Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Effect of Tariffs on Canadian Magic 2

To follow up on yesterday's post (you can read it here), the 10% tariff imposed by Canada on playing cards meant that Wizard's Tower cost for a pack of Magic increased by 10% cutting into already thin profit margins. Remember Canadian stores have to import most of their Magic from the US and often the exchange rate between the Canadian and US dollar is not that favorable. This means that , in order to stay in business (remember that Wizards Tower does 90% of its business in Magic), the store had to raise the price of a pack of Magic from $3.99 to $4.99. Needless to say, the store's customers did not like this.

So, in order to cushion the price increase, Wizard's Tower tried to spread the price increase around by increasing the price of tournaments. Charging an extra dollar for tournaments means the store could afford to absorb some of the increase in costs from the tariff. However, players started deserting the tournaments for stores that offered cheaper entry fees. Apparently the store also had a lackluster response to Ravnica Alligences or War of the Spark, the podcast does not indicate which, meaning the store did not see its typical inventory turnover, leaving unsold inventory in stock.

The store managed to hold on and Canada removed the tariff earlier this month, meaning WT could again buy Magic at its old price. Unfortunately, that also means the store still has a significant amount of Magic it had purchased during the time of the tariff that it will have to sell at the regular, not tariff price, or alienate its customers, cutting into store margins probably for the rest of the summer.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Effect of Tariffs on Canadian Magic

This podcast from Planet Money looks at the effect of the reciprocal Canadian tariffs on one Canadian game store. After the administration imposed 25% tariffs on Canadian steel, the Canadian government responded by imposing a 10% tariff on a wide variety of American imports including, playing cards. Since Magic falls into that category, the Wizard's Tower game store, which imports all of its Magic from the US, saw its prices rise automatically by 10%, reducing an already pretty small profit. Since the store sees 90% of its sales come from Magic, dropping the line was not an option. Listen to the podcast to see what happened or come back here tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Steve Creech Obituary

Steve Creech of Decatur Indiana passed away today. Active in the game industry for over 20 years, he owned both Bastion Press and Dragonwing Games. If you played D&D 3.0 or 3.5, you likely owned a Bastion Press product as the publisher was a major creator of OGL materials during the run of the two editions and still produced new material focused on the D20 system.  While Bastion Games was a solo operation, Creech ran Dragonwing Games in partnership with Kevin Rusch, producing material for the Pathfinder RPG.

Creech also spent over a decade as the chair of the RPG selection committee for the Origins Awards. As such, it was his job to contact publishers each year for submissions for the Award, then pull together a committee to vote on which dozen or so titles, selected from the hundred or so under consideration, should advance to the final vote by members of the gaming community. I had the opportunity to work with him on the 2019 awards and it amazed me how well organized he was and how attuned to detail. The Origin Awards and the gaming community as a whole have lost a vaulable member and friend.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

More on Tariffs

If the proposed tariffs go through, they do include HTS code 950490600 which includes chess, checkers and other boardgames  Here are some more details on it but if you don't feel like slogging through the verbiage, unless there is a negotiated end to the trade war with China, boardgames and supplies would see a  25% tax increase on their prices later this year. It would not go into effect this summer, so games already in production would not be effected, but we could see price increases across the board by Christmas. Gary Ray, owner of Black Diamond Games, looked at his top sellers and where they are manufactured. Due to cost savings, the overwhelming number are produced in China and, unfortunately, due to supply chain constraints, companies cannot shift manufacturers quickly. they are looking at 6 months to a year before a new publisher could be found.

What could happen:
1. to product consumers, manufacturers absorb the tax increase and hold prices steady instead of passing it along to the consumer.
2. manufacturers pass the price increase immediately along to the consumer

Either option is not desirable. Previous tariffs from the Trump administration have targeted raw materials, not products used by the consumer. this latest batch will hit the consumer directly in the pocketbook.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tariffs and you

If the next batch of tariffs gets approved, expect to see a significant increase of approximately 10-25% on a lot of gaming products. Most game companies print the majority of their products in China and game boards, printing ink and sleeve plastic would be included. Among others, Ultra Pro, Wiz Kids, CMON, Cards Against Humanity, Steve Jackson Games all print their products in China because of the significant cost savings. Pokemon, Wizards of the Coast, Reaper and Looney Labs print their games primarily in the US and Chessex produces its dice in Germany so they will be exempt. If the third batch of tariffs does get put into place, and there is a period for comments to go to the government before the tariffs are imposed.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Power of the Package

I had the opportunity to try a game designer’s newish card games earlier this month. The games played smoothly and in general, I liked the card art. However, I opted not to bring them in for one simple reason:  the only packaging was a strip of plastic shrinkwrapped around them holding the cards in place. No box, no clamshell, nothing, so I passed on it.  If you want to sell any product (with the possible exception of live animals), you need packaging.

Packaging serves two basic purposes: functional and promotional.  The functional purposes of packaging are to allow the customer to transport it, protect its contents and give needed information about them.

Consider consumer products. Could you transport liquid laundry detergent or toothpaste home from the store if it did not come in a bottle or tube? This is the first function of the package, to hold the contents together conveniently. While carrying home an RPG like 13th Age or FATE is relatively easy (though try getting one home without that handy binding), imagine taking home a board game like Settlers of Catan or Zombies! without the box. Pieces and cards all over the place!
The second thing the package does is protect the contents. Even something as simple as a deck of Once Upon a Time cards needs a package. If you just put them out on the shelf, they will get dirty, shelfworn, even torn. The box, or clamshell, or case, protects them from normal damage.
The third functional thing the package does is provide information about the contents. In the case of toothpaste, the customer wants to know how many ounces, is this tartar control or whitening formula, does it contain fluoride? Consumer protection laws for consumable items require a list of ingredients as well. You find that information on the package. Though ingredients are not necessary, in the case of a game, the customer wants some basic information: how many people can play, what ages are suitable, how long should a typical game take, what is inside the package?  This last is important because the customer typically cannot open the box to see the contents and stores may not want to open it if they do not have a shrinkwrap machine (If a store does not have a shrinkwrapping machine and the customer decides not to buy, the opened game is now worth less in the eyes of the next customer).

In terms of promotion, packaging can do two main things: make your product stand out on the shelf and sell it to the customer. Steve Jackson Games is a prime example of using packaging to make its products stand out, purely though box size. As I mentioned in previous columns, I used to think SJG was wrong for packaging Munckin in such a large box. Time proved me wrong and over the years, SJG has moved away from the small tuck boxes in which it packaged Chez Geek and Illuminati. Today, those games, and others, come in boxes the size of the Munchkin box, the easier to stand out on the shelf.

The packaging also should sell the product to the consumer. Tell them why they should buy it, why they are going to have fun playing it, how play works. While the FLGS probably has someone who can tell the customer about the product, if a game makes it to the shelf of a Target or B&N, no staffer there will work to sell it.  The poor game package is on its own. Bland doesn’t attract attention, bright and attention getting does.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Yu Gi Oh Advent Calendar

Konami has announced its 2019 Advent Calendar, which will arrive in September and feature lots of versions of Kuriboh:

Konami Digital Entertainment Inc, is proud to bring you this year’s version of the newly designed and sized Advent Calendar.  Coming this holiday season, the Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME Advent Calendar returns to honor the old-time tradition of counting down the days to Christmas, in a way fit for a Duelist!

This year’s Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME Advent Calendar is more compact and double-sided, with 12 doors on each side, but still packed to the brim full of holiday-themed cards to add to your collection and power up your Decks.

Kuriboh has shown off many forms since its first release back in 2002, appearing in all generations of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime.  This year’s Advent Calendar features Kuriboh in many of its most popular forms.  The special alternate art winking Winged Kuriboh and even a brand-new “Performapal” Kuriboh monster will both be included and featured on the packaging!

Each Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME Advent Calendar contains:
17 Super Rares 7 Ultra Rares

***Here is a review of some of the notable changes made to this year’s calendar:
  • Size is smaller: this year we are making it double sided, so 12 slots on one side, and 12 more slots on the other side
  • Exclusive content: there’s a new card that is exclusive to this item, plus a promo card that hasn’t been printed in years

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Upcoming Releases for Shadowrun

Hey chummer, here are two new supplements for Shadowrunn arriving this summer:

Shadowrun: No Future
$49.99 SRP

A key part of Shadowrun’s longtime appeal is its setting, where cyberpunk blends with fantasy and a lot of attitude. No Future emphasizes the "punk" part of cyberpunk, offering new details about the setting including current music acts, popular and underground trid shows, media sources, and Sixth World sports from both the mainstream and the fringes, and all sorts of pirate media from people following the core DIY principles of punk. With detailed setting information and game rules for creating and using characters who rise out of Sixth World culture, No Future is an indispensable resource for gamemasters and players who want to experience the full richness of Shadowrun.
Shadowrun: Neo-Anarchist's Streetpedia
$34.99 SRP

There are many ways to enter Shadowrun’s Sixth World setting—the classic RPG, the story-focused Shadowrun: Anarchy RPG, card games, board games, computer games, dice games, and more. What all these things have in common is the gritty, detailed Shadowrun world, one of the primary hooks that draws people to the games. No matter how people play, they can benefit from The Neo-Anarchist Streetpedia, perhaps the most detailed reference to the Sixth World ever produced. With hundreds of entries on topics ranging from Ares to the Z├╝rich-Orbital Habitat and written in a lively, engaging style, this book will be a useful reference to anyone wanting to keep up with the details in one of gaming’s all-time great settings.
Order by Date: June 1, 2019
Release Date: June 2019