly, there was simply no buyers up in the $300 mark, now they're in the <$150 mark.
Anyway I've strictly stayed away from it because it involves money but if people want a safer (edit: that's the wrong word to use, I meant it more like, safer in price gouging because your sellers/buyers are educated, it will naturally not have the protections eBay/PayPal provide) or more collector focused area, we can add a market place to the site. But I'd need a lot of positives for it and very few people with negatives for it. It's not an area I'm super gunho to get in to but I also would like to improve the community as a whole. Maybe @fishfishmonkeyhat can bless us with a fancy poll
http://pinmash.info - Head-To-Head battle of pins! Choose the most desirable.
http://pinnywise.com - iOS pin collection tracking app.
My Delicious Pins For Trade
And part of me would love to only want to collect certain pins...but I have an addictive and collector's personality...so yeah that works as expected ^ ^;
Also, I don't know if there is a thread like this, but has anyone considered a single big post, closed, stickied thread that talks about the basics and important sites that facilitate the community? So a new person has a chance to level the learning curve a bit. Thus far the only real info I've gotten is from the mega thread of Pinny Pal, but it's so big it is a bit daunting to try and read it all. And some, like me, may feel awkward asking too many questions for fear of that question already being asked and bothering people.
Thought of ideas that people discuss that goes over my head.
Fodder Pins? Which are they and why?
Rarity? How to find out? How is it decided?
Best way to approach trades?
Best way to obtain tradeable pins? Do they exist?
So in conclusion, the list goes on.
Welp I think someone just gave me something to do tonight! I should have a beginners guide up sometime soon!
EDIT: Guide is up!
My pins are right here!
Feel free to send me a trade request!
We do have a thread for print run numbers that I try to keep up to date.
My Pin Lanyard
So is the number the only indicator for rarity? I wasn't sure if there was some complex algorithm or if it is just amount in existence.
There's not really a set rarity for each pin since the value of each pin is going to change from person to person. I'm sure Diffusion is going to hit this in his beginner's guide but there's a number of factors that determine a pin's value, including Actual Availability (run numbers), Perceived Availability (how hard it was to get/earn), Monetary Value (did you have to pay for it and how much), Sentimental Value (do you like it/does it look cool/do you have a cool story for it/etc.), and some more. I'm basically trying paraphrasing what's been said in the Pin Trading 101 panels at South and East this year. Yay Economics!
Looking forward to checking out the beginner's guide too! I'm not exactly new to all this but there's always more to learn.
The results on pinmash might be a good"ish" starting point.
Pinny Pals Lanyard
I think they made 4000 D&D pins.
But the pin looks great and D&D fans want the pin too, as a result it's really hard to trade for.
Where as another pin say ...Professor Pigglesworth is only from a run of 1000, but its a lot easier to trade for.
My Pin Lanyard
Also, and I heard this second hand, Khoo said he wants to stop "completionists" and give more feeling to the pins, but what is the purpose of that? If you have all these people totally into what you're doing, why would you want to push them away?
If it were me, I would want all of the pins to be accessible to new and old collectors, but not necessarily hand them out like candy. MTG and Moonrise are prefect examples. MTG: Play our game, and get product worth about as much, if not more, as you paid in. Moonrise: Try our game, and if you come back with the pin as proof you played our game, you can play it a tournament for bigger prizes. Purchasables will always have their place, and I believe that first-party purchasables are a great way of advertising and creating revenue, but it is really nice to have a mix, as someone else said, of purchase and floor pins. For me, pin trading and collecting is a game. I go to PAX and I have a quest I have to complete! I'm not going to give up no matter what, and I have yet to have a year where I didn't get all of the pins from the convention I attended, but buying pins on ebay, or even having almost a whole convention of purchasables (South) takes my fun game and makes it Pay-to-Win (Which is never fun in games).
Lastly, Naughty Dog. What's up with that? You're a receding company and you want people to check you out, so you sell pins on your site without any sort of PR and create further false value. Additionally, it doesn't feel like these pins are part of the pinny arcade family, since they're not at PAX, they're not Penny Arcade related, and they didn't really seem to worth with penny arcade on advertising.
I'm obviously very opinionated, but I'm more interested in what you think? If you had 1000 pins, how would you distribute them? I kind of liked the way Wildstar did it. at Prime '13. Play our game enough so you can answer some questions about it, and you get your pins.
What do companies get out of making hard to get pins?
Why would Penny Arcade want to stop completionists?
How do you feel about third-party online-only purchasables?
How would you distribute YOUR penny arcade pin?
Now Moonrise on the other hand, is a game that at its core is about collecting things; so it would only make sense for them to be as inclusive as they can of folks who like to collect stuff. The ideal Moonrise evangelist is probably a hardcore pin collector (which is why it's not surprising that so many on here love the game), who likely appreciates situations where people can work together and everyone can complete their collections.
I think Robert may have been misinterpreted on this. If it's the interaction I'm aware of -- he said that Pinny arcade was not designed, and is not maintained, so that people should be able to get every pin. That doesn't mean the PA staff are out there dreaming up new ways to thwart us and stop the complete collection, it just means that they don't stop to ask "How is this going to affect the people that want them all?" when they make decisions.
http://pinmash.info - Two pins enter, one pins leaves... then the other pin leaves with a lower Elo rating
I couldn't have said it better.
I came to East with full sets of East 13/14, Aus13/14, Prime13/14, and pretty much every "rare" pin outside of Leeroy I could think of and just "put them in the wild". I gave my Aus 13 set away without trading just so others could get their hands on them. I'm not patting myself on the back or trying to say that I'm doing something special, but there is a great feeling of trading something "rare" for a hotdog fairy and seeing someones face light up because they've obtained, in their mind, the unobtainable. That's the best part of being in this community. I had my picture taken with so many people and got so many hugs for trading, that even through all the Twitch (@Gerzzog and @SerpicoBC were in line with me when I was #51) & Gold Overwatch bullshit, this was probably the best PAX I've ever attended.
They wouldn't. They just don't factor us in to their plans. If they have enough printing capacity to do a Pin (and all the approvals line up) they will do it.
A lot better if they got mentioned on Penny Arcade when they launched. Thank the Pin Gods we have people who keep their eyes out for this kind of thing and report back to us.
If I'm an indie game dev: free with demo, free with purchase of Steam Early Access if I need the money to finish the game, Kickstarter reward for tabletop.
If I'm a AAA game dev: free with demo. My booth has great throughput.
If I'm a podcast/youtube person: free at the panel, free or purchase at the booth/bandland depending on budget.
If I'm an eccentric billionaire: firing Behemoth's chonku chonku capsules from an arm-mounted compressed-air cannon into the Queue Room every morning.
Nusquam Findi Factionis
My Digital Pin Lanyard
I'd ask that we direct our feedback to coming up with solutions to the Booth Etiquette and Pin Trader Guy problems. Specifically:
- How can we inform booth workers of our existence and the harm they do to our community when they recommend hoarding / eBaying pins as opposed to encouraging people to check out Pinny Arcade?
- What's the best way to inform newer members of The Pin Trader game and how it works and/or talk to the guy from the site without it turning into a witch hunt?
One solution I have for The Pin Trader game is to make sure people know about the official pin trading event that occurs on Saturday nights at PAX. Letting people know that there are better (more fair) ways to exchange pins can help people hold onto pins they aren't aware are great until at least 2/3 through the convention. As we've seen in the past (even in this thread), the PA staff is great about informing people of the pins they're about to put on the table and 100% transparent (since all pins are displayed) about which pins you can pick up.
My Digital Pin Lanyard || PAX East '13, '14, '15, '19 | PAX South '15
It's also getting too hard to display them all. I have three smaller frames that house about 35-40 pins and I haven't even framed any of the South pins or the East pins that will be coming in from my Pin group. All of this considered with Prime coming up as well.
As for booth employees encouraging resale rather than trading, can't really do much about it. Often times those guys are hired by some marketing team and don't even work for the company. Also once someone finds out what they can get it's hard to sway them another direction. Like some people already pointed out, it really has to do with the market. If you want pin prices to go down then you have to not bid on them or buy them. Once that happens the seller will have to lower price. Often times I bet we are bidding against each other.
Another year of Prime gone by... commence the struggle!
As more pins get on the market and people specialize, we will see more and more of this.
As far as the Pin Trader Guy goes the suggestions so far have been the best approach. Encourage newer traders toward the pin trading event and the forums, facilitate fair trades, and be what you want the rest of our community to be.
US Dollars are a convenient shortcut for conveying the value of pins. You could tell someone, “Don’t trade that Gold Overwatch for anything less than an Aus 13 Kemper” but it wouldn’t mean anything to most people. If someone doesn’t collect pins, and happens to wind up with something valuable, what should they do with it?
Another year of Prime gone by... commence the struggle!
This is a good point, but I don't agree with them outright saying "It'll sell for $200 on eBay." Sure there might be one on there going for that much but let the pin holder draw their own conclusion about what price to list it as, otherwise they'll feel gypped when it ends up going for anything less (which it most likely will). I'm fine with them saying "here's a fairly rare pin, trade it for others or sell it" but the more specific they get the worse it gets.