With plans to branch out into Portugal, Berlin and London, GamerCon and its founder Ferdi Roberts had huge aspirations. With adverts proudly boasting the amount of attendees to be upwards of 20,000 people, this was set to be Ireland’s biggest gaming convention yet. But when those 20,000 attendees showed up on the 18th & 19th of March, GamerCon’s big promises turned into big letdowns.

Thousands of con goers were left waiting outside of the Convention Centre Dublin as the venue quickly reached its capacity of 8,000. People who had pre-booked tickets months in advance were left waiting in a queue for upwards of 3 hours, with no clear sign about what was going on or if they would get in at all. Things inside the convention weren’t much better, as hour-long ques formed for food that quickly ran out halfway through the day. From my experience of attending on both Saturday and Sunday, the entire third floor which was delegated to meeting & greeting YouTubers had a constant queue that never seemed to shift no-matter how much time had passed. Lines became so long that the back of ques started to push out of the main convention space and into areas reserved for staff and security.

GamerCon’s bad publicity didn’t start the day of the convention however, as many had suspicions of this new convention even before they opened their doors to the public. Many felt like the ticket prices were far more expensive than they ought to be, especially considering that other more established conventions had cheaper tickets. GamerCon’s press release & promotional video featured media taken from other conventions, including clips and images of E3, one of the largest gaming expos in the world. Even GamerCon’s own website felt off, as the eSports section of the website stated that the rules of the tournaments being held would be decided “closer to the date”, something that is still up on the website to this date. When people took to Facebook to express their apprehension about GamerCon, Ferdi Roberts reacted by threatening legal action.

Flash forward to today and Ferdi Roberts would find himself hard pressed if he was going to sue everyone talking negatively about GamerCon as hundreds of disgruntled attendees took to Facebook and the Gamercon app to share their horror stories. The vast majority of complaints came from parents who had to comfort their children after telling them that it would be impossible to see their favorite YouTubers, or people who had driven half way across the country only to be told that they weren’t getting in. The GamerCon app in particular was flooded with so many negative comments that you could only scroll through a couple of them before it would inexplicably crash.

A day after the convention had ended, Ferdi Roberts addressed the issues that plagued GamerCon with a Facebook post, admitting that were was “challenges” with queuing on Saturday before explaining that the ques on Sunday were much better and that ques inside the building were the responsibility of the Dublin Convention Centre and not his. The Dublin Convention Centre hit back saying that the ticket sales which caused the large ques inside were entirely the fault of GamerCon, which caused Ferdi Roberts to make yet another Facebook post apologizing.

With the overwhelming amount of negativity surrounding GamerCon, its easy to forget there were positive experiences to take away from it. While other conventions in Ireland are aimed more towards niche audiences, GamerCon was advertised to appeal to gamers from all walks of life. For many, this was the first convention that they had ever attended. Watching parents experience virtual reality for the first time and being blown away or seeing kids bond over the shared love of a game made me realize that GamerCon’s mass appeal was its greatest strength, even if it had led to its downfall.

With GamerCon still processing refund requests, its unknown if the convention will return to Ireland or even continue with its plans of expanding abroad. If anything, GamerCon has shown that there is a demand for large-scale conventions in Ireland, so long as people can actually get inside.