Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Only Variant Cover In The Gaming Industry (of which I know)

Channel specific and variant covers are fairly common in the comic industry but extremely rare in the game industry. The only previous example that comes to mind immediately (and please email if you can think of other instances) occurred back in 2007 when Avalanche Press released its Rome at War III:  Queen of the Celts boardgame, focusing on the Roman invasion of Britain. Avalanche Press released a tame cover featuring a sword and shield and a more risqué cover, with a bare breasted Queen Boudicca, with strategically placed hair, riding a chariot into battle. Avalanche Press had released a number of sourcebooks and adventures with similar pinup style cover art under the OGL earlier in the decade, which, after the first couple, had not sold very well. Hence, upon deciding the company wanted to use the same artist for Queen of the Celts, but realizing a number of retailers might object to what it called the “pinup” cover, it released a tamer cover as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Volo's Guide to Monsters

Volo's Guide to Monsters, which arrives next month, will take a direction similar to what Shadowrun has done for a number of years, interspersing commentary on the entries from both Volothamp Geddarm and Elminister. You Shadowrun fans will remember that many of their guidebooks to the world come annotated with comments from "runners" in the world, as if the books existed in digital form and they were able to comment upon it. Such comments could clarify points, obscure them or even offer adventure hooks. Hopefully, the comments added to the Volo's Guide will prove similar.

Volo's Guide to Monsters will ship with two covers, a "mass market" version and a "game store" version. We currently only have the game store version ordered so if you want a copy of the mass market cover, let us know.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Derived Demand and the Collapse of Hastings

This week's ICV2 column looks at the concept of "derived demand", which I addressed some last week and how it contributed to the collapse of Hastings.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

How to Get Hired (or Avoid Getting Hired)

Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, has a pretty good post on, especially if you are a student, how to best position yourself to encourage a potential employer to hire you. A couple of things I will comment on:

1.  If you want a job at a place, show you are interested and planned ahead by bringing a resume with you. Coming in without one and asking if we are hiring indicates that stopping was more of a spur of the moment impulse.

2. Dress appropriately. If you are applying for a job here and are male, suit and tie are not necessary, nor are a skirt or dress if you are a female. Staff doesn't wear them here so you don't need to when applying. On the other hand, staff here doesn't wear pajama bottoms or t-shirts with obscene sayings on them, so applying wearing those is not a good idea.

3.  Much as I tell my students at SEMO, unfortunately, potential employers are not interested in what your job goals are or in which fields you would like to work. Employers want to hire you to fill a specific need they have in the organization. If I need someone to work odd hours on the store schedule, you are more likely to get hired if you indicate you can work during those times than saying you need every night off.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Derived Demand

Stores almost never buy games because the owner wants them (except in those cases where the store owner opens the store because of their love of the game as is the case with a lot of card shops). Store stock games because of  "derived demand".

Derived demand is the concept that business make purchases because  of demand for a product or service that is caused by another source. In its basic form, stores buy merchandise for resale that they believe their customers want to purchase. This is why one store stocks WarMachine while another carries Flames of War, while one store has a fantastic selection of independent graphic novels, and another has almost none. Stores purchase products based on what their customers tell them they want by what they purchase.

Case in point Cardfight Vanguard. A number of stores in the St. Louis area do well with it. We do not. I think we have sold one pack in the past 2 months. Every once in awhile we get someone who asks for tournaments and we tell them that we will happily host them when sales show there is a demand for them. So far, demand has not justified any more support for the game. We would like to run tournaments for it and Force of Will and DBZ and Arkham Horror and Flames of War etc. but the sales for them just don't justify us putting in the effort.

Derived demand is one of the problems  that led to Hasting's bankruptcy. As I understand it, headquarters ordered much of the product for the individual stores and did not take into consideration individual demand for pop culture products, especially POP figures and comics, by customers at the stores. Sales of those need very close monitoring else a store can develop a bad case of inventory creep, with product sitting on the shelf instead of turning into cash.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Stealth Products

Stealth products always bemuse me. By stealth products, I mean products that show up with little advance motive or promotion that my customers would have quite a bit of interest in if I could let them know about it. Cases in point the new Legendary Deadpool expansion and the Dominion upgrade set that came out a couple of weeks ago.

Contrast the (lack of)promotion surrounding them with the amount of promotion WOTC put out for the new Widow's Walk expansion for Betrayal At House on the Hill.  Stores knew about this expansion months ago and could put in pre-orders for it 8 weeks ago. We were able to talk it up with customers and even tell them the exact date we expected to have it in store. Both Deadpool and the Expansion Set arrived with almost no advance notice. We found out about Deadpool this week and the Dominion Expansion Set the week before it arrived. Hardly enough time to generate any interest or let customers know about the product.