Monday, December 29, 2014

Three of the Top Events of 2014

Since this is the time of year to look back and to make lists, I came up with my 5 top events in the gaming industry for 2014. Here are three of them. I will post the final 2 on Wednesday:

Rise of the Munchkin License—Games licensing properties from other areas of pop culture is nothing new. Avalon Hill did it with Starship Troopers back in 1976 and TSR produced the Marvel Super Heroes RPG in 1984. Various companies have produced other licensed products with varying degrees of success over the decades (WEG’s Necroscope comes to mind as on the lower end of success, the Buffy RPG from Eden Studios on the higher), but those licenses have all come from outside the gaming industry. This year, we saw Steve Jackson Games Munchkin licensed for not one but two different games and a comic coming out in 2015.

Shortages of Hot Products—As mentioned in earlier posts, hot products such as DiceMasters and the Adventure Time Card Game proved incredibly hard to restock quickly after their initial release. It took months for Alliance (the only source for either to the hobby game industry) to get them back in stock.  I have no idea how much we lost in sales or potential players as a result of the ongoing shortage. At least both products did get back into distribution prior to the holiday selling season. A full quarter has passed since we received a restock of the base ships for FFG’s X-Wing Miniatures game with none of the most popular ships (Millennium Falcon, anyone?) available.

Start of TableTop Season 3—Though most stores are not seeing the “Wheaton Effect” as strongly as they did during Season 1 of TableTop, there is no denying the ongoing popularity of the series, given that Wheaton & Co. successfully raised over $1.4 million from fans wanting to see a third season of the webseries. It appears that the new season of TableTop still helps drive sales as Tokaido, the first game played, has proven almost impossible to find in distribution since the show aired.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Final Two Events

As promised Monday, here are my final top 2 events in the gaming field for 2014. Have something you think tops them. Post it in comments;

Shaving of Discounts—Also as mentioned in an earlier post, manufacturers of popular products have reduced the discount they offer to distribution and retailers while holding the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) firm. Companies such as Days of Wonder, WizKids and Games Workshop have given short discounts for years now, though GW does raise prices which partially compensates for the lower discount.  However, the announcements by FFG that its Imperial Assault game will sell through distribution at a 42-43% discount and WOTC that Magic product will start selling at a 2% slimmer discount with no increase in MSRP makes it that much harder for distribution and retailers to do their jobs.

Launch of 5th Edition D&D—The staggered release of 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons after what seems like a decade of playtesting, has revitalized the RPG segment of the market or sucked all the air out of it, depending on your point of view. Stores reported selling 60 copies of the Players Handbook within 24 hours and still see steady sales of it, the Starter Set, Monster Manual and DMG months later. Much like with 3rd and 4th Edition D&D, people who had quite RPGs or wanted to introduce their kids to the hobby, came back into the store to snag a copy.  To someone outside the hobby game field, RPG still means Dungeons & Dragons.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Trading Card Games: The Perfect Gift

Speaking of the desire of the gift-giver to give the gift-givee something they don’t already have, this is when Yu Gi Oh, Pokemon, HeroClix, Magic, Cardfight Vanguard and any other collectable game is the perfect gift for those people who do not want to give someone  a duplicate product.  Fairly regularly, I have a customer come in, usually a parent or friend looking for a birthday or other present who doesn’t really know what to get them. That is when I put on my salesman’s hat and do a little prospecting to find out why they came in here to look for the present rather than one of those stores out at the mall.  

 Generally, if they come in here, they may have little to no interest in the game we sell but they have heard from the person they want to buy for that they can get the game here and what they want, much like the Christmas buyer, is to get them something they do not already have.  Collectable or trading games are made for this very situation but they generally require a bit of explanation, since the typical gift buying customer is not familiar with the concept of a collectable game. This is something that is very valuable for game stores to remember.

The gift buying visitor to a store is most familiar with “traditional” board game.  They know chess, checkers, Monopoly, Clue, Life, Sorry, etc.  Thanks to mention in the mass media as a favorite game among millennials, they likely know Cards Against Humanity and Settlers of Catan as well. However, the concept of a game that does not have fixed components is alien to anyone who has played any  traditional boardgame. 

This is when you have to explain the concept of the trading card (or miniature) game, how it differs from traditional games and why it makes a great gift since booster packs by their very nature differ one from another. The hardest thing, I have found, is to get the customer to understand that, although the packs all differ, every pack of Pokemon or Magic or DiceMasters works with every other pack. Once I make that clear, I can easily sell 5-10 packs with the assurance that getting so many packs will delight the recipient.  I always have to remember that the collectable concept, so familiar to game stores is still unfamiliar to hundreds of thousands of people.

Monday, December 22, 2014

New Releases for Christmas and Why I Like 'em

Sitting here with a cuppa mulled cider and a platter of Christmas cookies, I must admit, it is rather nice to see the game companies time new releases to hit the shelf just before the Christmas holidays (and right during Hanukkah). No sarcasm meant. This is the time of year when people open their wallets (and  credit cards) for more expensive items and in the past week we saw the arrival of Star Wars Imperial Assault from Fantasy Flight Games, the Borg Cube for Star Trek Attack Wing, Hostile Intent and Hidden Agenda for The Resistance, Munchkin Legends from our buddies at Steve Jackson Games and probably one or six I am forgetting.

 The great thing about having these hit the shelf now is that I have a great answer to “I want to get them something they don’t already have”. By having these come in just before Christmas, I have something to point to the customer that I can say “I can almost guarantee they don’t have this, since it just came in a couple of days ago.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Party

We will have our annual Christmas party on Sunday Dec 22 with hot cider and cookies.  We will draw for over $1000 worth of prizes at 5:30 with the last tickets in at 5:45.  You must be present to win or arrange for someone to pick up your prize. How do you get tickets?  Glad you asked:

1.  Come in and you get one ticket
2. Get one if you have a Preferred Customer Card.
3. Get one if you wear a Christmas sweater.
4. Get one if you wear a Santa hat.
5. Get one for each 5 cans of usable food you bring in. No tomato sauce or Ramen.
6. Get one for each household cleaning item you bring in. Don't be cheap, it's for charity.
7. Get one for each personal hygiene item you bring in. No trial size.
8. Get one for each stamp you earn on your Castle Card on the 22.
9. Get one if you signed up as coming on the event's Facebook Page.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fantasy Flight Games Releases

For you FFG fans, here is the schedule of releases for December and January

New Releases:

WHK03 Warhammer 40,000 Conquest LCG: The Scourge
GOT108 A Game of Thrones LCG: Secrets & Schemes
SWC22 Star Wars LCG: Between the Shadows
SWI02 Star Wars Imperial Assault: Dice Pack
ADN22 Android Netrunner LCG: Order and Chaos
XC01 XCOM: The Board Game


BSG01 Battlestar Galactica
CI01 Civilization
DH20 Dark Heresy 2nd Edition RPG: Game Master’s Toolkit
MEC08 Lord of the Rings LCG: Khazad-Dum
DJ27 Descent 2nd Edition: Crown of Destiny
KN13 Ingenious

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Busiest Shopping Days of the Year

So, if you are a customer wanting to know when to avoid the crowds, or a store owner needing to plan staffing (hopefully you have already done that), here, in order are the busiest shopping days of 2014;

Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving)
December 20th the Saturday before Christmas
December 13th
December 6th (the3rd Saturday before Christmas)
December 26th  (Boxing Day in Britain)
December 21st  (the Sunday before Christmas)
November 28th Small Business Saturday
December 19th  (the Friday before Christmas)
December 14th  (two Sundays before Christmas)
December 11th  (two Fridays before Christmas)

Incidentally, if you plan on ordering anything, best to get those orders in soon. The average order last year took about nine days to arrive, according to Direct Marking Magazine, meaning any orders put in after about the 15 of December  have a better than even chance of not arriving by Christmas Even (unless, of course, you wish to spend more for speedy delivery). If you look for items much after that date, your Friendly Local Game Store will be your best bet for making sure you get that particular present.