So plans were in the process for Armor-Geddon to have a booth at AX this year. Last year H4773r and I were sent on a scouting mission to see if it would be profitable to have booth there. As we were settling out the details for this year we learned about AM^2. The people we had talked to were tellings us the AX is going down the hill and that more people would be attending AM^2 would be the big thing for the future. Plus, AM^2 registration is free. Upon hearing this news, NBL decided to abandon going to AX. H4773r and I had a wonderful time last year and we have friends also going this year so we decided to go anyway.
I have had to do a little internet digging to learn more about AM^2 and it's "controversy" with AX. Initially someone told me AM^2 was started by former AX volunteers that were tired of how AX was being run. I managed to find an article on Anime News Network that addresses the quitting of several AX employees over disputes with the Board of Directors of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the organization that oversees AX. Another post on Project 760 has a list of specific "greivances" against the CEO, Michale Lattanzio.
One thing that is specifically mentioned, that seems to lead up to the supposed creation of AM^2, is the dismissal of Chase Wang, founder of BAM! Marketing, Publicity
and Promotions, who had served as AX's Publicity Director. Chase Wang is now the creator of AM^2. From several articles I've read that interview Wang he seems to want to cater this con towards fans, creating allowing them "to have control and choose, a la carte style, which activities they wanted to participate in." Ref
I completely respect what Wang is attempting to do and it will be amazing if he pulls it off, especially attempting to maintain badge-free registration and going up the same weekend as AX. Part of me is disappointed that Wang is choosing to do up on July 4th weekend. I am hoping to visit both cons, but plan on staying mostly at AX. I hope in the future Wang reconsiders putting up the con a different weekend.
I also wonder how Wang expects to keep things badge-free and run the con nearly 24 hours for 3 days straight. Perhaps through the Passport badges they're selling? AM^2 is offering "Passport badges" for the price of $25 for one day, $35 for two days, and $45 for all 3 days. These badges apparently serve as VIP passes. You can supposedly get into all events for free, but the Passport badges get you perks like priority seating and some discounts. Personally, as a first-time attendee I would probably pass on the Passport badge.
Also this isn't the first time Wang has attempted to set up such an event. Internet research reveals that AM^2 was actually created last year as a one day event known as Club 2 the MAX. It was held at Club Nokia and featured Tales from Earthsea US trailer. Based on the success of Club 2 the MAX, Wang decided to re-create it as an actual 3 day con.
Again, I very much hope I'll be able to check out AM^2 over the weekend and that in future it won't be held on the same weekend as AX.