Saturday, February 12, 2022

Change is Coming


Consider this:  in the past it took decades if not centuries for humans to widely adopt technological change. The printing press, telegraph, automobile. Today, however that change can spread in a few decades or less.  The  smartphone is less than two decades old and, according to BankMyCell already over 80% of the population has one. Similarly, according to DataReportal, social media, also less than 2 decades old, is now utilized by over 57% of the world’s population. Countries and private organizations are installing renewable energy sources at a blistering rate. Polio vaccine took two decades to develop, we managed to create one for COVID-19 in under less than a year.

What’s the point? Change is coming at us faster and faster. What took decades can now be done in a year or two. In the game industry, we have seen a massive ramp up in online board and RPG play, watching other people playing RPGs, card and boardgames have become viable means of entertainment and those selfsame people appearing on the streaming platforms you want cane move sales with just a mention of the game. Witness the effect the games sales of just a mention of the Skull card game on TikTok. Only a couple of years ago, only a few games even considered buying and using metal dice in a game, now our store sells 2 to 3 sets a week at a price I would never have thought anyone would pay for a set of dice. Our store has at least 3 Chinese manufacturers contacting us directly want us to place orders for metal dice with them.  10 years ago, there was no way I could feasibly justify purchasing metal dice in quantities to make the buy profitable. Today it is quite feasible.

Similarly with dice towers and dice trays. Both have been available for years but only in the last few years, as a greater number of people sale them in use on various RPG play streaming shows that demand for them increased to the level that made stoking a good selection of them with a dozen or more manufacturers offering both in assorted designs.

So what changes can we expect to see over the next few years? Here are couple of things I think will come about

Reshoring to Mexico—Although not feasible in the immediate future, i.e. next year, I expect to see some boardgame production companies open up factories in Mexico over the next five years and, under the USMCA, companies will see significant tax and cost advantages compared to importing from China. In addition, a much shorter supply chain will shorten the turnaround time. The quicker the US market can get a product, the quicker it can sell, and the quicker channels will need to restock. A shorter supply chain speeds the turnaround process dramatically.

More Kickstarted TCGs-  The success of Flesh and Blood and Metazoo have put dollar signs in the eyes of other creators. WE have gotten several solicitations from several companies launching their own TCG with funding secured through Kickstarter and I expect to see a glut of these hitting the market over the next few years. Unfortunately for most of them, the “Ladders in the Mind” concept says that most markets have room for a Number 1 and a Number 2 with all other competitors battling it out for third place. Currently we have three battling it out:  Pokemon, Magic and Yu Gi Oh with no indication of any of the three fading away to give space to an upstart. I expect some to gain attention for several months or a year or two and then fade away, much like the The Crow TCG (You did know there was a Crow TCG, right/)

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