Saturday, December 29, 2012

Decline of Print RPG Sales

.  In the store, we have seen printed RPG sales fluctuating betwixt 5 and 10% of total store sales.   We have seen three overarching trends:
       Concentration of sales among the top selling RPG lines.  About three lines account for 80% of total RPG sales.  Everything else in the RPG category accounts for the other 20% (It’s the 80/20 rule in action again).
       Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Tower reference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new Pathfinder, Dark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore, Dungeons & Dragons, though how much of this is due to dissatisfaction with the current system and how much is due to not wanting to buy new books with D&D Next looming on the horizon, I can’t say.
      Huge decline in sales of used RPGs.  Pre-eBay and PDF, sales of used RPGs accounted for a huge amount of our RPG sales.  In fact, we didn’t even want to deal in used RPGs when we started out.  Our customers kept bringing in stuff they wanted to get rid of and, at the time, the markup and turnover on them was huge.  Today, markup is still huge, but turnover is a fraction of what it used to be as customers could satisfy the thrill of the hunt much more easily online and those who just wanted content could readily find PDF versions of almost everything out of print for free or very low cost, if they looked hard enough.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Things I Would Like for Christmas Part 1

TableTop to keep running new episodes through the Christmas season AND to get a second season pick-up form YouTube. With the exception of WOTC, TableTop has done more to promote games this year than anything else of which I can think and the series has promoted a much wider selection of games than any single company could or would (Cannot justifiably expect WOTC to launch a promotion for Gloom, after all).  I would have certainly liked to see TableTop run through the Christmas season, showing people how much fun it is to play Alhambra and Dragon’s Age.  It appears that TableTop has proven successful enough that NBC has announceddevelopment of “Hollywood Game Night”, a proposed series which, according to the press release  will feature “ A-list celebrities hanging out and living it up in a cocktail party atmosphere. In the series which has an eight-episode order, two contestants in each episode will be transported from their everyday lives into a once-in-a-lifetime night of fun and celebration as they step beyond the velvet rope and rub shoulders with the celebrity crowd”, though one has to wonder if said celebrities will play Monopoly or Munchkin.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Things I Liked this Year Part 1

TableTop has done a wonderful job of drawing attention to games that, at least here, have never reached top seller status and moved them into that category. Since TableTop started running episodes, sales figures for Tsuro, Elder Sign, Star Fluxx, Fiasco, and Last Night on Earth have quadrupled.  Prior to TableTop, in fact, we had not sold a copy of Tsuro or Elder Sign in over a year.  After the TableTop episode featuring each, we have sold out of both and had to restock several times.  Same thing with Fiasco.  I would have to say that TableTop was the most important promotional tool to hit the gaming industry this year.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shoplifter Demographics

Since we turned over info about a couple of shoplifters to the police and got word today they had been identified and picked up, I took a look at the demographics of the identified shoplifters we have dealt with over the years.

Looking at four identifiable characteristics:  age, sex, and race, they are all male and young, college and high-school aged.  No elementary school kids as far as we know.  The differentiation comes in terms of race.  We have had roughly an equal number of black and white shoplifters, however, what they steal differs markedly.

Black shoplifters tend to steal more generally.  We have lost Yu Gi Oh cards, movies, video games, RPG books and snacks to them.  White shoplifters are more focused.  Almost exclusively, they focus on CCGs, especially Yu Gi Oh and Naruto, back when it was more popular here.  Magic gets stolen some too, but not as obviously, or as often, as the Naruto and Yu Gi Oh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Flying Buffalo

Had the opportunity to exchange emails with Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo and asked him why that name for his gaming company:

In 1970, while serving in the US Army, I started running play by mail 
games of Nuclear Destruction for a fee for customers. I got an army 
buddy to write a computer program to run the game, and processed the 
turns at a Control Data computer center across the street from Fort 
Shafter. (In Honolulu). I had intended to start a stamp and coin shop 
when I got out of the army, but "Rick's Coins" is so boring, so I 
made up a silly name. I was going to have a "Buffalo Nickel" and a 
"Flying Eagle  (penny? dime? I forget) on the logo. When the folks at 
the computer center asked who they should send bills to, I started to 
tell them to send the bills to "Spec4 Loomis, USASTRATCOM, 
Communications Center South (etc)", but my programmer, Steve 
MacGregor, who knew about my coin shop plans said "No, tell them to 
send the bills to Flying Buffalo, care of Spec4 Loomis, 
USASTRATCOM...etc" On a whim, I did just that. And discovered that 
when I went to pick up my jobs at the computer center, when I asked 
for the "Flying Buffalo Job", they never said "I'll have to go see if 
it is ready" -- they always said "Oh, yes, it's right here". A 
memorable name is very handy! At any rate, by the time I got out of 
the Army in 1971, I had over 200 customers playing my games, so I 
dropped the stamp and coin shop idea and stayed full time on games ever since.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Gift Idea The Hobbit

Games Workshop released The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game.  Notice that they don’t call it a miniatures game as customers outside of a fairly narrow demographic would have no idea what a “miniatures game” is.  Strategy battle game, more people can relate to and understand.   Coming out just before the movie releases, with the rights to use the film’s logo on the box, guarantees people will at least take a look at it (We had customers inquiring about the copies we held back for the official Saturday release date).  The $125.00 price point does concern me though as that is fairly steep, even for a Games Workshop product, so we ordered comparatively lightly on the initial ship.  The holidays will tell if we chose rightly.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Gift Idea Memory Challenge

A nice looking game that we ordered heavily on is the Marvel Comics Memory Challenge from Usaopoly.  At $24.99, it is a good price point for a gift, suitable for age 8 and up, playable by one to eight players and has Marvel characters and the Marvel Comics logo on the cover, which catch the customer’s eye right away and are much more recognizable than, say, a Killer Bunny (though we do have people coming in looking for them as well.  A nice touch would have photos from the various Marvel movies on the cards, as those would appeal to a much broader class of customers than the Marvel Comics cover art.  Still, the game is an opportunity to introduce another generation to classic Marvel cover art.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Gift Idea Carcassonne

Another great stocking stuffer, this time from Rio Grande Games, is the set of 6 mini expansions for Carcassonne.  Of course, since each one has one tile from the Crop Circles Carcassonne expansion included, anyone buying one will probably want all six, so be certain to point that out to anyone you see just buying one.