Monday, September 29, 2014

The Game Store Model



Midway through release weekend for Khans of Tarkir and it is the quiet time of the evening so naturally I got to musing about how the typical hobby game store has changed over the years and just how uniquely the hobby game store model has developed compared to other store categories with which it is typically lumped, such as comic book and pop culture stores. Despite the fact that we operate using the same basic model of distribution as do Macy’s, Target, Dollar General, Hibbit’s, even Toys r Us and Olive Garden, the hobby game store, with the encouragement of manufacturers, has developed a very unique business plan closely tying sales to events.

In the traditional or full model of distribution, which even mighty Amazon uses in a modified format, the manufacturer makes the product, then sells it to the retailer, who then sells it to the consumer, who then takes it home and uses it. For many products, the distributor also fits into the channel, positioned between the manufacturer and retailer.

The difference between the hobby game store and almost every other type of retailer out there is that hobby game stores sell the product and then are expected to facilitate their use. Take Macys. Macys sells you clothes, shoes, curtains, bedding, etc. The customer buys them and takes them home, then wears them, puts them on the bed, hangs them on the windows and so forth.

Contrast that with the typical hobby game store. Not only do we sell the customer a product but we provide play space for the product and organize events in which customers can participate, with most stores running events every day, many of which have prizes and organization provided by the manufacturer. Structured play has developed into such an important facet of the industry that we call it Organized Play or OP and most game companies have some form of OP program in place, with more companies looking to start up their own OP programs every week or so it seems. I just received an email from Japanime Games, asking us if we had any interest in starting OP for Tanto Cuore and/or Krosmaster:  Arena. Currently, I can think of Organized Play programs from WOTC, AEG, Privateer, Alderac, Bushiroad, Konami, Arcane Wonders, Fantasy Flight Games, StoneBridge, Paizo and probably others that I cannot think of at the moment.

The thing is, no other retail category (with the possible exception of the traditional hobby i.e. RC, model railroads, etc.) has developed a model in which they sell a product to the customer then provides the customer with places and times in which to use it. We sell customers Magic cards, then are expected to run Magic tournaments. We sell customers Warhammer 40,000 figures then are expected to have terrain and table space available. We sell people King of Tokyo and are expected to host King of Tokyo championships. A common question from manufacturers when stores apply for OP status is how many players can the store seat and many stores I have seen run their merchandise displays along the walls with table space in the center.

We do this because, over time, we, and I mean both stores and manufacturers, have found that this model promotes more sales.  WOTC often refers to studies the company has done showing that OP boosts sales. It’s a no-brainer for most stores but it is also a fairly unique model we have developed.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Harley Quinn Annual To Include Scents

The Harley Quinn Annual arriving in October will come polybaged.  Why? Glad you asked. The first printings of the issue will come with scratch and sniff inserts at appropraite points in the story with the scents of leather, suntan lotion, pizza and cannabis. From the email:


The ‘rub and smell’ scents featured in HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1 were chosen in an 
effort to capture the world in which Harley lives. This 'scenticular' book was 
created in the spirit of innovation and fun that DC Entertainment brings to our 
fans every day.

There will be two editions of HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1 available to retailers, and 
each edition will have a BOMBSHELLS variant. All copies will by poly-bagged.

UPDATE: Retailers, please note that the ‘rub and smell’ feature will only be 
included in the first printings of this title.

The first edition and variant, available for purchase only in the domestic 
United States, includes smells similar to leather, suntan lotion, pizza and 
what’s referred to in the story as “cannabisylocibe 7-A.”

• HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1 (JUL148429)
• HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1 BOMBSHELLS VARIANT (JUL148430)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

X-Wing Release Schedule Through 2014

X-Wing
9/8/2014

This is a reprint! Q4 2014


For more information about this product, click the image to visit the X-Wing website.
X-Wing
Miniatures
Expected by:  This is a reprint
X-Wing: Rebel Transport Expansion Pack
7/17/2014

This is a reprint! Q3 2014


For more information about this product, click the image to visit the X-Wing website.
X-Wing: Rebel Transport Expansion Pack
Miniatures
Expected by:  This is a reprint
X-Wing: Tantive IV Expansion Pack
9/19/2014

This is a reprint! Q3 2014


For more information about this product, click the image to visit the X-Wing website.
Miniatures
Expected by:  This is a reprint
X-Wing: TIE Advanced Expansion Pack
7/17/2014

This is a reprint! Q3 2014


For more information about this product, click the image to visit the X-Wing website.
X-Wing: TIE Advanced Expansion Pack
Miniatures
Expected by:  This is a reprint
X-Wing: TIE Fighter Expansion Pack
7/17/2014

This is a reprint! Q3 2014


For more information about this product, click the image to visit the X-Wing website.
X-Wing: TIE Fighter Expansion Pack
Miniatures
Expected by:  This is a reprint
X-Wing: VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack
9/19/2014 The VT-49 Decimator is one of the Empire’s most feared warships, often used to provide long-range reconnaissance or deploy raiding parties behind enemy forces. The VT-49 Decimator Expansion Pack brings this intimidating Imperial gunboat to X-Wing™ as a hulking, large-base ship that towers over smaller starfighters.
For more information about this product, visit the X-Wing website.
Miniatures
Expected by:  Q3 2014
X-Wing: X-Wing Expansion Pack
7/17/2014

This is a reprint! Q3 2014


For more information about this product, click the image to visit the X-Wing website.
X-Wing: X-Wing Expansion Pack
Miniatures
Expected by:  This is a reprint
X-Wing: Y-Wing Expansion Pack
7/17/2014

This is a reprint! Q3 2014


For more information about this product, click the image to visit the X-Wing website.
X-Wing: Y-Wing Expansion Pack
Miniatures
Expected by:  This is a reprint
X-Wing: YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack
9/19/2014 A fast and resilient light freighter, the YT-2400 features thirteen weapon emplacement points, making it an attractive vessel for smugglers like Dash Rendar who favor a heavily armed “transport.” In X-Wing™, the YT-2400 Freighter Expansion Pack presents this formidable light freighter as a Rebel starship capable of equipping a turret-mounted cannon.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Guild Delayed

Yet again.  Here's the email from Paizo:

Unfortunately, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Class Decks, which are required for playing in the Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild Organized Play program, have been delayed yet again, and the new retail release date for the Class Decks will be October 1. As a result, the Adventure Card Guild retail launch is delayed to the same date. Additionally, delays with Adventure Deck 2 have caused it, and all future Skull & Shackles decks, to be delayed by a month, so we'll be spacing out releases a bit differently than we had previously planned.
The first adventure in Season of the Shackles consists of 6 separate scenarios, while future adventures will be composed of 4 scenarios each. Here's the current release schedule:
Date Release
October 1 Adventure 1 Scenarios 1–4
October 8 Adventure 1 Scenario 5
October 15 Adventure 1 Scenario 6
October 22 Adventure 2 Scenario 1
October 29 Adventure 2 Scenario 2
November 5 Adventure 2 Scenario 3
November 12 Adventure 2 Scenario 4
November 19 Adventure 3 Scenario 1
November 26 Adventure 3 Scenario 2
December 3 Adventure 3 Scenario 3
December 10 Adventure 3 Scenario 4
December 17 Adventure 4 Scenario 1
December 24 HOLIDAY
December 31 HOLIDAY
January 7 Adventure 4 Scenario 2
January 14 Adventure 4 Scenario 3
January 21 Adventure 4 Scenario 4
January 28 Adventure 5 Scenario 1
February 4 Adventure 5 Scenario 2
February 11 Adventure 5 Scenario 3
February 18 Adventure 5 Scenario 4
February 25 Adventure 6 Scenario 1
March 4 Adventure 6 Scenario 2
March 11 Adventure 6 Scenario 3
March 18 Adventure 6 Scenario 4

5th Editon Monster Manual vs. Space Hulk

Both the 5th edition Monster Manual and Space Hulk released last Friday. Sales of the Monster Manual were brisk, especially on Friday and Saturday, as we through half of our order. Space Hulk sales were much lighter, with only 1 copy sold over the weekend.

I expect to see Monster Manual sales stay brisk but taper off like the Player's Handbook did, though overall, I would expect sales of the MM to run about half those of the Player's Handbook. Space Hulk sales should remain slow but will pick up as Christmas approaches.  The $125 price on the Space Hulk makes it more of a gift item, while the Monster Manual is more of a "me" book, in that I am buying it for myself.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Belle of the Ball

New Game From Dice Hate Me Games.  Looks like a variant of Love Letter but reviews have been good
Belle of the Ball
Product Code: GSUDHMBELL01

MSRP: $20.00


Street Date: October 3, 2014
Number of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Recommended Ages: 8 and up
Game Description:
It is the eve of Carnivale on the magical Victorian isle of Ludobel, and you are all invited to the fantastical festivities!
In the card game Belle of the Ball, players take on the roles of party hosts, seeking the best mix of guests to make their gala the greatest by the end of the night. In order to ensure that they stay one step ahead of the other hosts, players will have to carefully watch the growing line of guests at the door, inviting those in that seem to share passions with partygoers already inside, all the while handing out their precious stash of Regrets to those who should seek refuge elsewhere. Of course, other hosts may find it advantageous to invite a rejected guest inside just to collect their accumulated Regrets for later use.
Hosts may also choose to ignore the competition for guests and instead try to earn the favor of the Belle of the Ball herself, whose charms can make or break any party.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Travails of Games Workshop



GW is having quite a few problems, it seems. Worldwide sales down 8.2%, North American sales down 7.5%, profits down about 50%. The company has slowed down the sales drop from the first half of the year but, geez, the company is still hurting. Opening 10 stores this year while closing 23 leaves the company at 87, just over 10% fewer than the company had a year ago and about 70% of those stores remaining are “one-man” stores, which only employ one person, put them on salary and let that manager, within restrictions, set the hours for the store (incidentally, according to Glass Door, the typical Games Workshop one-man store manager makes about $34000 per year, with just over another $7000 in bonuses). This is a far cry from the Battle Bunkers of days of yore, with a dozen miniatures tables set up and half as many staff members, ready to demo a game at the drop of a Squig. I don’t care how devoted they are to the hobby, one staff member cannot give customers the same attention that a staff of 3-4 can, and getting new players into Games Workshop requires a significant amount of hand holding. No-one walks into a store with the intention of dropping $90 to $100+ on GW product without trying it out first and getting infected by other players.

GW appears pretty happy with the amount of costs it has cut by moving to the new retail model. However, speaking from the independent stockiest viewpoint, Games Workshop could do two things to juice sales at my end.
11)      Remember those new players I mentioned earlier? Produce a beginners box for me to sell to them. No, Dark Vengeance is not a beginners box, it is a starter set. Different animal. $99 is not a price point for a beginners box but $25 to $40 is. Produce a box with a pair of plastic 5 figure squads (that the customer doesn’t have to glue together, except maybe to the base) dice, and cardboard range markers and templates. GW will make lots of money off this person over the next 5-8 years, give me something with which to set the hook.

22)      Give me information about your new releases. Keeping retailers and customers in the dark has not generated any more anticipation about GW products than existed before, it just makes it harder for us to know what is coming out and we look clueless when our customers come telling us about some rumored new release (that usually turns out correct) that we know next to nothing about. I really have neither the time, nor the desire to scour the Bell of Lost Souls for information on new GW products coming out that GW should be giving stores weeks or even (gasp) months in advance.

I don’t expect GW to listen to me (I’ve been telling them to stick packing lists back in their shipments for months now and we can see how much good that has done) and, Surprise, we have Space Hulk arriving this week. Sigh. It would have been really nice to have spent the last few weeks ginning up interest on this and the new Nagash undead figures