Saturday, November 30, 2019

Kickstarter Survey

Stonemeier Games posted an interesting column on their website this week, looking at the results of a survey of retailers conducted by Joe Siebert of FlameStryke Games and John Stephens posted a follow up column, responding to the Stonemeier Games post. Siebert and FlameStryke recently launched their first Kickstarter campaign for their game Royal Bastards and apparently conducted the survey in order to garner current retailer interest in and willingness to support Kickstarter funded games ( I sent a message to FlameStryke Games asking for some more details on the survey but have not heard anything back yet, so all of my comments are based on the Stonemeier Game .  FlameStryke also sent the store some promotional cards for the game, along with a letter promoting the campaign, but we have not decided whether or not to back it).

According to the Stonemeier Games post, of the 1042 retailers FlameStryke contacted which I gather the company quantified for the survey by asking if they carried Scythe or Catan as stocking those would indicate the store has boardgames as at least part of its product mix, 223 or 21% said they had backed at least one Kickstarter.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday

Well, Black Friday sales were great but not awesome. We did noticeably better than we would on a regular Friday but not as good as sales for the first few hours indicated we would. Will probably rethink opening early next year unless we come up with some really great idea to get people in the door two hours earlier than normal. Maybe some sort of giveaway to the first 20 people through the door.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Holiday Sales

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American this year will spend about $1048 on holiday purchase. Of that, $659 will go for gifts for friends family and co-workers, $227 on non-gift purchases such as food and decorations and $162 on other non-gift purchases such as clothing.

Happy Thanksgiving

The store will open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m on Thanksgiving day with the following specials. Preferred customer Discount not valid on these specials.:

Buy Gloomhaven and get Forbidden Circles Free
Pokemon and Magic Pre-release kits $19.99
Yu Gi Oh Packs Buy one get one Free
All miniatures, EXCEPT Games Workshop, D&D and Pathfinder, buy one get one free
All Graphic novels, buy one get one free
All comic books older than 2 weeks, buy one get one free
Table of RPG Supplements $5 each
Keyforge Call of the Archons Buy One Get one Free
Star Wars Destiny Buy One Get one Free
All buy one get one offers good on merchandise of equal or lesser value.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Magic Secret Sets

WOCT just announced the release of another seven small sets of cards only available through their website. They are all cards from various sets of Magic but released with new art, so will appeal primarily to collectors or people looking for those particular cards for a deck. However, if you just want the card, it is probably easier (and more cost effective) to just purchase the card on its own.

WOTC has announced that each set will drop on a particular day and only be available for 24 hours after the announced release.

Monday, November 25, 2019

3 Things for Which I am Thankful

Since this is the season in which we traditionally give thanks, not that we shouldn’t do it the other 11 months out of the year,  I wanted to note four things (aside from health, friends, chocolate, etc) that make me thankful:

1)       Other Retailers, both local and distant. While ‘tis true that life would certainly have remained simpler not having 3 other game retailers open up within 15 miles of us within the past year, I have found them in the area has made me focus more on our product mix and determine what elements of our marketing strategy to emphasize and what to de-emphasize.  Result, our revenues did take a hit over the past year but have now climbed back to the point that they equal sales prior to the other stores opening in the area.  From retailers more distant, I can usually find at least one idea or product to integrate into the store’s marketing mix every month,  often moreso.  Visiting the websites and physical locations or reading the blog posts or online musings from stores like The Fantasy Shop, Gnome Games or Black Diamond Games, among others, proves a useful 15-30 minutes of every week.

2)      The Bits ‘n Mortar program.  Bits ‘n Mortar doesn’t get nearly enough publicity as it ought but this consortium of small RPG publishers still has their program in place, allowing registered brick and mortar retailers to give a PDF of their products to customers when said customer purchases a hard copy of the RPG.  We have customers who purchase Crucible 7 and Arc Dream RPG products specifically from us on a regular basis specifically because we participate in this program.

3)      Munchkin (and Steve Jackson Games). The base Munchkin game still sells reliably week in and week out over a decade after it first released.  Unlike some other game lines (cough-X-wing Miniatures, DiceMasters-cough), Steve Jackson Games manages to keep the almost the entire line in stock through distribution and, although they have run special sets through Target and Barnes and Noble, I have not seen them participate in any deep discounting or “Buy One, Get One Free” silliness such as appeared on the Target website last week.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A Brief History of Kickstarter

Since Kickstarter has become such an important source of new games, here is a brief look at the history of the company

Kickstarter launched in 2009 out of frustration co-founder Perry Chen faced when he ran into difficulties promoting a concert and turned to the Internet for funding.  Finding lots of interest among internet users wanting to support creative types, Kickstarter started as a way for those interested in art and music to provide support to the artists creating it.  Kickstarter supports the company by taking 5% of the proceeds of projects that successfully fund.  For those of you that don’t like Amazon, grit your teeth when you fund a Kickstarter project as Kickstarter uses Amazon to process pledge payments, with Amazon taking another 3 to 5% of the contributions for the handling.  Since launching, Kickstarter has had about 61,000 projects posted to the site and processed over 215 million dollars in pledges   but didn’t hit its first million dollar funding until this past February, when a proposed solid aluminum iPod dock , originally looking for $75,000, raised $1.4 million.  The most successful Kickstarter campaign so far has been for  the Pebble, a watch with programmable faces.   Pebble Technologies originally sought $100,000 to produce 1,000 of the watches and would up collected about $10.3 million, selling about 85,000 watches, enabling the company to add 6 people to its staff within two weeks, tripling the company’s size.

The attention garnered by successful Kickstarter projects such as these, and the Reaper and Giant In the Playground projects, obscures  the fact that posting a project to Kickstarter is nowise a guarantee of success.  In fact, according to Kickstarter, roughly 9% of all projects posted to the site receive zero pledges.  Less than 35% of game projects and 32% of publishing projects successfully fund (the most successful category:  theater.  Over 60% of theater projects launched on the site have successfully hit their funding levels).  Very few Kickstarter projects reach levels that attract the attention of the media, with only seven so far breaking the $1 million mark, as far as I can find.  The most successful Kickstarter projects fall into two categories, 1) they come from companies that already have a base of support for the project and are able to drive support for the project by pushing it relentlessly to that fan base or 2) technology blogs or other media sources find about the project, view it as novel or innovative, and start talking about it, creating awareness of it among potential funders.

There is also the problem of, what happens if a project funds but never gets produced.  In the early days of Kickstarter,  projects were typically musicians seeking funding from fans so they could produce another album.  Today,  aKickstarter project is much more likely a developer  seeking funding by preselling a product before producing it.   According to the terms of service on Kickstarter, if this happens , the creator is supposed to refund all money fund to the backers but the company provides no method for doing so on the website.  Since  Kickstarter never has the funds for a project, operating solely as a facilitator between creator and funder,  the company’s position is that it does not  give refunds and all negotiations must take place between creator and backer. 
According to a recent story on NPR 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

MAP announcements

Several game companies have made announcements regarding MAP (minimum advertising pricing) for Black Friday. The most notable is Asmodee  which announced it would lift MAP, allowing companies to advertise lower prices on Asmodee products during the Black Friday sales period. Iello and Games Workshop have said there will be no suspension of their MAP  during the period

Friday, November 22, 2019

All Flesh Must Be Eaten

Just checked with Eden Studios, publisher of the All Flesh Must Be Eaten RPG, and the core rulebook is out of print.The do plan to publish a new edition though and it will probably see print in 2020.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Why Shop Local

Although it is a bit self servicing, if you shop locally, 40 to 67% of the money you spend stays within the community and gets recycled 3 to 4 times, creating more jobs,  before leaving the area. Compare this to spending money at a chain store or online. If you spend money at a Wal-mart only 17-20% stays in your community and, of course, if you buy online, it all leaves the area immediately, creating no local benefits.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Interview with Matthew Rosenberg, Author of Hawkeye: Freefall

The Hawkeye Freefall series from Marvel releases January 1st. The store reached out to the writer, Matthew Rosenberg for some information about the series.

1. What Is Hawkeye Free fall about? Hawkeye Freefall is about Clint Barton getting in over his head while his world starts to spin out of control. A run in with The Hood that goes bad triggers an obsession in him to take down a villain who is, frankly, a bit out of his weight class. Meanwhile a new Ronin is carving a bloody path across New York and giving Clint a bad name. 2. Who will Hawkeye Freefall appeal to? I hope everyone. It's got big superhero action, a fun character driven story, a gripping mystery, lots of humor and heart, gorgeous art, and all of the other things that people like. So basically, if you like anything, you should like Hawkeye. 3. Are all the issues ready to go? No, that's not really how Marvel (or most publishers) work. I'm writing issue #4 now, Otto is drawing issue #3. And, if I can say this without sounding egotistical, each issue is better than the previous, which is a very fun feeling. 4. Is this a stand alone or do readers need to have a good knowledge of the Marvel Universe? While we nod to a lot of past Hakweye stories and have a ton of fun guest appearances, we made this specifically so first time readers could pick it up. We never want to talk down to the long time Marvel fan or do retreads for them, but we want to make sure anyone who wants to read it gets a full story. It's a tricky balance but I'm very proud of how we handled it here. 5. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your background? What other books have you worked on? I'm a comic writer, born and raised in New York City. Before I wrote comics I used to tour with bands, run a record label, work in a comic shop, and all sorts of other odd jobs. Thankfully I wrote a book called We Can Never Go Home a few years ago and it got a lot of attention. From there it's been a whirlwind. I've written another indie book called 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, a bunch of Archie comics, 1 DC comic, co-written an LP with a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, and I've spent most of the last 2 years writing a ton of stuff for Marvel including Uncanny X-Men, The Punisher, New Mutants, Astonishing X-Men, Multiple Man, Kingpin, Rocket Raccoon, Secret Warriors, and Tales Of Suspense featuring Hawkeye! I currently write Annihilation Scourge, Hawkeye Freefall, and a bunch of stuff I can't talk about.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


The 5th edition version  of Eberron arrived today. The setting has proved popular enough to appear in 3.5, 4th and now 5th edition. Funny thing though, I cannot recall of anyone locally running an Eberron campaign. Post in the comments if you have and let us know what you think of the setting.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Facebook for the Holidays

Facebook has become the go-to advertising medium for most people in the hobby game (and comic) industry, much to the dismay of my local newspaper publisher. We were discussing advertising earlier this week, well, he wanted to convince me to buy advertising since he reaches 35,000 people daily but didn’t have a very good answer when I asked him if he could get my message out to just those that were My Little Pony fans or Ticket to Ride players.  Unfortunately, despite the growth in boardgaming,  the industry is still a niche market, only doing a fraction of the sales that video games or movies do, meaning that Facebook, and other social media, with their capabilities to target specific niche market segments more so than traditional print media, prove very valuable to stores operating in the industry. That is why I found this holiday advertising guide sent out by Facebook interesting, especially some of the statistics the company provides (All of the statistics quoted come from the guide).  Like many “ebooks” , it has about 1-2 sentences in large type per page so you can read it in just a few minutes.

Granted that Facebook conducted the research but the statistic saying that 49% of surveyed shoppers indicate that Facebook will prove influential in their holiday buying give a pretty good indication that, if you want to reach holiday shoppers, you need to plan on having some form of Facebook presence. Even if most of your holiday sales come in the form of gift cards or certificates, a store needs to have top of mind awareness in the mind of the customer and making sure your customers see you on Facebook is one was to achieve that.

I don’t know if it is a case of chicken and the egg but Facebook’s research says that 47% of  consumers start thinking about holiday shopping prior to Halloween. I am not certain if we do that because of the avalanche of Christmas merchandise  and d├ęcor we start seeing in September, or if retailers put out the holiday stuff in September because customers already start thinking about it, but seeing Christmas merchandise alongside black cats and Halloween candy is a fact of shopping today. Incidentally, Facebook also says that time spent by users on the website starts increasing in the early part of October, peaking at New Year’s Eve, then slowly decreasing over the first half of the year.
We have two huge shopping days coming up in November. All US retailers are familiar with Black Friday, which, while it does not generate quite the massive sales it did in the past, still moves a huge chunk of merchandise. However, few US retailers participate in Singles Day, the largest shopping day of the year bar none. Primarily “celebrated” in China, Chinese shoppers will spend about 5 times as much on Singles Day (Nov. 11) as US shoppers spend on Black Friday. Eventually, some US retailers will figure out how to get a chunk of that.

Moving on to December, 62% of your customers will make their purchases between Dec. 1 and 24 with 25% making their purchases between Dec. 11 and 20. As Dec. 25th gets closer, more customers turn to brick and mortar stores to make sure they get the items they want on time. Incidentally 65% will continue with holiday shopping during the period between Dec. 26th and Jan 1 especially as they start using those gift cards they received for Christmas and 46% will still be in the mood for holiday shopping through much of January. So you’ve still got time to get your holiday ducks (turkeys?) in a row.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Yes, People Still Play Boardgames

I was listening to NPR’s Here and Now program and caught this story on the resurgence of analog games, as the reporter refers to them. Every so often, a  reporter in the media  in need of a human interest story will catch onto the fact that millions of people still play boardgames regularly and will write a story announcing that there are games beyond Monopoly and Clue and that people actually still “gasp” play boardgames as if it was something that millions of people don’t already know. As the Here and Now program points out, boardgames are the largest funded category on Kickstarter, dwarfing their digital brethren in terms of amounts pledged. According to ICV2,  boardgame sales have increased year to year for the past 8 years, sold over $1.2 billion (eclipsing the number of comic sold) in 2015 and fueled a 50% year to year increase in Dungeons & Dragons sales at WOTC/Hasbro. Boardgames are big and yet it still seems as if daily, game store owners report customers walking into their store, looking at all the stock and asking “So where are your games?” Why? Here are a couple of reasons:

1.       Size of digital gaming market—Remember that I just mentioned that boardgame sales topped $1.2 billion in 2015. That’s a pretty impressive figure, except when you compare it to the digital gaming market which is projected to top $100 billion in sales this year. Compare $1.2 billion to $100+ billion and you can see that boardgame sales are a drop in the bucket compared to the sales of their digital brethren. When you have numbers like that, it is  no wonder the average customer thinks of digital games first when they go into a “game store”.

2.       Confirmatory bias—This is the human tendency to judge everything in terms of its relationship to ourselves and to seek and be more comfortable with information that confirms our beliefs. Since I run a game store, I deal with what the reporter in the Here and Now story referred to as “analog games” on a regular basis. Most of my regular customers play analog or table top games and we primarily sell tabletop games. Due to our extensive familiarity with them, we naturally thing of table top games when we think of games, forgetting that the average consumer has more likely played a digital game last and are far more familiar with those games than they are the ones that we sell.

3.       The Wal-Mart Effect.  Customers are far more likely to have shopped in a Wal-mart, Target or Walgreen’s than they are to have shopped in one of our tabletop game stores and are therefore much more likely to have seen the games for sale there and to view Monopoly, Sorry and Clue as the standard of a boardgame. Confirmatory bias works both ways. When a customer spends all of their shopping time in a mass market store, they are going to get exposed to mass market games and not have any reason to consider the huge variety of other games out there, either at your FLGS or available through Kickstarter.

Maybe, instead of shaking my head at the next of these stories about discovering that people play boardgames, I need  to figure out better ways of getting the word out to the huge numbers of people that do not play “our” boardgames.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Store Website Down

We are having problems with the store website so it is offline for the immediate future. You can still get ahold of us through Facebook and our Google page.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Three Great Things About WizKids

For those of you not familiar with them, and most people reading this column are, WizKids is the premier collectable miniatures and dice game company (though I could argue not the first as anyone who dealt with Games Workshop during the 1990s could attest, with the company’s tendency to include multiple poses of the same figure in a sleeve of them and customers trying to get that one particular figure with a Multi-melta or Assault Cannon for their army. A figure holding a Bolter just wouldn’t work.), at one time after the release of DiceMasters producing more dice than any other company in the world.

Anyhow, three things that WizKids does that I really like:

1.        Organized Play website—WizKids has really ramped up their OP program over the past couple of years and has made massive improvements to the website the company uses to track tournament results. The company has even embraced the “gamification” trend of the past few years, awarding badges to players and tournament organizers for “unlocking” achievements in OP. Behavioral research indicates that this actually works in terms of encouraging more people to participate in events in the hope of adding more badges to their collection, much as the Scouts have done for decades
2.       Summer Campaigns—For the last few years, WizKids has run a massively supported summer Organized Play campaign complete with big cool prizes and limited edition boosters to draw customers into stores. In order to get access to these limited boosters, the customer has to come to the store and play in the event. A few retailers have violated the spirit and letter of the program and WizKids, from what I understand, has been pretty diligent in tracking the violators down and reprimanding or even sanctioning them from participating in further programs.

3.       Release Day Tape—The announcement of this was the thing I referenced earlier that made me happy. As I have noted in other columns, violation of street date, especially with high volume collectible items, is a bane of the retail end of the industry. Putting a notice on the packing tape of each box that the item has a release date and to go to the WizKids website to check it before putting the product inside out for sale will certainly help by giving people one less reason to claim they were unaware of the release date.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Learn to Play Magic and Pokemon

We are wanting to get more people playing Magic and Pokemon so we have learn to play sessions for both games. Learn to Play Pokemon is after school on Friday from 4 p.m .to 5 p.m. If you have played the online game and want to learn to play the card game, come by the store and we will teach you how to play and you can leave with a special card.

Learn to Play Magic is scheduled for Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. We will walk you through the basics of Magic and you will leave with a Magic beginners deck and a limited edition card.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wingspan and the law of Demand

Once again proving the effectiveness of the laws of supply and demand, Wingspan came back into stock about two weeks ago and online pricing dropped back to about MSRP. However, without a steady supply of product coming into distribution, either online or brick and mortar, pricing on Amazon has crept back up to over $100.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Local Comic Shop Day

As we have in the past, we will participate in Local Comic Shop Day on November 23 and will have a number of the limited edition titles and books available for sale. We will also have a few specials running on comics and graphic novels so be sure to ask.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Look at SJG's Suppressed Transmission Books

Both volumes of Suppressed Transmission:  The First Broadcast and Suppressed Transmission The Second Broadcast  were published by Steve Jackson Games  back in 2000 and consist of collections of columns by Kenneth Hite, known for the RPGs, Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Dark Agents, as well as several books for White Wolf Publishing and recently announced as the lead designer for Vampire The Masquerade 5th Edition, published in Pyramid Magazine, which had morphed at the time from a money losing glossy paged print magazine to a (theoretically) non-money losing web based magazine. The  topic of the column was loosely defined as Hite rattling on about whatever he wanted to write about, just so long as it did not cover game industry news or gaming reviews. Given pretty much carte blanche to write on whatever topics he wanted, Hite eventually decided to focus on four genres- alternate history, horror, conspiracies and secret history-and how players and GMs could incorporate the topic at hand into a RPG campaign.

For example, the very 1st Transmission touches on all four, looking at an early conspiracy belief among some people that Abraham Lincoln was too good a politician and lawyer to be some backwoods nobody and that he was actually the son of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall or former Vice President John C. Calhoun. After all, Lincoln leaves no historical paper trail until he begins his legal career so all we really know about his early life is what he told the public. Similarly, the theme of secret or alternate history could take the suicide of Merriweather Lewis and ague that he was murdered because He Knew Too Much. For horror, he touches upon Edgar Allen Poe, setting a campaign in a world in which Poe’s stories were real. Finally, for alternate history in the first column, he briefly looks at what might have happened in the Napoleonic Wars if Wellington had died fighting in 1809 instead of leading the campaign that defeated Napoleon at Waterloo? How would European history have changed? Could England have found another general with Wellington’s ability? The rest of the book and the next one looks at similar questions, only in more detail in each column. After all, when was the last time you read any discussion of Paul Bunyan as an American God and other larger than life American myths?

The columns collected in each book generally focus on a particular topic, (strange)historical event or conspiracy theory, along with annotations. Anyone familiar with the X-Files television series should know about Roswell and the spaceship that allegedly crash-landed there but imagine what would could have happened if the crash landing had taken place a century or two earlier? Hite looks a six potential alternative histories that games could use in a campaign. Other columns in the First Transmission look at the Philadelphia Experiment, Norton 1:  Emperor of the United States and the history of Chess, which is certainly a bit weirder than you would expect. The Second Transmission meanwhile looks at Robin Hood and his predecessors,  the occult Shakespeare, Who REALLY sunk the Titanic and why,  and the Knights Templar in America (which, if you remember , is a major plot device in the first National Treasure movie). Oh, and Hite tosses in a comparison between the Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc and Gilles De Rais, better known as Bluebeard.

Both books are highly entertaining romps through the borderlands of history and sociology and it is obvious that Hite loves this stuff and, even more, loves talking about it. Either is the sort of book that you can pick up, open to any page and, assuming you have an interest in conspiracy theories and the secret history of Planet Earth, find yourself immediately engrossed in the subject matter. You won’t find any pre-stated NPCs in either book (for that, look for a copy of GURPS Who’s Who) but you will find plenty of adventure  seeds and ideas as well as hours of entertaining reading. Both books, are as already noted, well annotated and have a pretty exhaustive indexes. Actual reference pages at the end of each column would be helpful, if only to see what sources Hite drew upon  for his columns, but that is a minor quibble. For anyone running a pulp or modern day RPG campaign, the Suppressed Transmission books are wonderful resources. For anyone else, they are incredibly fun reads.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Story in the Southern

Today's Southern Illinoisan has a nice story on the store in the business section of the paper. Game stores are very much like restaurants and bars in that they are among the few places customers expect to provide seating to use their product after they purchase it.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

A Glut of Games

We really have a glut of gaming products hitting the market and really have had for the past few years. It is to the point, though, that only a web based store can offer every thing that comes out on a monthly basis and even then, stocking them all would tie up a whole lot of warehouse space, meaning that they likely receive an order, forward it on to the publisher, and then take possession of it to ship onto the customer. What brings me to this conclusion? The current issues of Meeple Monthly and Game Trade Magazine.

I did a quick count of the number of games and expansions offered in each, not counting novels and non-fiction books or miniatures figures, and came out with over 120 different items. Of course, publishers want to produce new products for their customer base and there are some customers, not many, unfortunately, who will buy everything that releases new for a game.  If we count in miniatures and books, we are looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of  over 150 new items each month. That works out to about 1800 to 2000 new gaming products every year. That is a lot of products for the market to absorb. Online stores have infinite shelf and display space to display products but for the brick and mortar store, carrying that many new products on top of perennial selling products like D&D, Catan, Betray at House on the Hill, Fluxx, Dead of Winter, Munchkin, Gloom,  etc. (though some companies are considerately making the FLGS job easier by offering exclusives to chain stores such as Target, Barnes and Noble and Walgreens, meaning we don’t have to worry about stocking them, but that is a subject for another post).

So we have a lot of games that already sell on a regular basis AND we have about 1500 or so new products releasing every year, more than the market can reasonably absorb. A rule of thumb is that approximately 10% of the products released during a year will still sell 5 years for the date of release, meaning that of those 1500 products releasing this year, only roughly 150 will still be sought by customers 5 years from now.

The trick, and the job of the retailer, is to figure out what customers will want. If word of mouth starts trending on a product and we start seeing mentions of it in the mass media, such as what happened with Catan (popular among gamers in the know since the 1990s) and Cards Against Humanity, customer will come in asking for the game. The other thing really driving game sales is the TableTop effect, expanded to other media. A game appearing on TableTop or Watch It Played or getting lots of attention at GenCon creates awareness among other customers, creating positive word of mouth and driving sales.

The problem occurs when neither of these situations happens. A publisher sells a game through the channel and the distributor and retailer have to decide whether to stock it or not.   If they do and it doesn’t sell, it winds up on a distributor’s sale list or the retailer’s clearance table, which unfortunately happens way too often.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Events and Newsworthyness

The effectiveness of public relations in our industry is pretty limited, primarily due to our comparatively small market. I would be willing to bet that the entire industry’s annual sales only amount to a small percentage of Wal-mart’s or Amazon’s sales, meaning that news in our industry does not matter much to those who don’t play hobby games. The trick, in order to get people in the greater market and the news media to pay attention to your news is to tie it to their interests or to tie it to a more “newsworthy” event.  That is a concept called 'newsjacking" in which you use an event in the news to draw attention to your event. When it works, it can work great. However, you have to be very careful as to which events you choose. Something that is trending on Twitter is often doing so because something unpleasant happened. Check out trending topics before using them.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

A Short History of Marketing

I figure now is a good time for a refresher look at the history of marketing, which is, if you make, distribute or sell a game, an activity in which you engage. Marketing itself, when you look at it as the process by which a good or service moves from the producer to the consumer, dates back to ancient times with much exploration due to seeking new trade routes or access to products. Columbus’ voyages, for example, were undertaken to find a shorter, and therefore less costly route, from Europe to southeast Asia. Printed and clay seals used  to consistently identify the producer of such products as wine and olive oil were used in Mesopotamia  as early as the 4th century BCE while archaeologists have found marks in Pompeii indicating  Umbricius Scauras branded his own fish sauce as early as 35 CE However the term “marketing”  first applied to buying and selling products during the 16th century CE while the use of the term in its modern sense first appeared in Harper’s Magazine in 1884.

Marketing can be divided into three general areas or eras:  production, selling and consumer and, much like the development of study of marketing, all took place within the past century
During the production era which ran from time immemorial until about the 1930s, the focus was on production. Consumers did not have much choice, nor for that matter did producers. If you wanted to make a product, you were pretty much limited to what you had on hand. Similarly, if a customer wanted to buy something, they were generally limited to a very small or no selection.  The production era can be summed up in Henry Ford’s famous phrase “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black,” which Ford famously said in 1909. The customer had very little choice or say in what they wanted and had to take what was available

Over time the next few decades, more producers entered the market (rather like the gaming industry over the past decade) and the focus shifted from customers having to select and purchase from the products that producers have available to a more active “selling era” in which producers, instead of merely making products available to consumers, actively started selling their products to them. Although advertising and other forms of promotion existed before this period, their use quadrupled with the advent of the selling era, as producers competed with each other to get their products with no consideration as to how well the product met the consumers’ needs. The focus was on mass marketing and selling as much product as possible to as wide a group of consumers as possible.
Currently we are in the marketing or consumer era where the focus has shifted to the consumer. Marketing firms segment and target the consumer, analyzing their wants and needs in order to make products to satisfy said wants and needs. 
Markets are generally much smaller than in the selling era so less of a given product will sell but the producer has a much more satisfied consumer who will likely return to purchase from them again.  TCGs are a great example of products produced with a marketing focus as each TCG alters its positioning slightly, so that there is not a huge cross over between Magic and Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh and Force of Will players Yes, there are some players who will play several different types of TCGs but the overwhelming number stick with their preferred game and are happy with it. That’s the power of good marketing.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Love Letter from AEG

1.       Love Letter from AEG. was Castle Perilous Games & Books Selected Stocking Stuffer of the Season in 2015 for several reasons.  First, Love Letter is a lot of fun, plays quickly and offers quite a bit of replay value, especially with the number of variants that AEG has released.  In addition, it boasts a great price point at $9.99 for the basic game and only $10.99 for the Batman, Hobbit and Adventure Time variants. There’s even a Letters to Santa version if you want to get really thematic. Add in that the game is attractively packaged in both boxed and clamshell versions and you have a great stocking stuffer.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Games Workshop Orders

If you want to order a Games Workshop product, please put your order in by 9 p.m. Monday evening or send us an email or message via Facebook by 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. GW calls for our orders between 10 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays so we have to have the order ready to go by then. If we have your order, assuming it is not something that is a web exclusive item, it will arrive on Friday and you can pick it up then. Of course if it is a new release, you will have to wait until Saturday to get it.

GW creep is a major problem with the whole line so we tend to try not to bring in GW beyond the core products. We still carry the largest selection of GW in the area and have been told we carry more than some GW stores.

Monday, November 4, 2019

3 reasons to shop local this holiday season

That is a question brick and mortar stores have to face every year and none more so than during the holidays. Granted, the overwhelming number of purchases are still made in brick and mortar stores  (roughly 90% of retail sales are still made in brick and mortar stores, though this number is projected to increase by 14% by 2021). Given that many customers are motivated by price and stuff really is cheaper generally online and, unfortunately, most of our customers are not autistic enough to willingly spend more at their Friendly Local Game Store, just to keep us in business. We need to give them reasons to spend money at the brick and mortar store, rather than online. So here are 3 good reasons to shop locally:

1. Immediacy—when the customer buys a product at a brick and mortar store, they get to use it immediately. When the exception of digital media and PDFs, everything else purchased online takes time to reach them, anywhere from a day to a month or better.  I was just checking out a Kickstarter produced by a local publisher and backers will not receive the game until next March. Even modeling miniatures with a 3D printer takes several hours to complete

2. Finding New Stuff—Despite the vast amount of products available for sale online, in general customers don’t find new product online. They are 3 times more likely to find a new product that delights them in a physical store than in an online one (and don’t worry a lot about showrooming. According to Harris,  70% of customers webroom while only 45% of them showroom).

3. Reinvestment —More of their money stays in the local community when a customer shops at a local store. If a customer spends $100 at a local store, 68% stays in the local community  while if they shop at a chain store, only 45% stays in the community to generate jobs and, of course, if they buy online, none stays in the local community . In addition,  there is a multiplier effect when that money is spent in the community, meaning that money circulates to other business such as office supply stores, janitorial services etc. . In a smaller community like here in Carbondale or London Kentucky, the multiplier effect is only around 1 or 2 times before the money leaves the community but in a more metropolitan area such as Seattle, St. Louis or Chicago, you are looking at a multiplier of 7 to 10 times. And, of course, the sales taxes go back into such things as sidewalks, police, fire safety, sewers ect.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Happy Birthday Would Make a Great Secret Santa Gift

1.       Happy Birthday from North Star Games.  Though Happy Birthday doesn’t have the name recognition of North Star Games’ other games such as Evolution and Wits and Wagers,  or even the other games on this list, it is an enjoyable game in its own right.  Also, surprisingly given the size of North Star Games’ other products, Happy Birthday comes in a compact 3’ x3’ box with a nice heft to it, perfect for tucking into a stocking. Add in the extremely reasonable $12.99 price point and that fact that Happy Birthday is a game that younger children especially like to play, the age range is 6 and up and the game can handle up to 8 players, making it good for family get togethers and you have one more great stocking stuffer.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Consider Fluxx for Christmas!

1.       Fluxx from Looney Labs.  At $16 to $20,  is a great game, comparatively cheap and comes in a wide variety of styles, making it comparatively easy to find a version to appeal to everyone. You can buy Nature Fluxx, Stoner Fluxx, Star Fluxx, Cthulhu Fluxx, Pirate Fluxx, Batman Fluxx or even, should your tastes run that way, just plain Fluxx. The number of Fluxx games make it relatively easy to find a version that would appeal to anyone on your Secret Santa or gift exchange list. In addition, since the rules change with every game, even with every hand, Fluxx, whatever version you buy, offers immense replayability.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Wingspan and other Boardgames

We now have several popular boardgames in stock:  Wingspan, Tapestry, Everdell, Tiny Towns and Ecos. Due to their limited quantities, we were heavily allocated on Wingspan and Tapestry and do not know how long it will take for a restock to arrive. If you are interested in either, I would suggest picking up a copy this weekend.