Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MAPP Part 2

This week's ICV2 column looks at the difficulty of enforcing a MAPP (Minimum Advertised Pricing Policy).

Why Shop Local?

Just how does shopping at your Friendly Local Games Store (or any other local retailer) help your local community? Three reasons ( I can think of more but these are the three that come to mind immediately):

1.        Jobs.  Roughly 15 million people, or about 5% of the entire US population works in some aspect of retailing. Granted, it is not a glamorous job or an especially well paid job, though the average retail worker makes just over $18 an hour, according to statistics from the federal government, works just over 30 hours a week and earns about $2160 per month, before taxes, or about $26000 per year.  Certainly not great and that level of pay is a major factor in the high employee turnover rate in retail as last time I checked it hit right at about 300%, meaning the average retailer has to fill a position 3 times a year. Still, retail does provide jobs in the community, jobs that go away if people opt to shop elsewhere. After all, most people first employment is in some form of retailing.

2.       Sales Taxes—States and cities  with a sales tax rely heavily rely on them to fund services for the residents of that city and state. Most online retailers still do not collect sales tax (technically the consumer is supposed to remit sales tax to the state and city, your annual tax forms usually have a place for you to pay the state any sales tax not collected by a retailer. Needless to say, most people do not fill in that blank. The State of Illinois made a concentrated effort to collect unpaid sales taxes through the income tax form several years back and barely recouped enough to cover the expense of collecting it). Sales (and property) taxes help fund the services your city and state governments provide such as police, fire, street and sewers, services for the poor and homeless, etc. Fewer taxes mean fewer services provided.

3.       Your Money Stays Local—Shopping at a locally owned store means the money stays in the community, helping to generate those jobs I mentioned above and allowing other businesses to use those dollars to expand and enhance their offerings.  Making a purchase at a locally owned store puts approximately 70% of that money back into the community. Even making a purchase at a chain store puts about 45% of your expenditure back into your city. Buying online puts nothing back into your city.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Minimum Advertised Pricing

When you get a group of game retailers together, sooner or later the topic of MAP (minimum advertised pricing) and its enforcement, or lack thereof, will come up. For those not familiar with the term, Minimum Advertised Pricing is the term for a policy put in place by many, but not all, manufacturers stating that, in exchange for the manufacturer allowing the retailer to be an official reseller of the product, with any benefits and access to product that may entail, the retailer agrees to not advertise a discount of more than a certain amount on those products specified by the manufacturer. For example, both Mayfair Games and Games Workshop have MAP policies in place. If a store wants to have access to their products, either directly from the company or through approved distributors, the store must agree to become an authorized reseller and abide by company policies, one of which is a MAP of 20% for both companies. What this means, and it is much more important online than at a brick and mortar store since online retailers compete much more heavily on price, is that an authorized reseller of Mayfair Games or Games Workshop products cannot advertise their products for more than a 20% discount, i.e. an approved store selling Games Workshop products could not advertise a $50 boxed set for less than $40 or risk losing the ability to order products directly from Games Workshop at a larger discount than they get if buying GW product from other sources.

This is why MAP is often a sore point with many retailers since they see online retailers, especially, selling ostensibly MAP protected products at a greater discount than the MAP allows, apparently with no repercussions.  Someone will spot an online retailer selling a  MAP protected boardgame for less than the MAP, violating the policy, report it to the manufacturer and, as far as they can tell, see nothing happen. That is why this article in the May issue of Internet Retailer caught my eye ( I read Internet Retailer regularly, you can too and it is free at www.internetretailer.com).
Why do manufacturers even care about for how much stores sell their products? Price is part of the brand image.  Consider Nike. Nike routinely launches new shoes a prices between $100 to $200. If you have stores regularly selling a $100 shoe for $50, it becomes hard to convince consumers the shoe is worth over $100. Similarly, if a publisher prices a boardgame at $80 but has online stores selling it for $60, the customer starts seeing it as worth only $60, a 25% discount off the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and will expect similar releases priced at 25% off. Manufacturers need to make a profit too and aggressive discounting drives down the perceived value of their products.

An MAP can be tricky for a manufacturer to establish as If not written properly, it could be construed as restraint of trade and vertical price fixing, both of which are illegal in the US. If you get time, read over the Internet Retailer article I linked above and, in the future,I will discuss why MAP can be so hard to enforce.

Monday, May 22, 2017


This week's ICV2 column looks at the concept of Minimum Advertised Pricing

Friday, May 19, 2017

First Mover Advantage

Generally the first product to enter a market does better than competing products entering the market, even if the subsequent products are superior to the original one. This is what is called "first mover advantage" and can be seen in dominance of Dungeons and Dragons in the RPG field, despite far superior systems that have come out since the game's original release.

However, first mover advantage is not enough, as the story of Hydrox shows. A bad name will harm product image and allow followers into the market to displace the original product. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Making Memories

Good column by Ken Blanchard on making memories in a store. We were very pleased (and a bit overwhelmed) by the number of people who stopped into the store this past weekend during SIUC's graduation and talked about their times here at the store, even remembering the time when we were, for so many years, on the second floor of the Island. Thank you for coming in and reminding us why we do this. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Future of Retailing and Sales People

This week's ICV2 Column looks at the decline in retail sales people and the growth of retailtainment.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Origins' Awards Nominees

Yesterday, GAMA announced the 2017 Origins Awards' nominations:

he Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design (AAGAD) released the list of games nominated for 2017 Origins Awards. The Awards will be presented during the annual Orgins Awards Ceremony, held on Saturday, June 17.
This year the AAGAD will award honors in seven categories, which will be voted on by the members of the AAGAD. There will also be a “Fan Favorite” category, which will be voted on by attendees at the Origins Game Fair.
Best Board Game
·         Blood Rage by (designed by Eric M. Lang)
·         Clank! by Renegade Games (designed by Paul Dennen)
·         Cry Havoc by Portal Games (designed by Grant Rodiek, Michael Oracz, Michael Walczak)
·         Feast for Odin by Z Man Games/Asmodee (designed by Uwe Rosenberg)
·         Islebound by Red Raven Games (designed by Ryan Laukat)
·         Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight/Asmodee (designed by Christopher Burdett, Anders Finér, Henning Ludvigsen)
·         Scythe by Styonemaier Games (designed by Jamey Stegmaier)
·         Star Wars Rebellion by Fantasy Flight (designed by Corey Konieczka)
·         Terraforming Mars by (designed by Jacob Fryxelius)
·         World’s Fair 1893 by Renegade Game Studios and Foxtrot Games (designed by J. Alex Kevern)
Best Traditional Card Game
·         Dream Home by Asmodee (designed by Klemens Kalicki)
·         Fabled Fruit by Stronghold Games (designed by Friedemann Friese)
·         Kanagawa by IELLO (designed by Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevalier)
·         Koddama: The Tree Spirits by Action Phase Games (designed by Daniel Solis)
·         Lotus by Renegade Games (designed by Jordan and Mandy Goddard)
·         Mystic Vale by AEG (designed by John D. Clair)
·         Oh My Goods by Mayfair Games (designed by Alexander Pfister)
·         Ravensburger (designed by John D. Clair)
Best Collectible Games
·         Yu-Gi-Oh Breaker of Shadow Booster by Konami (designed by Konami Digital Entertainment)
·         Pokemon XY11 Steam Siege Booster by Pokemon USA (designed by The Pokemon Company)
·         Magic the Gathering: Kaladesh Booster Pack by Wizards of the Coast
·         Marvel HeroClix: Uncanny X-Men Booster Brick by WizKids (designed by WizKids)
·         Cardfight Vanguard Fighters Collection by Bushiroad
Best Role-Playing Game
·         7th Sea: Second Edition by John Wick Presents (designed by John Wick, Mike Curry, Rob Justice, Mark Diaz Truman, Jesse Heinig)
·         Curse of Strahd by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jeremy Crawford, Tracy Hickman, Laura Hickman, Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins, and Richard Whitters)
·         No Thank You, Evil! by Monte Cook Games (designed by Monte Cook and Shanna Germain)
·         Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Fantasy Flight (designed by Tim Flanders, Corey Konieczka, and Sam Stewart)
·         Shadowrun-Seattle Sprawl by Catalyst Game Labs (designed by Raymond Croteau, Jason Hardy, James Meiers, O.C. Presley, Scott Schletz, R.J. Thomas, Malik Toms, Thomas Willoughby, CZ Wright, and Russell Zimmerman)
·         Symbaroum by Modiphius Entertainment
·         Storm King's Thunder by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jenna Helland, Adam Lee, Mike Mearls, Christopher Perkins, and Richard Whitters)
·         Star Wars: Edge of the Empire-Special by Fantasy Flight (designed by Blake Bennett, Tim Cox, Jordan Goldfarb, Sterling Hershey and Monte Lin)
·         The One Ring: Horse: Lords of Rohan by Cubicle 7 (designed by Shane Ivey, Andrew Kenrick, T.S. Luikart, Francesco Nepitello, and James Spahn)
·         Volo's Guide to Monsters by Wizards of the Coast-D&D (designed by Jeremy Crawford, Ed Greenwood, Adam Lee, Mike Mearls, Kim Mohan, Christopher Perkins, Sean K. Reynolds, Matthew Sernett, Chris Sims, and Steve Winter)
Best Family Game
·         Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-building Game by Cryptozoic Entertainment (designed by Matt Hyra)
·         Garbage Day by Mayday Games (designed by Shane Willis)
·         Happy Salmon by North Star Games (designed by Ken Gruhl and Quentin Weir)
·         Junk Art by Pretzel Games (designed by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lin)
·         Karuba by HABA (designed by Rdiger Dorn)
·         Speechless by Arcane Wonders (designed by Mike Elliott)
Best Miniatures Game
·         Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team by Games Workshop
·         Konflikt '47 by Warlord Games (designed by Clockwork Goblin Miniatures)
·         Dragon Rampant by Battlefront/Gale Force Nine
·         TANKS by Battlefront/Gale Force Nine (designed by Andrew Haught, Chris Townley, Phil Yates)
·         Dropfleet Commander by Hawk Wargames (designed by Andy Chambers and David Lewis)
Best Game Accessory
·         Blood Rage Organizer by The Broken Token (designed by Greg Spence)
·         Dungeon Morph Dice Adventurer Set by Dwarven Forge (designed by Joe Wetzel, Dyson Logos, Matt Jackson, Shane Knysh, Tim Ballew, Dave Millar, Sigurd Johansson, AJ Stone)
·         Flip 'N Tray Mat Case by Ultimate Guard (designed by Adrian Alonso)
·         Improved D-Total by Gamescience (designed by Dr. A.F. Simkin, Col. Louis Zocchi, Frank Dutrait)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Web Pricing

I have talked about web pricing and value before. This copy of Stratego illustrates exactly what I mean. This fantasy themed version of the game came out in 2008 and went out of print soon after. A Google search shows the game priced anywhere from $10.99 to $299.99 The only time a price you find on the web should be taken seriously is if you find a consensus of pricing on the item. If you find several people listing your copy of Stratego for $300 then you might be safe in pricing it that, but if an equal number price it closer to $30, then, if you want to sell it, setting your price closer  to that point is a much better decision.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Board Game Geek Ratings

Unfortunately, chaps like this are a problem with rating systems, not only in the gaming industry but with all consumer rating systems. He rates just over 100 games a 10 and 7242 games a rating of 1. If you believe that his ratings are at all accurate, he would have to have played a different game or expansion every day for almost 10 years. Somehow, I just don't see that happening.

 If you are considering purchasing a game and using online ratings to help you decide, be sure to look at those doing the ratings as well.