Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween at Castle Perilous

Here's a schedule of events for Thursday, October 31, otherwise known as Halloween, (or All Hallow's Eve):

All Day:  Come in, enjoy some free mulled cider, and get a free comic off the Free Comic Book display, 2 comics if you are a preferred customer, 1 more for each stamp you earn on your Castle Card

4 p.m.   Halloween HeroClix 
Trick or Treat Golden Age 600 pt
Before a character is given any non free action you must roll a d6. On a 1-3 you have been tricked and modify -1 to all combat values this turn. On a 4-6 you have received a treat and modify all combat values by +1 this turn.

5 p .m.  Warhammer 40,000

5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Trick or Treating   Candy and comics for all who come in costume. Free mulled cider and hot dogs, while quantities last.

8 p.m.   Costume Contest.  Prizes for Cutest, Most Original, Most Elaborate, Viewers' Choice.

8:30  p.m.  Raffle prize drawing.  Must be present to win or arrange for someone to collect for you.  Over $1000 worth of prizes including a booster box of Magic 2014 and boosters of HeroClix Fear Itself.  Get one ticket for coming in (as long as you are in good standing with the store), one if you are a preferred customer, one if you are in costume,  one for each 5 canned food items brought in (no tomato sauce or ramen)  and one for each stamp you earn on your Castle Card.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Boardgame Trend Continues

One of the runaway hits from last GenCon, Gale Force 9’s Firefly boardgame, finally made it into distribution. Firefly, which sold hundreds of copies within tens of minutes to eager customers has done quite well since it hit store shelves and represents trend number one:  a company gets started in another area of the gaming industry moves into boardgames.

Gale Force 9 got its start producing a wide assortment of products to use in sculpting and modifying miniatures.  Until GF9 came onto the scene, miniatures games were whatever tools they could find in hardware stores or the tools available from either The Armory or Games Workshop .  Unfortunately, Alliance Distribution, which inherited the Armory line when Chessex Distribution and The Armory merged, does little to promote the line and Games Workshop sets a premium price point on its products.  Into the void between the two came Gale Force 9, offering a wide selection of basing materials and tools, with high quality display materials and decent promotion.  As time went on, the company developed serious in-stock problems but that’s not germane to the discussion.  What’s important is that a miniature accessory company has decided to enter the boardgame industry following several others that started off in other parts of the industry, then moved into boradgame development.

AEG got its start with role-playing but it is probably better known for the Legends of the Five Rings TCG.  However, boardgames have accounted for most of the company’s recent major releases. Same thing with Fantasy Flight, which has almost abandoned RPGs.  A few years have elapsed as well since Steve Jackson Games has released a print RPG, closing instead to Munchkinize the world, while Privateer, Paizo and Cryptozoic have all released entries in the deckbuilding genre., significantly removed from the areas in which they got their start. While Paizo and Privateer still remain strong in their original fields, Cryptozoic has completely abandoned its TCG base to move into traditional and deckbuilding cardgames.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What Do Retailers Do?

I was in a discussion the other day and the question came up:  What do retailers do?  the answer is three main things.

The first service we provide:  assorting.   A retailer doing their job provides an assortment of products, whether it be PDFs from Drive Thru RPG, cards from Troll and Toad or Star City, assorted physical RPGs and board games from your local FLGS (that’s Friendly Local Game Store) or even a shopping cart full of shampoo, toothpaste, laundry detergent  and taco sauce from Wal-mart or Safeway, the customer wants to combine as many of their purchases into as few a number of trips as possible.  Long gone are the days of shopping lists and trips to several different stores to fill them.  If I want to buy groceries, garden supplies or games, the customer wants to visit as few locations as possible in order to get what they want.  The larger assortment a store offers, the more likely the customer will stop there and purchase as much as they can from there list.    If you want to buy Magic cards, which store will more likely get your money, the one that stocks Standard legal boosters and cards but little earlier or the one that stocks boosters three blocks back and single cards to match.  That’s one of the advantages online retailers have over brick and mortar, an almost infinite amount of shelf space.  Which leads us to the second service retailers provide:

Transporting.   If you want a banana, as I point out to my students regularly, you do not travel all the way to Central America to get one.  Instead, you drive to your local supermarket and buy a hand of them.  Same thing with Magic Cards, or Ticket to Ride or Castles and Crusades.  A customer does not want to drive to China, or Europe or Arkansas to get a copy; they want to go to an online store to order it and have it delivered or go to their FLGS and pick it up there for even faster gratification. Retailers bring the product conveniently to consumers.

The third main thing retailers do:  break bulk. Distributors do this regularly, even moreso than retailers.    For most manufacturers, it is most convenient to ship products in case packs.  Konami does not ship out single booster packs of Yu-Gi-Oh!,  the shipping cost eats up all the profit.   They ship in cases of booster displays to distributors or retailers, who then break the case down to sell it by the display (at distribution) or the individual pack, at retail. The consumer has no desire to purchase a case of Settlers of Catan or Rogue Trader, they want one copy,  just as a customer at Target wants one box of Tide detergent or Huggies, not a case of 6 boxes.  Retailers and distributors buy in larger quantities so the consumer can buy the quantities they want.

That’s it.  The retailer’s basic job boils down to three functions:  have the product the customer wants when they want it, where they want to buy it, in the quantities they want to buy.  Everything else the retailer does facilitates these three activities.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Battle of the Brands

Take a look at the top dozen Kickstarter projects funded inthe past year.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  All of then are either reboots, sequels or rest upon the designer’s name to boost interest in the project.  Tehre’s even an online version of Numenera in there.  The top funded project in the gaming category so far, raising $8.5 million,  OUYA, a video game console,  doesn’t even mention the designer’s name in the first paragraph.  Instead it tells you this product is designed by the creator of Jambox.  Now I don’t play video games, so I have no idea what Jambox is but lots of other people do, so when they see that its designer planned to come out with a video game console, they are all over it, to the tune of $8.5 million in funding., over 7 times the original goal.

Closer to home, WOTC has a new Commander set of decks coming out in November.  We already have people wanting to pre-order them, even before they know what comes in them?  Why? They know the quality of past Commander decks and the quality of recent magic release.  Sure WOTC can come a cropper (Anyone remember Saviors of Kamigawa, C-23 or the X-men TCG?) but WOTC succeeds so often with its Magic products that distributors, stores and consumers, eagerly line up for the next release and will at least give Kaijudo a try.

Games Workshop has the same level of brand resonance with its product lines. When the new Space Marines codex came out at $58 a pop, I expected to sell maybe 4 in the first week or so. We went through a dozen in the first two weeks, with customers buying them without even looking through them. Again, why?  The strength of the Games Workshop/Warhammer 40,000 brand.  Based on past experience, they know what to expect.    The brand has power.