Monday, January 17, 2022

Warhammer 40K League

 If there is enough interest, we will start up a Feb Warhammer 40,000 league with play on Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. No charge and no set point value. Players decide the potin value when they schedule a game. you receive 1 point for playing and 1 point if you win. Winner will see their name go up on the Hall of Heroes Plaque.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Used Boardgames

 We are overstocked on used boardgames at the moment so will hold off on buying large stacks of them for the next couple of weeks, uncil our quantities get to a slightly lower level. We will still be glad to purchase 1 or 2 at a time but not 10. Thanks.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

D&D Price

 Considering changing the charge for playing in one of the store D&D games from the purchase of a $5 Iron rations card to showing the DM a receipt for a $5 purchase that day for a seat at the table. Will run it by our DMs and see what they think.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Bits n' Mortar

 

1)      .  Bits ‘n Mortar doesn’t get nearly enough publicity as it ought but this consortium of small RPG publishers still has their program in place, allowing registered brick and mortar retailers to give a PDF of their products to customers when said customer purchases a hard copy of the RPG.  We have customers who purchase Crucible 7 and Arc Dream RPG products specifically from us on a regular basis specifically because we participate in this program.If you Purchase a small press RPG from us, ask if it falls under the Bits n' Martar program as you could get a free PDF of the book if it does.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Hobby Games

 

I am still not thrilled with using the term “hobby game” as a descriptor for the type of games most boardgame stores stock but it seems the best one we currently have. About twenty years ago, the accepted term was Eurogame or Euro-style game, but as more American publishing houses released games more reliant on strategy than the luck of a dice roll, that term fell out of favor (We did have a customer last year trading in some boardgames who did refer to his collection of “Eurostyle” and “Ameritrash” games). ICV2 defines “hobby games” as those games produced for the “gamer” market and primarily, although not solely, sold through tabletop game stores.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

A Brief History of Kickstarter

 Since it looks as if our back copies or Return to Dark Tower are shipping, I thought a look at the history of Kickstarter was in order:

Kickstarter launched in 2009 out of frustration co-founder Perry Chen faced when he ran into difficulties promoting a concert and turned to the Internet for funding.  Finding lots of interest among internet users wanting to support creative types, Kickstarter started as a way for those interested in art and music to provide support to the artists creating it.  Kickstarter supports the company by taking 5% of the proceeds of projects that successfully fund.  For those of you that don’t like Amazon, grit your teeth when you fund a Kickstarter project as Kickstarter uses Amazon to process pledge payments, with Amazon taking another 3 to 5% of the contributions for the handling.  Since launching, Kickstarter has had about 61,000 projects posted to the site and processed over 215 million dollars in pledges   but didn’t hit its first million dollar funding until this past February, when a proposed solid aluminum iPod dock , originally looking for $75,000, raised $1.4 million.  The most successful Kickstarter campaign so far has been for  the Pebble, a watch with programmable faces.   Pebble Technologies originally sought $100,000 to produce 1,000 of the watches and would up collected about $10.3 million, selling about 85,000 watches, enabling the company to add 6 people to its staff within two weeks, tripling the company’s size.

The attention garnered by successful Kickstarter projects such as these, and the Reaper and Giant In the Playground projects, obscures  the fact that posting a project to Kickstarter is nowise a guarantee of success.  In fact, according to Kickstarter, roughly 9% of all projects posted to the site receive zero pledges.  Less than 35% of game projects and 32% of publishing projects successfully fund (the most successful category:  theater.  Over 60% of theater projects launched on the site have successfully hit their funding levels).  Very few Kickstarter projects reach levels that attract the attention of the media, with only seven so far breaking the $1 million mark, as far as I can find.  The most successful Kickstarter projects fall into two categories, 1) they come from companies that already have a base of support for the project and are able to drive support for the project by pushing it relentlessly to that fan base or 2) technology blogs or other media sources find about the project, view it as novel or innovative, and start talking about it, creating awareness of it among potential funders.

There is also the problem of, what happens if a project funds but never gets produced.  In the early days of Kickstarter,  projects were typically musicians seeking funding from fans so they could produce another album.  Today,  aKickstarter project is much more likely a developer  seeking funding by preselling a product before producing it.   According to the terms of service on Kickstarter, if this happens , the creator is supposed to refund all money fund to the backers but the company provides no method for doing so on the website.  Since  Kickstarter never has the funds for a project, operating solely as a facilitator between creator and funder,  the company’s position is that it does not  give refunds and all negotiations must take place between creator and backer. 

According to a recent story on NPR (http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/09/03/160505449/when-a-kickstarter-campaign-fails-does-anyone-get-their-money-back), the designer of PopSockets, an iPod case and cord designed not to tangle while dancing, raised about $18,600 from 520 backers, last February.  Now, the money is gone, spent on legal and manufacturing fees, with no PopSockets to show for it, none likely to appear, and a host of unhappy backers.    Creator David Barnett eventually refunded about $1300 to 40 of them, which only made the 480 unpaid backers even unhappier.

The problem, really, is that Kickstarter is not set up to police itself, similar to eBay in its early days.  The side only does cursory investigation of projects before allowing them to post and, while the terms of use do constitute a legal requirement for the creator to produce or refund, there is no mechanism on the site for enforcement.  All legal disputes are between creator and backer and, given the size of many pledges, backers likely don’t feel it worthwhile to involve the law.

For the moment, Kickstarter is the premier source for crowdfunded projects.  However, unless the company develops better mechanisms for policing itself, it likely will lose that position to a similar website that provides stronger protections for funders.


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Are the 1990s Back

 

With the announcement of the introduction of card parallels in Magic sets, I do wonder if anyone overseeing the Magic line at Hasbro/ WOTC remembers the 1990s? https://icv2.com/articles/news/view/49954/wotc-adds-card-parallels-magic-the-gathering During that decade, multiple covers, plastic crystals and lenticular covers paved the way for the comic crash of the late 1990s as The Hollywood Reporter points out Happily those days have not returned, though both Dynamite and Valiant are making valiant efforts to bring them back. Similarly as Slate points out, during the same period, sports cards evolved from a humble hobby pursued primarily by boys to something touted by no less than the Wall Street Journal as an “inflation hedge”. Companies such as Upper Deck and DonRuss introduced autograph cards, swatch cards and other chase cards further driving speculation boom, leading to the eventual collapse of the market and cards that sold for hundreds of dollars now worth a fraction of that.

Similarly, I fear that WOTC/Hasbro has glommed onto the “ collectible” aspect of the collectable card game aspect while downplaying the “game” aspect of it. The introduction of Set Boosters and Collector Boosters do little to enhance gameplay, but instead target the collector market and, while collecting has always been part and parcel of the Magic universe, it was subsidiary to gameplay:  “How will this card improve my deck?” While early sets of Magic did, on occasion, include multiple tyles of the same card, the various season illustrations on Urza’s Tower for example, they were few and far between, with most players happy to have 4 to put into their deck, without worrying about getting all the variants. From what I can tell, WOTC’s current marketing plan, with the introduction of Alchemy  focuses on moving actual play online, as I have had a number of customers comment, while promoting the collectible aspect of the game with a number of variants of each card available with each release. Set boosters and Collector boosters are specifically designed for this market, which, according to WOTC is large enough to drive demand for the two additional varieties of card sets within the past two years to what is essentially a segment of the Magic target market. Add in, by my count, 45 Secret Lair releases in the past year and the Magic market has seen a lot of product flooding into the market within a short period of time.

Unlike the sports cards and comic book boom and bust of the 1990s, most of the revenues from the Magic boom funnel into one company so flooding the market with Magic product primarily  benefits WOTC/Hasbro. Given Hasbro’s current market capitalization of $13.6 billion, according to CNN Business, any implosion of the  Magic market would have serious repercussions to the company, especially since much of its current growth has come from the Wizards division, but would not drive the company into bankruptcy, as were a number of 1990’s era sports card and comic publishers after the implosion of their respective markets. Maybe WOTC has done the analysis as to how much Magic product the market can absorb and has determined the company can safely ramp up its number of releases without oversaturating the market. I hope so.