I know that COVID-19/20/21D or whatever the current flu-scare is puts a dent in attendance, but moving the convention out of the summer (technically it is still summer...for like 3 days) and very much into the school year can't help with attendance either. It'll be harder for families to attend and moving this big con hurts other conventions. It's pretty obvious that Origins is trying to work around GenCon, and surely there are other conventions that are getting screwed over by the "Big Boys" moving their dates around.
Yes, I know that GenCon is a business and needs to make money, but it feels like...to me...that they are pushing their weight around a bit, to the detriment of others, something they've done for years to a lesser extent.
Now clearly I'm kind of biased against GenCon here, so I'm certain that I see a bit of the negative aspects of this move, but this bias has been earned, so bear with me.
Having spent a few years as a convention tournament organizer for both Origins and GenCon who also volunteered at a exhibitor booth, I got to see a little bit behind the curtain. From my experience, and perspective, Origins cares about gamers and GenCon cares about making money.
Origins: Every year I'd have Origins staff check in on my group and make sure everything was going well. They helped me treat GMs a a valuable resource and the staff seemed to be passionate volunteers. Plenty of hotel space available unless you just had to have a room in one of the attached hotels, which I wouldn't recommend unless you want to wait forever on/in elevators for just an "ok" room.
GenCon: Having our tables double-booked was a regular event. The staff seemed to be employees and if I saw them it was for them to verify we all had badges and event tickets. Tickets and badges were all the seemed to care about. Good luck getting lodging at any nearby hotel and registering for games is an exercise in frustration.
As the years ticked by working the booth and talking to other vendors I saw a disturbing trend: many publishers have to make a decision between attending GenCon or Origins. Some of this was due to shifting dates, but lot was due to the expense of attending GenCon and since it was growing every year if you had to pick one, GenCon seemed to be it.
Now as far as the "big" cons go I'm clearly a fan of Origins, but really it's the smaller local conventions that have my attention these days. I'd rather spend a $1000 at North Texas RPG and have a great weekend experience than spend $1000 at GenCon which maybe gets me to Indy and a night or two of hotel (but no badge or event tickets!)
This year there are like 16 September conventions, not counting GenCon & Origins. Two events that would have been during GenCon were cancelled. In 2017 there were 21 conventions during Spetember. In 2018 & 2019 there were 27 conventions during September. Now some of the difference could be COVID related, but there were more cancelled events this year. Looking back over the last several years, no table-top gaming conventions shared time with GenCon.....until this year where there were two, with one being cancelled.
I know it isn't a deep-delve in the data and just a high-level pass, but anecdotally it seemed that GenCon moving to a later date is affecting smaller gaming conventions, and not for the better. Not a fan.....
GenCon 2021 had 1312 RPG games listed, while Origins 2021 has roughly half that at 616 RPG games listed. Now both sound like a lot, but in GenCon's case it looks like roughly half of those RPG events are D&D 5th Edition (Origins far less as a percentage). Since I'm guessing that the majority of the Tavern patrons are OSR fans, this info might be relevant.
TL;DR- If you "have" to attend a big con, check out Origins, but I'd rather go to a smaller local convention.