Note: I didn't post this to the "North America Leg 1" forum because my topic is not specific to Leg 1 or any particular city/date, although it seems to be specific to North America.
So for the general public onsale (in North America), it seems that 100% of all tickets that would normally be available for the public to purchase on Ticketmaster will only be sold to people who have registered for their VerifiedFan program.
And from reading about this program, it seems to be a way to:
Change the way in which people get tickets from first-come first-served to random selection (in part -- see below). It was not obvious to me until I read their FAQ several times but there is simply no way to purchase tickets unless you have been randomly chosen. A side point is that since this is so different/new, I'm not sure why it isn't stated at the top of related web pages in giant text.
Perhaps actually "verify" that someone is a "fan" and not a reseller or scalper.
Prevent Ticketmaster's servers from crashing.
So here are some questions:
a) Ticketmaster states repeatedly that EVEN if you are randomly selected to have the chance to purchase tickets, those tickets are not guaranteed. My interpretation of this is that say there are 10,000 tickets that will be available for a show. They will randomly select some number of people that is LARGER than 10,000. The question is why would they do this and how much larger? At first it seems silly, because it will just trigger a subsequent first-come first-served race like we have today. But I suppose they need to account for people who are randomly selected but cannot complete a purchase due to declined credit cards, no longer wanting to attend, logistical issues making the purchase promptly, etc. But is that all that it is, or do they seriously purposely select more people because they actually want to sustain a first-come first-served market for some other reason? A complicating factor is that of course people value venue sections differently and so yes your particular preferred section may be sold out but I am ignoring this aspect of it for now.
Side note: why don't they just do it in timed phases instead. In other words, randomly select exactly 10,000 people. Give them 1 hour to complete the purchase. If only 9,000 people manage to do this, then randomly select 1000 more people after the first hour and give them 1 hour (or maybe 2 hours due to the short notice) to make their purchase. Continue this for a few hours until the number of tickets left is insignificant. Now you've avoided people getting selected and then later being disappointed,.
b ) Do they really verify that people are "fans" in some way other than the natural weeding out of non-fans that would happen as a result of the change in process?
Update: yes it seems they actually try to do this but of course tickets still end up on sale elsewhere. But it is possible that those are individuals and not professional scalpers, or perhaps just fewer professionals than before. We don't really know.
c) When does the VerifiedFan sale end? What is unclear to me is what happens if a concert does not have pre-registered demand that exceeds the supply. In other words, say a show does not sell out on the first date of being on sale to the VerifiedFans. A few days (or hours or weeks or months) later, Ticketmaster must be switching to regular first-come first-served because random selection does not make sense when the set of people who want to purchase tickets is ever-changing (after the on sale date) unless they release tickets in weekly batches or something crazy like that. Plus by this time the published deadline for registration is by definition in the past.
Update: it seems that if a show did not come close to selling out, then after the first day of the VerifiedFan sale (midnight local), the show reverts to a regular public sale on the second day at 10am local time.
d) Several people below feel that this change takes away a perceived advantage to long-time avid fans who would normally use their awareness of and experience with the first-come first-served process to have a bigger chance of getting tickets. Is this fair? Is it actually what is going to happen? Is it something that Ticketmaster and/or U2 wants to happen? Is it just a perceived loss of control in something that was actually always largely random to begin with?
e) Ticketmaster requires us to register separately for each individual show to which we want VerifiedFan access. Does that mean each show has its own independent random selection process and that a fan will receive a separate code for each show to which he/she registered AND was selected? Or is there a single random selection process across all shows and if a fan is selected, that fan will receive a single code which will work on all of the shows to which he/she registered?
Update: There appears to be a single random selection across all shows. If you are selected, you get a code for each and every show that you registered for. The selection is not per show but the code is (initially). Later on during the day, Ticketmaster sent update emails saying that a single code could be used for multiple shows.
Note: I understand that there will be a lot of licensed re-sellers just like always, and scalpers will defeat this easily, and that the program has already had numerous issues with prior shows for other artists.