Saturday, February 22, 2014

Flooping the Pig

The Adventure Time Card Game hit the shelves nationwide on Friday and, at least at our stock, sold out by mid-afternoon. We received our full order but I heard tales of stores getting allocated significantly. We did not order too heavily on it because, as is typical unfortunately, none of our customers asked about the game until the Tuesday before release.  After the first flurry of interest, sales in the Adventure Time comic had dropped to almost zero and, while the Adventure Time trade paperbacks sold, they didn’t turn at Walking Dead levels, but closer to that of Empowered, decent sales but nothing out of the ordinary.  Ergo, our pre-orders reflected the comparative lack of interest our customer base had shown in all things Adventure Time.  I figured six of each deck would last us for quite some time.  Boy, was I wrong.

So, we sent our order off to alliance and posted on Facebook and Twitter that the decks had released and would hit the shelves Friday.  Wham.  Within 2 hours we had a dozen posts asking about it and half a dozen or more calls.  On Friday, as mentioned above, our entire stock had sold out by mid-afternoon with one customer driving over an hour to pick up a copy. Happily for him, he called in advance and we set one back for him. Those who did not wound up out of luck until our restock comes in.

Imagine how we could have sold this given better communication and tools.  Maybe we received  emails mentioning it but none by themselves to make the product stand out.  Why not a promotional poster sent out weeks ahead of the release date?  Maybe a sign-up sheet sent as a PDF? Though I am not a huge fan of Games Workshop’s promotional strategies, they do send out sign up forms for what they consider major new releases. As long as I am dreaming, how about a demo copy of the game sent out a week or two or even three before the release to gauge interest? Having this sort of information helps drive pre-orders.  Pre-orders help the store, help the distributor, help the publisher, heck, they even help the customer by giving us an indication of how much interest there is in the product.  More interest means more pre-orders which means must less likelihood of an out of stock which means the customer is more likely to find the game on the store shelf.

Last year, Cryptozoic discussed some really impressive plans they had for promoting their product lines, with launch events for new releases and game days to continue to generate interest in their catalog titles, something Fantasy Flight Games already does to great effect for their LCG lines.  However, aside from making demo copies of their games available through Alliance Distribution at reduced cost and a long delayed game day promotion for the DC Heroes Deck Building Game, the cards for which just showed up a week or so ago, we haven’t seen anything in store. 
Cryptozoic has some great licenses, and some great games using those licenses.  Here’s hoping they get the promotional campaigns up and running to match those licenses as I really want to floop the pig with their games for a long time to come.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

HeroClix Release Date Moved--Sigh

In mildly annoying news, and once again indicating communications problems between somebody and retailers, the release date for the Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes set for Heroclix got pushed back from February 12th to February 26th.  I did not learn this until I called my Alliance sales rep to see about adding some items to the shipment and found the date had changed.  A date shift like this should have gone out to every Alliance account ahead of time, especially since some of us do take pre-orders and run special events tied to new WizKids releases, even though the company doesn’t support them., meaning we had three days’ notice to contact players letting them know we had to push the booster tournament back two weeks.  A lot of contacting of people in a short period of time.

This is the 2nd time WizKids has missed a street date in the past 6 month.  It's not so bad with boardgames or RPGs, because players don't as avidly await those as they do collectible games.  Imagine the hue and cry if Konami, or even worse, WOTC misses a release date.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

24th Anniversary Party

We opened 24 four years ago this month, on Valentines Day to be exact.  however, since most people have other things occupying their attention on St. Valentine's Day, we hold the celebration on Sunday. This coming Sunday, in fact. We will have snacks all day , as well as a cake.  We will have drawings for over $1000 worth of prizes at 5p.m. but you must be present to win or make arrangements to have someone collect your prize.  You can get a ticket by coming in and asking for one and can get addtional tickets through the following methods:

-sign up as coming on our Facebook event
-have a preferred customer card
-come in costume
-bring in 5 cans of food (one for each 5)
-get a stamp on your Castle Card (one for each stamp)

In addition, we will be giving away door prizes every 24 minutes. Again you must be here to win.

We also have the following events going on:

noon-5  Southern Illinois Jedi Order (Star Wars costuming group)

Noon-5  Southern Illinois Roller Girls (Roller Derby, tenetative)

12:30  Magic Commander Tournament  $6 entry

1-2   Bruce Cline of the Little Egypt Ghost Society will sign copies of his books, History, Mysteries and Hauntings of Southern Illinois, Volumes 1, 2 and & 3.

1 p.m.  Dungeons & Dragons Game

1 p.m. Star Wars Living Card Game

2-3  Munchkin game hosted by MID Christa Bourbeau

3-5  Music by Cody Foltz and Stephon Baker II

5 p.m.  Drawing.  Must be present to win or make arrangements for someone to pick up your winnings.

Magic Sales Up

According to the fourth quarter earnings call from Hasbro, Magic sales for 2013 were up 20% over 2012 and WOTC sales had climbed by 23%.  Hasbro profits overall were down about 15%, mainly due to big drops in sales of Beyblade and Marvel products. 

It appears the company is quite enthusiastic about the potential of a Magic movie (as well as a D&D movie if done right) to drive even more sales of Magic.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Night Eternal Confusion

A company underleveraging a brand came from Cryptozoic with its Night Eternal game. The company kindly sent us (and anyone else who asks) a demo copy of the game, which looks really nice, which has high quality components giving a nice heft to the box.  I almost passed on asking for a copy though, as I had no idea regarding the topic of the game nor gameplay. Also, nowhere in the email asking us to request a copy did it mention that Cryptozoic has licensed HBO’s True Blood series and based Night Eternal on a similar game played by characters on the show. That’s right.  Unless you follow the series, nothing in the email, nor for that matter on the front cover of the box, indicates any connection with True Blood.  Not until you flip the box over and read the BACK cover do you see the True Blood logo. For a company that uses licenses as heavily as Cryptozoic does (DC Heroes, Penny Arcade and Walking Dead come to mind) and plasters logos and illustrations from said licenses freely over all sides of the game box, to not put the True Blood logo front and center on the box mildly confuses me.  Maybe there is something in the licensing contract but as willing as Cryptozoic has shown itself to leverage its other licenses, I do not understand why the company had played down this one.  Much like Games Workshop re-launching White Dwarf, if you have a well-known brand, especially one that you did not grow yourself but to which you bought access, leverage it as much as you can.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

White Dwarf Thoughts

Games Workshop’s relaunch of its flagship title White Dwarf as a 32 page weekly, cutting the page count of the magazine to a third of its previous size.  I felt rather leery about this when Games Workshop announced it a month or so ago but we had a surprising number of people pre-order it, significantly more than pre-ordered the monthly version of the title so upped our order significantly, to the tune of over double our regular order for the monthly version. Most of those, alas, still sit on the shelf. After looking at the first issue I understand why. 

Granted, White Dwarf is a house organ and Games Workshop uses it to promote new releases and armies. The company wants to hype whatever it releases that month.  Fair enough.  I do have to wonder why, given all the products the company has and all the armies it could chose to release a new Codex for, why chooses to go with Warhammer Fantasy Battle and especially, why Dwarfs?

In the US, Warhammer 40,000 has outsold Warhammer Fantasy Battle for over a decade.  In fact, Warhammer 40,000 has vastly outsold Warhammer Fantasy Battle for over a decade.  Coupled with the fact that years have passed since I have heard anyone enthuse about building their WFB Dwarf army (actually I cannot remember anyone getting enthused about building their Dwarf army, but the mind does forget things). Therefore, given the potential market for Warhammer Fantasy Battle in the US, compared to that of Warhammer 40,000, why did the company choose to launch the radically redesigned weekly White Dwarf with Dwarfs?

Why not Tyrannids? Tyrannids are popular. People buy Tryannids. People bought lots of Tyrannids in January, when the highly anticipated new Tyrannid Codex came out. Why not release the new version of White Dwarf to tie in with the new Tyrannid figures, especially if you want to introduce them to a new version of the magazine? O else, hold off the launch of the magazine until a new 40K Codex launches to drive interest in and get people to sample it?  Games Workshop has some very strong brands it could leverage to launch the new White Dwarf, so why it chose Dwarfs is a puzzlement.