Sitting here after a surprisingly busy Boxing Day, I starting scanning gaming news and just in time for Christmas, Ankama Products, publisher of the Krosmaster Arena line of games, announced that, starting next year, CoolMiniOrNot will take over distribution of the line from its current distributor, Japanime Games. What does this mean for the industry and consumers? Speaking as someone in the industry but without any additional information, here’s how I see things shaking out:
Japanime Games—Comes out the worst. Based on the number of posts on the company’s Facebook page, the main focus of Japanime Games was the Krosmaster line. Japanime retains the rights to distribute already existing Krosmaster products but any new ones will come from CoolMiniOrNot. The company has three other product lines: Tanto Cuore, Kanzume Goddess and Player’s Choice card sleeves. Despite having been in production for several years, Tanto Cuore only three sets available, with Oktoberfest scheduled for 2016. Kanzume Goddess, released in 2012 and positioned as a trading card game, has never seen any expansions released, leaving the Player’s Choice line of sleeves as the most active line of the company. According to additional posts on the company’s Facebook page, Japanime will use Kickstarter to fund additional expansions to Tanto Curore as several other games including Heart of Crown and Gods’ Gambit. It looks as if Japanime plans for a pretty active 2016, especially later in the year.
CoolMiniOrNot—Adds Krosmaster Arena to an already strong selection of boardgames with expansion capabilities built in to the system. Already the home of Zombiside, Rivet Wars, and Kaos Ball, among others, the comparatively expensive Krosmaster Arena and its expansion kits will mesh well with CoolMiniOrNots existing lines of premium priced games and expansions. Since CoolMiniOrNot relies heavily on Kickstarter funding to fund the launches of new products and Japanime Games used crowdfunding to fund Krosmaster Arena and the Frigost expansion, as well as the delayed Krosmaster: Quest game. No indication so far if CoolMiniOrNot will distribute the Krosmaster: Quest game or not.
Customers—Given CoolMiniOrNot’s propensity to launch a Kickstarter campaign for nearly every product the company releases, expect to see an increased number of campaigns for new Krosmaster products as the agreement between CoolMiniOrNot and Ankama Products moves forward. Customers willing to back the Kickstarted production runs will gain access to a larger number of promotional and limited edition figures as part of the Kickstarter, than were offered with the release of a Krosmaster product under Japanime Games. The tradeoff is that customers will likely find it harder to locate Krosmaster products in their local game stores as the bonuses typically attached by manufacturers to a crowdfunded product push those customers most interested in the product line to back the product in order to get the add-ons and promos, which as CoolMiniOrNot notes on its website are “Not available at retail”.
Stores—Expect them to carry less in the way of Krosmaster products. As noted earlier, Krosmaster is a premium priced product, making it a good fit for CoolMiniOrNot. However, this also means stocking a decent selection of Krosmaster products ties up quite a bit of capital. Given that CoolMiniOrNot’s business model involves driving consumer pre-orders and pre-payment, most sales of new product will go to the company, leaving much less potential profit for the store and likely a focus by the store on a different, more profitable product line.