What Are The Odds Of Getting A San Diego Comic-Con Badge?

Comic Con BadgesUnfortunately, every year in Open Registration, people walk away empty-handed. Why? It’s not lack of planning. The real problem is very simple: There is much more demand for badges at Comic-Con than there are available badges.

One of the questions that we get asked around badge sale time, time and again, is what are the odds of being able to score entry into the convention as a general attendee?

Although Comic-Con International doesn’t break down their attendance numbers, we can at least estimate to get a general idea of just how tough the biggest, baddest pop culture convention really is to get into.

San Diego Comic-Con hosts at least 130,000 attendees every year (it says so, right on CCI’s About page). We’re assuming that not all of those are general attendees — and that those numbers also include membership groups that have their own badge sales and badge registration processes, which include things like Creative and Trade Professionals, Press, Exhibitors, Volunteers, Panelists, Children (who can register free on-site), Staff, and more. So for our purposes, let’s estimate on probably the lower end, and say that all of those groups combined only take up 20,000 badges.

That still leaves 110,000 badges in play for general attendees to try for. Although we don’t know the exact number of badges split between Preregistration and Open Registration (the two Comic-Con badge sales), as they both took roughly the same time to sell out this year (they were within five minutes of each other, if you take into account that PreReg’s “sorting hat” finished its job five minutes earlier), let’s just assume that it’s 50/50. That would mean each badge sale has 55,000 badges up for grabs — and for our purposes, and because we are not statisticians, we’re also assuming that “one badge” is equal to all four days, even though attendees can choose to buy badges for any combination of single days.

But how many people are trying to get those 55,000 badges each time? Well, that’s a pretty easy number to figure for Preregistration. 110,000 general attendees who attended in 2014 would be trying for 55,000 general attendee badges in 2015 — so each person has a 50% chance of getting a badge in that sale. Great odds!

But what if you aren’t so lucky, and either can’t participate in Preregistration, or didn’t get what you wanted in the sale? Well, Open Registration is an entirely different ballgame.

Web Performance, a tech company that works on the back-end of EPIC Registration’s system, released a press release last year that said “as many as 900,000 visitors [compete] for a limited number of tickets at the exact same time” in Comic-Con’s sale.

900,000 people. 55,000 badges.

The odds don’t look so good this time, do they? And they’re not terrible, but they’re far from great — it’s actually roughly a 1:16 chance now, or 6.11% chance of being able to score a badge. You have a higher chance of getting cancer than you do of grabbing a Comic-Con badge, but at least you have better odds than being audited by the IRS?

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These numbers are very basic, though. Obviously, there are a million factors we’re not taking into consideration — the fact that some of those 900,000 people will leave after Preview Night or Saturday sells out, the fact that some people only want one day badge, the fact that you wore your hair up instead of down and it angered the Comic-Con Gods, and anything else we’re not taking into account.

But what these numbers do show is one important thing: It is far from guaranteed to walk away with a Comic-Con badge, which is exactly what CCI has been saying all along. And also why working in groups to secure badges is still the best way to snag one. If you have two people in your group, your odds suddenly go up to 1 in 8. Three people in your group? Even better.

For those of you that did score a badge on Saturday, give yourselves a pat on the back for being one of the lucky ones. And for those of you who didn’t — you only have to try fifteen more times, and the odds say you’ll get in at least once?

Are you surprised by these numbers? Let us know in the comments.

About Kerry Dixon

Kerry Dixon is Editor-in-Chief of The San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog and the site's resident panel guru.