Calculating the odds on Open Registration

23 FEBRUARY 2015

Let me start with a caveat: the below is not meant to be scientifically sound or predictive, just interesting. I'm no Nate Silver.

Over the weekend a fair number of results and experiences trickled in from my friends regarding who got picked and who didn't for Open Reg. As you know, CCI does not release the number of Member IDs in existence, which always makes registration something of a question mark. What are the odds of getting picked? How many people do you need to team up with? Being obsessed with numbers and statistics, I was fairly keen on finding out who got picked for what out of how many people.

Here's what I know. By "people" I mean Member IDs/registration codes.

  • My group had 7 people in it. (I ended up not buying through my group because my ex had a free spot in his group when he got picked, which was how I got my Preview Night badge.) Out of the 7 of us, 1 Member ID got picked (mine) in time for Thursday, Friday and Sunday badges. 1 other Member ID got picked at the very, very tail end - as in, they were still paying when the SOLD OUT announcement happened. However, because they had other people to buy for, two of my people, both first-timers, got nothing.

  • Another group had 4 people. 1 got picked for Preview Night. The other 3 Member IDs never got picked, at all.

  • Another group with 4 people went through the exact same thing, except they got 4-days for the one that got picked.

  • Someone who did it on his own got picked right away for Preview Night; the other 3 people who did it on their own either didn't get picked at all or just got a Sunday badge.

  • A group of 9 people got picked twice, both for Preview Night.

  • A group of 3 people got picked once, for Thursday/Sunday.

  • A group of 4 didn't get picked at all.

  • A group of 3 didn't get picked at all.

  • A group of 2 got picked once, for four day badges.

  • A group of 5 got picked once, for Thursday, Friday, Sunday.

  • Another group of 3 didn't get picked at all.

So those are my results so far. If you want to share yours, please do.

Obviously the situation is pretty grim. There are a lot of people/Member IDs in the mix and the odds of getting a badge - any badge - seem smaller than ever. Experienced attendees have perceived the same difference; many were stunned that they were shut out so entirely despite working with friends. For instance, one of the above groups of 4 was a family, two parents, two kids. My friend was so confident that at least 2 of their Member IDs would be picked that she went ahead and got badges for herself, her husband & her daughter when they got picked; since they were never picked again, her 14 year old son is badgeless.

You can see in the above numbers that 1) getting picked is pretty random and 2) working with groups is the way to go, but still doesn't guarantee anything. And as with all things SDCC, attendees will keep refining their methods and exploiting the system, upping the ante and increasing the desperation. It's what we do.

I used to say that I consistently heard from people who didn't get a badge to people who did in a 3:1 ratio. Not only is that a better ratio than reflected above, it probably was skewed slightly since people complain in higher numbers than they express positive sentiments. Regardless, those odds are far better than what we seem to face right now - unless I just happen to know unlucky people.

I always feel like a hypocrite and an ass when I tell people, from my Preview Night throne, "Hey, it's not that bad! You'll find another Con!" But this is the point when I do just that - not just those of you who washed out but those of you who are looking at future years, myself included. You cannot count on going to San Diego Comic-Con. You just can't. So my advice to you is to start looking around and finding other events to enjoy, instead of putting all your eggs in an overloaded basket. That way, if you get badges next year, you're good - and if you don't, you have other Cons to fall back on.

For those of you who did get badges? I know I haven't addressed you yet. I will later and tell you how you can start preparing now and what you need to do over the months ahead.


  1. I'll toss my two cents in, of my group it was just my wife and I and a friend. I got in about 15 minutes in, got my preview badge, and a one day badge for her (she's just not as into it as me). So of 3 only one of us got selected for what it's worth.

    1. That sounds about right. Your wife is definitely a minority - the person who could have had a Preview Night badge and didn't want it.

    2. Yeah, if I'm being honest she didn't even watch Star Wars until about 3-4 years ago. She would have been fine not going at all but she took a Saturday pass just to see the spectacle of it all. She's happy to let me nerd out though. We're working attorneys so taking 3 days off for stuff she doesn't care about just isn't her bag.

    3. That makes sense. I'm sure she'll have fun.

  2. We had six people in my group but 3 of us already had 4 day passes from prereg so we were just trying for the other 3 and only one person got in for Thursday/Sunday badges

  3. We had 2 sets of 3 and 4. One got picked for 4 day badges.... one got picked for Sundsy.

  4. Hi Valerie. After reading these stats, I don't know whether to feel like we're all trying for a golden ticket to Mr. Wonka's factory or a Lotto player who jumps in only when the cash prize is ginormous. For what it's worth, I was with a group of 5, and none of us left the waiting room.

    1. That's incredible to me - 5 chances and not one picked. I think it's obvious that we're dealing with a exponentially bigger number of Member IDs. And I have a feeling that the frustration of this year is going to inspire people to try to exploit the system next year.
      There's a total Willy Wonka dynamic in play. I'll nominate myself for Veruca Salt.