Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Interview with Matthew Rosenberg, Author of Hawkeye: Freefall

The Hawkeye Freefall series from Marvel releases January 1st. The store reached out to the writer, Matthew Rosenberg for some information about the series.

1. What Is Hawkeye Free fall about? Hawkeye Freefall is about Clint Barton getting in over his head while his world starts to spin out of control. A run in with The Hood that goes bad triggers an obsession in him to take down a villain who is, frankly, a bit out of his weight class. Meanwhile a new Ronin is carving a bloody path across New York and giving Clint a bad name. 2. Who will Hawkeye Freefall appeal to? I hope everyone. It's got big superhero action, a fun character driven story, a gripping mystery, lots of humor and heart, gorgeous art, and all of the other things that people like. So basically, if you like anything, you should like Hawkeye. 3. Are all the issues ready to go? No, that's not really how Marvel (or most publishers) work. I'm writing issue #4 now, Otto is drawing issue #3. And, if I can say this without sounding egotistical, each issue is better than the previous, which is a very fun feeling. 4. Is this a stand alone or do readers need to have a good knowledge of the Marvel Universe? While we nod to a lot of past Hakweye stories and have a ton of fun guest appearances, we made this specifically so first time readers could pick it up. We never want to talk down to the long time Marvel fan or do retreads for them, but we want to make sure anyone who wants to read it gets a full story. It's a tricky balance but I'm very proud of how we handled it here. 5. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background? What other books have you worked on? I'm a comic writer, born and raised in New York City. Before I wrote comics I used to tour with bands, run a record label, work in a comic shop, and all sorts of other odd jobs. Thankfully I wrote a book called We Can Never Go Home a few years ago and it got a lot of attention. From there it's been a whirlwind. I've written another indie book called 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, a bunch of Archie comics, 1 DC comic, co-written an LP with a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, and I've spent most of the last 2 years writing a ton of stuff for Marvel including Uncanny X-Men, The Punisher, New Mutants, Astonishing X-Men, Multiple Man, Kingpin, Rocket Raccoon, Secret Warriors, and Tales Of Suspense featuring Hawkeye! I currently write Annihilation Scourge, Hawkeye Freefall, and a bunch of stuff I can't talk about.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Eberron

The 5th edition version  of Eberron arrived today. The setting has proved popular enough to appear in 3.5, 4th and now 5th edition. Funny thing though, I cannot recall of anyone locally running an Eberron campaign. Post in the comments if you have and let us know what you think of the setting.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Facebook for the Holidays


Facebook has become the go-to advertising medium for most people in the hobby game (and comic) industry, much to the dismay of my local newspaper publisher. We were discussing advertising earlier this week, well, he wanted to convince me to buy advertising since he reaches 35,000 people daily but didn’t have a very good answer when I asked him if he could get my message out to just those that were My Little Pony fans or Ticket to Ride players.  Unfortunately, despite the growth in boardgaming,  the industry is still a niche market, only doing a fraction of the sales that video games or movies do, meaning that Facebook, and other social media, with their capabilities to target specific niche market segments more so than traditional print media, prove very valuable to stores operating in the industry. That is why I found this holiday advertising guide sent out by Facebook interesting, especially some of the statistics the company provides (All of the statistics quoted come from the guide).  Like many “ebooks” , it has about 1-2 sentences in large type per page so you can read it in just a few minutes.

Granted that Facebook conducted the research but the statistic saying that 49% of surveyed shoppers indicate that Facebook will prove influential in their holiday buying give a pretty good indication that, if you want to reach holiday shoppers, you need to plan on having some form of Facebook presence. Even if most of your holiday sales come in the form of gift cards or certificates, a store needs to have top of mind awareness in the mind of the customer and making sure your customers see you on Facebook is one was to achieve that.

I don’t know if it is a case of chicken and the egg but Facebook’s research says that 47% of  consumers start thinking about holiday shopping prior to Halloween. I am not certain if we do that because of the avalanche of Christmas merchandise  and d├ęcor we start seeing in September, or if retailers put out the holiday stuff in September because customers already start thinking about it, but seeing Christmas merchandise alongside black cats and Halloween candy is a fact of shopping today. Incidentally, Facebook also says that time spent by users on the website starts increasing in the early part of October, peaking at New Year’s Eve, then slowly decreasing over the first half of the year.
We have two huge shopping days coming up in November. All US retailers are familiar with Black Friday, which, while it does not generate quite the massive sales it did in the past, still moves a huge chunk of merchandise. However, few US retailers participate in Singles Day, the largest shopping day of the year bar none. Primarily “celebrated” in China, Chinese shoppers will spend about 5 times as much on Singles Day (Nov. 11) as US shoppers spend on Black Friday. Eventually, some US retailers will figure out how to get a chunk of that.

Moving on to December, 62% of your customers will make their purchases between Dec. 1 and 24 with 25% making their purchases between Dec. 11 and 20. As Dec. 25th gets closer, more customers turn to brick and mortar stores to make sure they get the items they want on time. Incidentally 65% will continue with holiday shopping during the period between Dec. 26th and Jan 1 especially as they start using those gift cards they received for Christmas and 46% will still be in the mood for holiday shopping through much of January. So you’ve still got time to get your holiday ducks (turkeys?) in a row.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Yes, People Still Play Boardgames


I was listening to NPR’s Here and Now program and caught this story on the resurgence of analog games, as the reporter refers to them. Every so often, a  reporter in the media  in need of a human interest story will catch onto the fact that millions of people still play boardgames regularly and will write a story announcing that there are games beyond Monopoly and Clue and that people actually still “gasp” play boardgames as if it was something that millions of people don’t already know. As the Here and Now program points out, boardgames are the largest funded category on Kickstarter, dwarfing their digital brethren in terms of amounts pledged. According to ICV2,  boardgame sales have increased year to year for the past 8 years, sold over $1.2 billion (eclipsing the number of comic sold) in 2015 and fueled a 50% year to year increase in Dungeons & Dragons sales at WOTC/Hasbro. Boardgames are big and yet it still seems as if daily, game store owners report customers walking into their store, looking at all the stock and asking “So where are your games?” Why? Here are a couple of reasons:

1.       Size of digital gaming market—Remember that I just mentioned that boardgame sales topped $1.2 billion in 2015. That’s a pretty impressive figure, except when you compare it to the digital gaming market which is projected to top $100 billion in sales this year. Compare $1.2 billion to $100+ billion and you can see that boardgame sales are a drop in the bucket compared to the sales of their digital brethren. When you have numbers like that, it is  no wonder the average customer thinks of digital games first when they go into a “game store”.

2.       Confirmatory bias—This is the human tendency to judge everything in terms of its relationship to ourselves and to seek and be more comfortable with information that confirms our beliefs. Since I run a game store, I deal with what the reporter in the Here and Now story referred to as “analog games” on a regular basis. Most of my regular customers play analog or table top games and we primarily sell tabletop games. Due to our extensive familiarity with them, we naturally thing of table top games when we think of games, forgetting that the average consumer has more likely played a digital game last and are far more familiar with those games than they are the ones that we sell.

3.       The Wal-Mart Effect.  Customers are far more likely to have shopped in a Wal-mart, Target or Walgreen’s than they are to have shopped in one of our tabletop game stores and are therefore much more likely to have seen the games for sale there and to view Monopoly, Sorry and Clue as the standard of a boardgame. Confirmatory bias works both ways. When a customer spends all of their shopping time in a mass market store, they are going to get exposed to mass market games and not have any reason to consider the huge variety of other games out there, either at your FLGS or available through Kickstarter.

Maybe, instead of shaking my head at the next of these stories about discovering that people play boardgames, I need  to figure out better ways of getting the word out to the huge numbers of people that do not play “our” boardgames.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Store Website Down

We are having problems with the store website so it is offline for the immediate future. You can still get ahold of us through Facebook and our Google page.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Three Great Things About WizKids


For those of you not familiar with them, and most people reading this column are, WizKids is the premier collectable miniatures and dice game company (though I could argue not the first as anyone who dealt with Games Workshop during the 1990s could attest, with the company’s tendency to include multiple poses of the same figure in a sleeve of them and customers trying to get that one particular figure with a Multi-melta or Assault Cannon for their army. A figure holding a Bolter just wouldn’t work.), at one time after the release of DiceMasters producing more dice than any other company in the world.

Anyhow, three things that WizKids does that I really like:

1.        Organized Play website—WizKids has really ramped up their OP program over the past couple of years and has made massive improvements to the website the company uses to track tournament results. The company has even embraced the “gamification” trend of the past few years, awarding badges to players and tournament organizers for “unlocking” achievements in OP. Behavioral research indicates that this actually works in terms of encouraging more people to participate in events in the hope of adding more badges to their collection, much as the Scouts have done for decades
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2.       Summer Campaigns—For the last few years, WizKids has run a massively supported summer Organized Play campaign complete with big cool prizes and limited edition boosters to draw customers into stores. In order to get access to these limited boosters, the customer has to come to the store and play in the event. A few retailers have violated the spirit and letter of the program and WizKids, from what I understand, has been pretty diligent in tracking the violators down and reprimanding or even sanctioning them from participating in further programs.

3.       Release Day Tape—The announcement of this was the thing I referenced earlier that made me happy. As I have noted in other columns, violation of street date, especially with high volume collectible items, is a bane of the retail end of the industry. Putting a notice on the packing tape of each box that the item has a release date and to go to the WizKids website to check it before putting the product inside out for sale will certainly help by giving people one less reason to claim they were unaware of the release date.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Learn to Play Magic and Pokemon

We are wanting to get more people playing Magic and Pokemon so we have learn to play sessions for both games. Learn to Play Pokemon is after school on Friday from 4 p.m .to 5 p.m. If you have played the online game and want to learn to play the card game, come by the store and we will teach you how to play and you can leave with a special card.

Learn to Play Magic is scheduled for Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. We will walk you through the basics of Magic and you will leave with a Magic beginners deck and a limited edition card.