Throughout the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve grown significantly, into the organization we are today. We consistently get asked questions about the organization, events and staff. Here are some of those questions with answers from Aaron ‘Reactor303’ Kostuik.
Why do you not do cash prizes for Baselan events?
Winnipeg has a significant lack of venues in the medium range size, that are 1) reasonably affordable and 2) actually have the power, space and internet capabilities to host an event such as BaseLAN. Because of this lack of venues, you can either have multiple smaller events (with less incoming capital for prizing and costs) or you can have larger monster events (with extremely high costs) — there is no middle ground.
Also, note that other events in Canada do so in universities and donated spaces from corporations. We do not have this luxury as the internet at the U of M is insufficient to run competitive tournaments and will never be fast enough to do so, nor do we have corporations willing to donate free warehouse space to use.
The last piece of the puzzle is that all other major cities across Canada who have convention centers donate the space in the convention centers to host the events. The Winnipeg Convention Center is only partially owned by the government and therefore cannot give space out for free. This will change in 2016 when the new addition is completed and RBC as well as all three levels of government take over the new building. Will this then allow for BaseLAN events to get the venue free? Probably not, but we are hoping that something can be worked out.
I can simply calculate how much money AYB brings in at BaseLAN events, there is obviously extra money available, why can’t that be used for cash prizes?
Great question. You can see the amount of funds coming in, but what you don’t see are the bills that we have to pay.
Even though we have operated mostly in the positive for years, there are times where massive costs come up. For example, for BaseLAN 27 we had to purchase an entire new network, as the previous one was 10 years old. The new network had to be able to scale up as we expand but also have redundancy; attendees of previous events have experienced what happens when 1 infected computer hooks up to the network. Our new network can handle port blocking which will take down the bad computer and stop the problem before it starts. This allows for tournament matches to keep happening rather than killing the tournaments themselves with drops.
Adding on to that is venue costs, equipment/server costs, shipping, and so on. We do make a profit but that money is saved for future purchases and/or unexpected hardware failures. We also use the surplus from the May events to help pay for the massive cost increases of the fall events at the convention center. To give you a rough idea, running BaseLAN at Earl Grey Community Center costs around $8,000. Running it at the Convention Center costs roughly $25,000.
Is AYB for profit or not-for-profit?
We are for profit. We are a registered incorporated business with a CEO and a board of directors. None of these people are paid, all are volunteers, even the CEO and Board.
Are sponsors charged money to sponsor AYBOnline and BaseLAN?
No, we currently do not charge sponsors for sponsoring the event. They donate hardware based on tiered levels developed by our marketing team.
This is something that we have not done to date simply because we would need to have booth space available for them. BaseLAN 27 was the first time we’ve ever had sponsors in attendance and it went very well. At EGCC, we simply do not have the physical space for booths. Therefore, no booth space is available and that means no cash from the sponsoring companies.
We are excited to announce that many sponsors saw how well BaseLAN 27 went and we have already been in negotiation for some major companies to come and set booths for BaseLAN 29.
Why do I have to pre-register for BaseLAN, why can’t I just show up?
Space considerations. We don’t have the space to allow walk-ins for the event.
When BaseLAN was starting up, we ran into an issue where people would pre-register and then no-show. This causes problems for those that could not get in (due to the lack of space) as the floor maps would look sold out and then there’d be large open gaps on the day of. This was seen as a waste as there are many that would like to come that can’t on short notice.
Why do you not post prizes for events before the event itself?
This is probably the most asked question that we get. The reason for this is tied to the question above. Teams would register for the event and then if they didn’t like the prizes they would no-show, again wasting space for those that could have attended. We feel that events should be about the event itself, coming and playing against your friends, meeting new people and learning how to get better at the games that you play. Prizing should always be seen as a secondary thing, making it the primary focus defeats the purpose of the event itself and the gaming community that we are trying to grow.
Another reason is simply because of shipping considerations with prizing. Some shipments are weeks early and some wait until the last minute and we are not always sure if the prizes will show up. We do not want to announce a prize and then not have it even get past the border. We are considering changing this policy now that events are selling out consistently.
Why do you not allow refunds?
This is tied to both questions above; we do not offer refunds because teams would pull out or no-show at the last minute, causing those that could not get spots to not come, which then causes empty seats at the event, which leads to loss of income for the organization. This is a massive snowball effect which ultimately leaves less funds for making the event attractive to old and new attendees. We are, of course, not monsters and we will take the situation into consideration as there are always family emergencies and health issues that can arise at any time.
I don’t like my prize, I would’ve rather had cash.
You can always sell your prize to someone for cash. We are one of the only events in North America that has a sponsor list as large as the one we have. We have worked years on building marketing relationships with all our sponsors and as you’ve recently seen, because of that, our list is growing further. Other organizations such as WCG and Intel Lanfest have continually asked for our sponsor contact sheet but we’ve denied them. They have also both attempted to hire away our marketing director, and have failed.
Cash will come with time. As we expand and costs come down, you will see more and more cash prizes available as sponsors start to ‘buy’ their sponsorship. We always make sure that the winners get more value than what they paid to get into the event; even 3rd-place prizes are valued at double the entry fee.
You’ve become too commercial, you’ve lost the concept of what a LAN is!
We disagree. eSports is becoming a massive market, but we always remember that we started off with just LAN gaming and no competitions.
We offer many ways to find others for open gaming, such as our in-house program LanHUB. With it, you can find out what others are playing, message them and join in. There is nothing stopping you from coming and playing LAN games with everyone there, especially overnight and between tournament matches!
Why do I have to bring my own PC? Why don’t you provide them?
Firstly, the cost. It is just not feasible to have AYBOnline purchase computers for you to play on for $40 for the weekend. We would never make those costs back.
Secondly, no sponsor will ship that many computers to an event in Canada. The customs and duty charges alone would be devastating.
Why not have a local computer company donate them? The same reason: cost. There is no computer company in Winnipeg that can handle donating enough machines for a large group that cannot bring their own.
I don’t like Rockstar, can you get another energy drink company?
Currently there are no other energy drink companies that will match Rockstar’s agreement with us, so for now, no.
Where are you going with BaseLAN? We’ve seen many changes very quickly within the last year.
Without giving away upcoming surprises, we are moving in a direction to have an event equivalent to something like PAX in the States. We are currently in discussion phases with other groups, to help bring that about. That’s all we can say for now!.
I don’t like what you are doing. I think I can do better.
We are always open to new ideas! Save yourself the debt and headache and bring your ideas/suggestions/critiques directly to us. We love hearing ideas about things to improve and/or that will make the event better for everyone.
I’d love to join as a staff member, but I don’t know how, or what I want to do…
Sounds great! We have expanded our staff from around 20 to now well over 35 members. If you’d like to become staff or help out, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know a bit about yourself and what you’d be interested in doing.
All new staff start out at the bottom, helping with setup and takedown. If we see you have drive or we think that you will be beneficial to the organization, we will definitely take you aside afterwards to discuss moving up. We always have openings in Admin, Tournament Organization, Sales/Merch, Marketing and Infrastructure. (Note that we are not only a twice a year event, we routinely get hired to host events in other cities as well, so there are some travel perks!)