Monday, 3 February 2014

BUCK is back... at a price

It's official: BUCK 2014 will be held at Manchester Central over the August Bank Holiday weekend (23-24 August) with the Summer Sun Celebration taking place the night before. So, after all the talk that the con was going to be in Birmingham, and that there'd be a change to an earlier date, BUCK has actually ended up literally across the road from its 2013 home at the Bridgewater Hall and on exactly the same weekend! Promo video embedded above: if you can't see it then click here.

The big talking point so far has been the increased price of entry. The con's costs have gone up a good deal since last year – it's now big enough to be VAT-registered, for one thing – and that's been reflected in substantial rises in admission charges. Tickets aren't on sale quite yet, but here's the detail:

Standard: £80 (up 45% on last year's £55)
20% Cooler: £190 (up 48% on last year's £135)
Celestia: £335 (up 25% on last year's £250)
SSC: £20 (up 33% on last year's £15)

You can mitigate the impact somewhat, at least as far as Standard tickets are concerned, by getting in quickly and grabbing an Earlybird special. These will sell for £65, but rather irritatingly the organisers won't say how many are available: it's a case of "when they're gone, they're gone". (Edit: there are officially 200.) The full £80 is, whether coincidentally or not, exactly the same price as non-residential admission to ConFuzzled. That's in a hotel, so BUCK clearly wins on venue prestigiousness.

The SSC ticket looks like the best value of the lot, and I could see some people going only to that. At the other end of the scale, most of those who buy Celestia tickets dwell in another financial universe to the rest of us, so they'd probably pay £1,000 if they had to. The big concern for me is the 20% Cooler tier: that's suffered the largest increase (with no Earlybird discount) and is now very expensive. Using ConFuzzled as a comparison again, their broadly similar Sponsor-tier ticket is £130.

BUCK is an expensive con – and yes, it's still an expensive con even compared to other non-expo cons held in the UK. I've mentioned ConFuzzled, but another example is DWCon, for the Discworld fandom, where a full-rate Standard ticket costs £65. And of course there's UK PonyCon; they seem to leave it later than most to announce ticketing details, but last year a weekend pass could be had for £35, from memory. Sure, it's an altogether smaller-scale event and not specifically G4 focused, but it's still a pony convention.

Will I be going to BUCK? I'd like to, but Manchester is much more expensive for me than Birmingham would have been, and with the higher admission prices on top it's going to be touch and go for a while. I'm certain BUCK will be a great event, and I'd urge you to go if you can... but I think we may be getting close to the limit of what even our "throwing money at the screen" fandom may bear. Another similar increase in 2015 would take Standard admission into three figures – and that really would be too high.

1 comment:

  1. Whilst I agree, 20% of the price increase is solely down to VAT, so I doubt prices increases will ever be that big again.