Two more players may pull out of games fair
Two more leading exhibitors, upset by a ban on the sale of limited-edition products, may pull out of the annual Ani-Com and Games fair next year, joining one who stayed away this year.
They say the ban - introduced to thwart professional queuers working for speculators - has reduced interest in the fair and destroyed its atmosphere.
One of the biggest exhibitors, Gamania, was missing when the fair opened yesterday, withdrawing in protest at the ban on selling limited-edition figurines. Gameone Group and Hot Toys say they are considering whether to do the same next year.
'Obviously, the number of people visiting the fair this morning has dropped compared to last year,' the general manager of online games company Gameone Group, Sze Ling-ling, said. '[Limited-edition products] used to be a gimmick that grabbed comic lovers' attention.'
With large profits to be made selling the scarce figurines online, speculators previously hired groups, mainly comprising South Asians, to queue outside the fair and grab the items when it opened.
This year, exhibitors have to arrange an online pre-order system for their limited-edition items, which are then collected at their exhibition booths.
Sze said her company would consider withdrawing from next year's fair if, as she expects, sales revenue falls by 15 to 20 per cent. She said rising manufacturing costs had already taken a toll on the online-games producer.
She was also unhappy about a new requirement for a HK$15,000 deposit from which fines are deducted if exhibitors do not keep crowds around their booths under control.
'I really can't keep everything under my control,' she said. 'If fans and photographers come up to the stage to shoot pictures of our models, will it be considered chaos?'
Figurines manufacturer Hot Toys says it will pull out next year if the organiser further tightens regulations.
'Let's say, if the organiser prohibits us from arranging pre-orders online for limited-edition figures and claiming them at the venue, the event will surely become very boring,' company founder Howard Chan Ho-bun said.
The firm's booth was targeted by queuing gangs last year as its limited-edition products could be resold online for several times face value. But yesterday, due to the new policy, the crowds at the booth were mostly fans claiming pre-ordered purchases.
Both companies say they have considered alternatives, such as holding exhibitions at shopping malls, if they do not join the annual comics and games fair.
Chan said shopping malls usually allowed them a longer exhibition period than the five-day fair - which, he said, was better value for money.
'We've invested over HK$1 million in our booth but the event just lasts for a few days,' he said. 'Joining games fairs held in Singapore and Taiwan is also a way out, as organisers are more than willing to make arrangements that help us to do business.'
Gameone says it may team up with shopping plazas to set up its own fairs.
Fair chief executive Leung Chung-poon said it was too early to judge whether the new arrangement would cause a slump in visitors.
The number of registered members Gamania has around the world