The plan was nixed but a technical glitch meant it happened that way anyway. You couldn't book a hotel unless you'd already paid for your badge.
It should be clarified that this was for people who actually managed to book through the website. Anyone who did so through the phone (which was quite a lot of us) did not have to have a paid badge. I didn't pay for a badge until much later.
I do like the plan of requiring a badge to book a room, but A LOT
of consideration will need to be made for all of the guests that attend. These need to be confirmed and communicated in a timely manner well-ahead of badge/hotel release. I believe that Fanime staff is capable of successfully implementing it, but it will absolutely be much more work than their current system.
Off the top of my head, they'll have to fix these situations before attempting the badge-before-hotel system:
1.) Give ample time for people to purchase badges before hotels get put up.
2.) Make arrangements for artist alley artists (who often will not buy badges early but will reserve hotels in the hopes that they are accepted). Many artists attend only because their art sales allow them to afford hotel/transportation, and they don't wish to buy a non-refundable badge for an event that may reject their application afterwards. Fanime staff will have to do something like reserve rooms for artists, or even better - make the artist selection process happen way before badges/hotels go up. It's possible, but like I said before, a lot of work.
3.) Any other badge-purchases that are contingent on acceptance into something (panels, press, vendors, etc.) would need to be considered and processed ahead of time.
4.) Communicate the need for purchasing badges as effectively as possible with multiple notices on the website, social media, etc. Not hard, but more work.
5.) Place some kind of limitation to how many rooms per badge can be booked and code that into the system. Badge-before-hotel is essentially useless if one guy can buy one badge and reserve 10 rooms with it.
6.) Consider those who will reserve via phone and make sure CMR is able to check whether the person has a paid badge already.
These are all things that would need to be worked out to make things fair to everyone attending. If all of us were just regular attendees, it'd probably be no problem, but there are many other people who have different needs, and it's not fair to exclude them. It is doable, just with a lot of careful preparation and work.