Monday, 29 October 2007

Wicked Thoughts on Games by Ubarose


When forced to play Euro auction games, pretend you have Tourettes. During the bidding yell out a random word or phase such as "Holy jump-a-mum-mum" or "underpants" or, if you prefer, words that cause your e-mail to be intercepted and quarantined by corporate IT security.










When forced to play a game with one of these, suddenly say, "Oh. I have to remember to pick up C batteries on the way home." Then write yourself a note so you don't forget.











When forced to play Leonardo da Vinci, carefully study the backs of the cards throughout the game.





























and have a Happy Halloween.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

e.g.

"fuck this fucking shit"

?

Michael Barnes said...

You know...I've been watching syndicated reruns of THE SIMPSONS lately and every time they show inside the Flanders' house I expect to see a big pile of Eurogames...I bet Rod and Todd would totally dig TRANSAMERICA...

neonpeon said...

Hahaha...Barnes you just reminded me of a scene where Lisa is babysitting Rod and Todd...They're playing a religious board game.

Lisa: Where are the dice?
Todd: Daddy says dice are wicked.
Rod: We just move one space at a time. It's less fun that way.

Michael Barnes said...

YOU'RE RIGHT! I remember that one. It's settled then...the Flanders are a Eurogaming family.

Juniper said...

Not anymore! The Flanders are boycotting Eurogames because it's un-American to cap discounts at 20%!

In other news, many regular BGG users seem to think that a $40 Eurogame is not worth a penny more than $26. I guess they need to save their money for fanny packs, plus-sized track pants, and THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS CDs.

In other, other news, many BGG users seem to be more concerned about a $6 effective increase in the cost of a boardgame that they already own, than in government fiscal policies that have caused the buying power of their currency to plummet.

StephenAvery said...

Unless I'm mistaken (and I rarely am about these sort of things) that last picture is Vampire Hooker Witches!! Woot!

Michael Barnes said...

I had a feeling that was for Steve Avery...

On the Mayfair price declaration, since Juniper brought it up...speaking directly from experience in the retail end of the business, board gamers are the biggest bunch of whining, penny pinching bastards I've ever seen in my life. I've had customers actually try to haggle with me using online pricing as their leverage point- doing a 30% discount means that any profits are _razor_ thin and they're trying to save an extra dollar or two.

It's fucking ridiculous that the business part of the hobby has gotten to the point where competitive discounting is destroying the B&M retailers that built the industry in the first place and still serve important roles as community centers and key points of contact between consumer and product. You can say "that's capitalism" all you want, but what it really is is that people are spoiled by online discounting and that's pretty much destroying competition. I'm all for a bargain, I'm all for making the most out of my own entertainment dollar but I have to say that online discounting of board games has _really_ hurt the industry. You may not think so, you may not ever get it, but it has. It is the #1 reason why in 2005 over _half_ of the hobby game specialists in the US WENT OUT OF BUSINESS. A B&M store can't possibly compete against retailers online doing 35% discounts.

It used to be that at a 45-50% wholesale price a retailer could almost double their investment, but now you buy a $50 at wholesale for $28-$30 and sell it for $35. That's a profit of $5-7 PER GAME. And when we're talking about a tiny, niche market that means no money for retailers unless they're just doing huge volume.

I think it's great that Mayfair stepped up for all the mom & pop retailers that pretty much depend on folks walking through the door and leaving with a copy of SETTLERS OF CATAN. I think it's great that a major manufacturer has said "Look, we have to preserve our level of business regardless of what a bunch of internet crybabies think".

I think it's really telling that a lot of folks are already saying "I won't buy Mayfair games anymore" or whatever...it's not about playing the games anymore and getting the most for your money by playing and enjoying them, it's about amassing giant collections for the lowest investment possible. I would have payed a thousand bucks for my copy of SETTLERS if I had known how much I would have gotten out of it over the years.

I admit, my initial punk rock reaction to the announcement was "those money grubbing corporate types are at it again" but having worked in the business I can tell you that there ain't all that much money in this entire industry and I know first hand how internet discounting and the supercollector pinchpurses have negatively impacted the entire industry- from top to bottom. Some FLGS owner over at the Leading Board Game Site mentioned how he was tired of people using his store as a showroom for an online retailer and I've had the same experience- and I was running 30% off everything all the time!

If board gamers cared as much about something like say, unfair and antiquated income tax policies as they do about paying *GASP* _retail price_ for a fucking board game then we'd have a revolution on our hands. I guess if you're one of these sad shit-sacks who have to hide the credit card bill from your wife to cover up your $200 Thought Hammer order then you've got to get the most for your money...or something, I dunno.

The bottom line is that the hobby game industry is too _small_, particularly given the overall decline in sales of CCGs, RPGs, and other lines to support a retail environment where the only way to win is to shave profits down to a bare minimum. Other industries, like the book business for example, can deal with deep internet discounting because it's a larger industry overall. MUCH larger.

MWChapel said...

Fuck Mom and Pop. They didn't hug me enough when I was young. Now I'm an old bitter penny pincher, and I want my games at a 35% discount. If not those publishers can kiss my Scottish change purse goodbye!

Ken B. said...

This just in: "Mike Chapel Wants Game Publishers to Kiss Him on the Coin Purse"

Juniper said...

This just in: "Mike Chapel Wants Game Publishers to Kiss Him on the Coin Purse"

Well, he's in luck. Unless I've misread something, Rio Grande's Essen release "DARJEELING" is about teabagging.

Juniper said...

it's not about playing the games anymore and getting the most for your money by playing and enjoying them, it's about amassing giant collections for the lowest investment possible. I would have payed a thousand bucks for my copy of SETTLERS if I had known how much I would have gotten out of it over the years.

Interestingly, Mayfair gave us the opportunity to retroactively do something very similar to that, when they offered the 3d Settlers chest. A common assessment of this offer on BGG was "why would I pay $300 for 3d Settlers, when I can buy TEN OTHER GAMES for the same money?

When I was a kid, there were two kinds of comic book nerds. The ones who read the comics, and the ones who put them into plastic baggies. For a while, there, the baggie people seemed to far outnumber the genuine readers. Eventually, those baggie people moved onto Magic: The Gathering and Beanie Babies (but not before half the comics specialty shops in America -- and all of the comics distributors except one -- went out of business).

I guess that the plastic baggie phase is inevitable in the lifespan of any geeky niche hobby. Boardgames seem to be square in the middle of that phase now.

Michael Barnes said...

You're spot on, Juniper. But the difference seems to be that people aren't hoarding board games as a speculative measure, effectively investing in a presumed increase in value. I do see some folks that do that but it's pretty rare. If anything, most board games DECREASE in value over time and they only hold any value whatsoever to hobbyists to begin with. And of course, it goes back to the fact that the hobby isn't nearly as big, popular, or lucrative as Beanie Babies were. Beanie Babies likely still FAR outsell even the most popular board games. Think about that for a minute.

That's a good point on the SETTLERS chest...the irony is that it really is worth $300 bucks but most of the folks who bought it likely never play it. I did get a lot of speculator interest in it because initially they were only selling 500 copies of it...now it seems to be pretty much unlimited.

The funny thing is that this all really does tie right back into Ubarose's post...the surefire way to offend a Eurogamer is to tell him he has to pay FULL RETAIL PRICE for a game.

neonpeon said...

Screw 35% off. I want to make my own set. Give me nice printable graphics along with complete instructions and a tuckbox generator.

Juniper said...

But the difference seems to be that people aren't hoarding board games as a speculative measure, effectively investing in a presumed increase in value.

I agree. It's not an exact analogy. Still, I'd say that the parallels are stronger than you might think.

The speculative collectors' market that ruined comics was motivated by a collective economic delusion: that you can consistently get something for far less than its true value.

When Jim Lee's X-MEN #1 came out in 1991, it sold something like 8 million copies. I don't know how many actual X-MEN readers there were back then, but it was probably around 150,000. That means that 48 copies of X-MEN #1 were printed for every reader. There was no way that these comics would ever be scarce, but because it was X-MEN, because it was a #1 issue, and because it was Jim Lee, speculators hoarded 8 million of these things. They seemed to believe that the comics had a true value that far exceeded the cover price, and that they could somehow magically profit by buying a shitload of them. It's like they thought they were buying $20 bills for $1.50 each.

Nowadays, a mint copy of X-MEN #1 can be had for $2.50, or less. For comparison: X-Men comics published this month have a cover price of $2.99.

The situation with boardgames isn't much different. There seem to be a large contingent who believe that they should be able to consistently buy all their games at prices that are damn close to wholesale. It's the same magical thinking: "I am exceptional, so I am able to buy an item for far less than its true value; market realities have as little to do with me as gravity does to Superman."

When market realities impinged on this fantasy, and a publisher negotiated a better deal for the retail channel, the magical thinkers became indignant, because they were so completely convinced of their exceptionalism. Predictably, they accused the publisher of immoral conduct. What they forgot is that every commercial transaction involves at least two parties, and that both parties need to benefit in some way, or there is no deal. Capitalism is not multiplayer solitaire.

The funny thing is that this all really does tie right back into Ubarose's post...the surefire way to offend a Eurogamer is to tell him he has to pay FULL RETAIL PRICE for a game.

Sigh. If only it were true. A surefire way to offend the contemptible assholes on BGG (many of them Eurogamers, some of them not) is to tell them that they have to pay 80% of retail.

Jeb said...

I recently saw an excellent generic summation for this type of discussion: "For the fuck of shit." Seems applicable. I like games, I like money. I want to maximize both in my possession. I buy games online, I "go in" with other to trigger shipping breaks, etc.

That said, if I walk into someone's store, it doesn't enter my fucking head to start talking them down on prices while waving a printout from totallysketchygames.org. You are within your rights as a B&M retailer to ask that person to go eat a bowl of dicks.

Jeb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juniper said...

I like games, I like money. I want to maximize both in my possession. I buy games online, I "go in" with other to trigger shipping breaks, etc.

I want to make it clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with any of that. Nobody can blame you for taking the lowest price on offer.

My problem is with BGG folks disparaging Mayfair Games and Tom from Board & Bits simply for wanting to negotiate a better deal for the retailers. They've been called un-American! Since when is it un-American to use your bargaining power to get a bigger piece of the pie for yourself than the meager sliver on which you've subsisted until now?

I think it's fair to say that 35% discounts were great for the consumer while they lasted, but they were clearly not sustainable. I'm grateful to Mayfair for stepping in and trying to do something before the retail channel was irreparably damaged (by comparison, the comics publishers actively contributed to the collapse of their retail channel during the '90s, and it's never fully recovered).

J de said...

Sorry, Barnes, but instead of whining how capitalism is ruining the market for the FLGS, why don't you think of a solution?

Can these independent, hard headed singletons form into retail cooperatives, thus lowering their purchase prices and operations? Can they set up their own collective internet shop? Can they draw directely from the publisher and cut out the middle man?

For some reason it is no problem to have a walmart for groceries, dairy, meat etc etc etc, but 150 years ago that was all specialised M&B shops (and markets) as well. Then came multiple retailing and we all lived happily ever after. So what's so special about game stores?

MikeZ said...

It used to be a common joke in American sitcoms to portray women as idiotic shoppers. They would be portrayed as willing to spend hundreds of dollars on items that they don't need simply because they were on sale.

This mentality is present in the cheapos on the 'geek who are complaining about Mayfair. They don't seem to care about wether or not they would play a game nor its actual price. All they are concerned about it what percentage they are saving.

A prime example of this is the moron who refuses to buy Starcraft:TBG simply because nobody is offering it at 35% off.

According to one store, the price that stores are paying for the game is $54.38. If they sold it for 35% off, they would be losing about $2.30 per sale.

MikeZ

Juniper said...

Sorry, Barnes, but instead of whining how capitalism is ruining the market for the FLGS, why don't you think of a solution?

The problem here seems to be one of poor reading comprehension.

Let me fill you in on the part that you missed: the current furor was ignited when someone did think of a solution, and acted on it.

Juniper said...

For some reason it is no problem to have a walmart for groceries, dairy, meat etc etc etc, but 150 years ago that was all specialised M&B shops (and markets) as well. Then came multiple retailing and we all lived happily ever after. So what's so special about game stores?

So...um...let me help you, here. Really. I'm sure you're a nice kid and all, and you're trying really hard.

First of all, your analogy doesn't work because everyone eats food. Some people do it two or three times a day. A tiny minority of the population buys hobby boardgames. Any loss of business to online retailers is a problem to a brick & mortar game store because the market is so small and so specialized already.

Second, your analogy doesn't hunt because no online grocer is offering discounts of 35% on every item in their catalog.

Can these independent, hard headed singletons form into retail cooperatives, thus lowering their purchase prices and operations?

Actually, no, they can't. A b&m shop has two big expenses: the cost of the retail space, and the cost of having employees to mind the store. Scales of economy don't lead to savings with respect to either of these expenses.

Can they set up their own collective internet shop?

You see what you've just done? There are a bunch of morons on BGG falsely (libelously?) accusing Mayfair and all of the retailers (both online and b&m) who intend to continue carrying Mayfair's product line of collusion and price fixing. Now you've gone ahead and proposed an alternative strategy that consists, essentially, in collusion and price fixing.

Oh, it is too rich. I cannot take another bite.

Oh, OK. One more...

Can they draw directely from the publisher and cut out the middle man?

The publisher is not going to compete on price with his distributors. It's possible to buy games directly from the publisher, but they'll give you about the same discount off the retail price (around 50% or so) that the distributor will. And there are other important advantages to buying through a distributor.

Michael Barnes said...

J De, come on man...think before you post.

Sorry, Barnes, but instead of whining how capitalism is ruining the market for the FLGS, why don't you think of a solution?

Because right now, the situation is at an impasse. There is no solution other than to cut margin to practically nothing, which means the overhead a B&M store incurs is unattainable. Having a kick-ass, well-appointed B&M store that supports the community with competitive prices and provides a gathering place for gamers goes a long way, but so many dollars are going to online stores that it's a losing proposition in most markets. Because doing all that is impossible when you're making a 10% profit margin. Remember, it used to be that MSRP meant you were get double your money back.

Capitalism isn't killing the business at all- it's consumerism and consumer behavior.

Can these independent, hard headed singletons form into retail cooperatives, thus lowering their purchase prices and operations?

Believe it or not, I tried something similar. I spoke with a couple of other retailers about "teaming up" to get better terms from distributors but of course that idea flies in the face of common business sense and I was pretty much laughed off the phone. It doesn't make sense...but sometimes crazy ideas like that turn out to be brilliant.

Can they set up their own collective internet shop?

Same situation. You're talking about getting involved in some really complex business situations that pretty much no one in the industry wants to mess with.

Can they draw directely from the publisher and cut out the middle man?

I'll tell you the two problems with this. One, publishers RARELY wholesale any better than distributors and two, minimum orders rule the day. I might want to get 4 copies of HOT NEW GAME but the publisher will only wholesale them by the case. Of 12. So I can risk capital on 8 extra copies of the game or go to a distributor. I really prefer getting direct, but most of the major companies don't do it anyway. The middle man is there for a reason.

For some reason it is no problem to have a walmart for groceries, dairy, meat etc etc etc, but 150 years ago that was all specialised M&B shops (and markets) as well. Then came multiple retailing and we all lived happily ever after. So what's so special about game stores?

This is likely the #1 problem in all this- that the board game consumer has no clue concerning the specifics- and yes, exceptions- that characterize the hobby game industry. It doesn't work like mass market retail. No one is getting rich. Retailers don't get games for pennies on the dollar. We're talking about a business where a title that sells 10000 copies WORLDWIDE is a top seller. To compare the functioning of a grocery store or even something like a book store to how a game store works, operates, and even makes money is ludicrous and frankly ignorant.

You know what? I hope every publisher adopts a similar policy. I hope people buy less games and that designers and publishers step up and give folks more value for the money. I hope people worry less about accruing lumbering, useless collections and more about getting the most out of their favorite games. And I hope the whole thing makes smaller B&M stores more competitive with the online discounters, which is the point of it all.

mtlawson said...

I've always been a fan of FLGS, mainly because that's how I got started boardgaming. (RPGs were through the help of friends, but that's another story.)

That said, yeah, I've been tempted to go and buy on the cheap online. A $50 game for $28 seems awfully tempting, but when I support an FLGS, I'm supporting the visibility of boardgaming in the community. One FLGS I go to is next to a popular local restaurant, and I've been friends with the owners for 16 years now. The other (and newer) FLGS is, ironically enough, in a mall. Both stores see traffic because of location, and in both cases, I know that they get business that the online retailers would never get. Who does more for boardgaming, the online company that relies on people actively looking for it for business, or the FLGS that will have the browser stop by and find something they've never seen before?

Besides, for an FLGS to not only survive but thrive in a mall setting these days is pretty much amazing. I took the kids the other day to a mall that my wife and I used to shop at, and as the mall has gone more "upscale", the actual breadth of stores has declined into a bunch of Express and Gap and Sharper Image clones. A store as quirky as a FLGS -much less the old Museum Company stores- was nowhere to be found.

Maybe I'm just getting grumpy as I approach 40, but I think that if the FLGS dies, then boardgaming will be primarily in the hands of Walmart. And I don't hear people jumping up and down for joy at that prospect.

--Mike L.

J de said...

As a matter of fact I did do a bit of thinking before posting, when I was sidetracked in a PhD on agricultural cooperatives in te late 19th century Europe. Given their success I tried to figure out why cooperation was not as successful among retail shops.

I agree that food retail is unlike game retail, but there's lots of stuff in Walmart that used to be specialised stuff.

Sure, rents and wages are the main components of retailing, but there are possibly some other areas for economies and savings and you don't need to discount 35% to survive.

It is easy to blame everything on the consumer, but it's the consumer that drives capitalism, and it's because of consumers that we have walmarts.

If consumers have no clue about the characteristics of the game industry, they sometimes have a personal link with a publisher or designer. And why should they have a clue? Since when do people have to have a clue to buy something? Having a clue is only useful if that means you know where and when you can get games better or cheaper.

In fact, the 'collectors' you so deride (and most other gamers) are willing to pay money for games they might never get to play. A lot of games are bought, played once but found wanting. Gamers take risks there. I´m not so negative about the consumer.

In the end consumer behaviour isn't going to change. Sad as it is for some forms of retail, but we'll have to deal with it as it is.

Then maybe the only solution is to adopt the methods of the competition, ie economising on distribution and purchase. Even though this is not solving the above problems.

If I say cut out the middle man, I mean to purchase in bulk as a group of retailers. I agree this is a complex operation and may therefore not be viable, but at least that part of the profits goes to the the members of the cooperative.

Similarly, setting up a 'FLGS online shop', nationwide, would at least mean that any profits made in distribution end up in the shopkeepers purse at some point. Again, complex and expensive, but not inconceivable.

Apart from complexities of solutions I´m afraid that mom & pop are themselves obstacles to such solutions. They are retailers and not entrepreneurs, often fiercely autonomous and often not very risk tolerant. Kudos to Barnes for trying at least.

You guys are still thinking problems, not solutions. Unless you can start a non-consumerist mentality change or get politicians to change the law on the FLGS's behalf, game retail will have to take care of itself. You may not like to hear it, so shoot the messenger.

adrianbolt said...

juniper said...
"A common assessment of this offer on BGG was "why would I pay $300 for 3d Settlers, when I can buy TEN OTHER GAMES for the same money?"
Another unhealthy aspect is the trainspotter syndrome - play a game, tick it off the list, and on to the next one. Hurry, hurry, hurry. (Playing enjoyment strictly optional...)

Juniper said...

You guys are still thinking problems, not solutions.

[slaps forehead]

OK, short sentences this time:

Mayfair has proposed a solution. That's what we've been discussing.

Juniper said...

It is easy to blame everything on the consumer, but it's the consumer that drives capitalism, and it's because of consumers that we have walmarts.

This is the "multiplayer solitaire" theory of economics. The market is not a Eurogame. It's not just the consumer that drives the market. It's also the producer, the distributor, the retailer, and every other participant in the system.

I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons we have WalMarts is Sam Walton.

Juniper said...

I´m not so negative about the consumer.

Ah, reading comprehension again.

I've tried to make it clear (see my post that begins "I want to make it clear that I don't think there's anything wrong with that.") that I'm not disparaging "the consumer," but rather a group of about 100* people on BGG who have been falsely accusing Mayfair and their resellers (a group that includes, essentially all games retailers except, apparently Boulder Games) of immoral conduct.

* based on the approximate number of thumbs Jim Sandefour got for his commie-baiting accusations of un-American behavior.

Juniper said...

In fact, the 'collectors' you so deride (and most other gamers) are willing to pay money for games they might never get to play. A lot of games are bought, played once but found wanting. Gamers take risks there. I´m not so negative about the consumer.

They're not willing to take much of a risk at all. The people that I've been deriding have made it clear that they're willing to hazard 65% of the retail price of a game, but not 80% of the retail price of the same game.

In practical terms, they are not willing to allow the retailer to have anything but a microscopic profit margin. And what happens if a retailer stocks the latest exciting game from Essen and the critical concensus on BGG later decides that the early hype was wrong, and that the game sucks? That poor fucker of a retailer will have to discount the game even further, or give it to the local orphanage or something. In other words, the retailer takes a loss on the game.

Who's really taking the risk?

mtlawson said...

The same argument bandied about the online game retailers (low cost drives sales) is the same one that Walmart used to give when they'd move into a town and crush the local mom and pop stores. "People like low prices", "The mom and pop store was overinflating prices", and "We give value to the consumer" were all taglines that I've heard in the past.

The problem underlying those lines is that in order for you to make a profit on small margins like the deep discounters have, you have to either a) have really cheap stuff to start with, b) sell huge volumes of stuff, and/or c) minimize costs by any means possible (cheap personnel costs, cheap building costs, etc).

An online business attempts to perform b) and by not having a storefront and minimal employees, tries to meet c). A B&M shop has higher fixed costs (c), and will typically not sell high volumes (b). Therefore, the cost driven consumer will find that a B&M will be undercut all the time by an online retailer. To shop at a B&M shop, you need to acknowledge the other positives of that B&M shop: community visibility, customer focus, quality of shopping experience. If a B&M shop meets those criteria, they have a fighting chance.

The problem is that the customers who would ordinarily support a B&M shop are now going online because of price only, and by doing so are cutting off the flow of potential new customers into the hobby. I love to harp on the fact that the Internet is a great tool for finding things, but you have to want to find something in order to land at an online retailer. If you're not looking for boardgames (or camping equipment or photography equipment or whathaveyou), you aren't going to stop at an online retailer. There's no "hey, check out this store" browsing going on there. All the online retailers know is the different hits they get, but they can't tell whether the people coming to the site were already boardgamers, or whether they stumbled on the site while browsing somewhere else.

--Mike L.

Juniper said...

If I say cut out the middle man, I mean to purchase in bulk as a group of retailers. I agree this is a complex operation and may therefore not be viable, but at least that part of the profits goes to the the members of the cooperative.

Your proposal is essentially that, since games retailing is intrinsically unprofitable, the game store owners should enter a completely different line of business: wholesale distribution.

That still doesn't make the stores profitable. In effect, the store becomes a kind of loss leader for the wholesale distributor.

In practice, your scheme will make the channel even shakier, because now the retailers are trying to put their own suppliers out of business.

Michael Barnes said...

Eric Martin over at Boardgamenews.com just turned in a great piece on this subject (the Mayfair Decision, not the vampire hooker witches)- a quote:

Sure, Mayfair might lose a few customers in the short term, but those who make purchasing decisions solely or primarily on the basis of price are the worst kind of customer that a business can have. These customers want low-cost goods, but they complain if the goods look or feel low-cost; they have no loyalty and make each decision on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately basis; they value a great deal over a great product; their cheapness is matched only by their volume when complaining about how they were done wrong by some predatory company.

Good stuff.

Juniper said...

One more thing:

there seems to be confusion about Mayfair's new policy.

They haven't offered preferential treatment to the FLGS. They're just saying that they don't want any of the their resellers -- online or otherwise -- to discount their products more than 20%.

I think the policy might actually benefit the online retailers more than the retailers with actual storefronts. It's still possible (and common) for a b&m retailer to sell a copy of Settlers and full retail price. For the reasons that Mike L. explains, an online retailer won't make a sale without offering a steep discount.

Mayfair is now saying to the discounters "you can have some of your profit margin back." Brick and mortar shops that weren't discounting anyway don't benefit. Online retailers that were discounting very steeply do benefit.

The comparison of FLGS to OLGS business models is interesting, but it's a bit of a red herring.

ubarose said...

So what do people think about the theory that the 80% MSRP may indicate that Mayfair is working on a distribution agreement with a larger retailer? Target is selling Blokus, and will be selling Wits & Wagers. Is it possible Target, or other chain is interested in carrying Settlers?

mtlawson said...

If that happens, I think that of the big box retailers Target would make the most sense. They've carried games like Buffy and Apples to Apples before they became huge, and their emphasis is not the same as WalMart or K-Mart.

The likelihood of Settlers doing well in Target hinges upon the Settlers console game having enough adherents. Hasbro pioneered the boardgame -> console game route; while you have FFG and Eagle Games going the reverse route, you don't often see a boardgame -> console game -> new emphasis on boardgame progression.

One other thing to mention: of the Eurogames that have come out the past 12 years or so, Settlers is the one that comes closest to penetrating the mass market. If any game can do it, Settlers can.

--Mike L.

Juniper said...

So what do people think about the theory that the 80% MSRP may indicate that Mayfair is working on a distribution agreement with a larger retailer?

The very first thing that I thought when I learned about Mayfair's new policy was "oh, they're relaunching the Settlers product line, and now they're protecting their prices. They must be aiming to sell Settlers in Target stores."

If that happens, I think it will be great for everybody. More passersby will discover hobby games, and even if a small proportion of them decide to pursue hobby gaming further, that will still represent a lot of new business for the specialty gaming stores.

Michael Barnes said...

Hmm...that's an interesting thought regarding Mayfair having an eye toward mass market, and one that makes a lot of sense. If they were working on procuring more wholesale/distribution deals with larger retailers (whom would likely charge close to MSRP), it would definitely be in their interest to assure retailers that they're not going to be struggling to sell a product that routinely sells for 35% off retail.

One thing you _don't_ see a lot of in hobby game retail is smart business...if this is what Mayfair is doing, it's smart business.

Either way, I see the whole thing as an industry leader basically stepping up to stop the bleeding that deep discounters and people like those who huddle around BGG forums right before Boulder Games announces their sunday sale to see what they can swoop down on like a pack of fucking vultures.

I actually saw some jackass over at Boardgamenews.com claim that Mayfair needs to "reassess" their product line before assuming that theirs are premium games...

Juniper said...

I actually saw some jackass over at Boardgamenews.com claim that Mayfair needs to "reassess" their product line before assuming that theirs are premium games...

Yeah, I saw that, too.

Some people are so nerdy that their nerdiness is invisible to them, and they think they're mainstream. To support his argument that Mayfair does not have premium games in their catalog, the guy offers this nugget:

I think BGGs top 100 bears this out.

He doesn't seem to see the BGG is a niche within a niche, and that the BGG regulars are the nerds that the nerds pick on.

Obviously, the BGG top 100 is not representative of the tastes of the games-buying public, and it is definitely not representative of the tastes of the whole population. According to the Rio Grande website, Halli Galli is their fifth most popular title! It's currently ranked 1736th on BGG.

Does the simple fact that Halli Galli is a reliable seller for Rio Grande make it a "premium game?" Not necessarily. But it does demonstrate that, even within the market for specialty games, the folks that have taken time to rate games on BGG are aberrations, and that their opinions are not representative of any larger population.

Anyone that appeals to the BGG top 100 list to support an argument about anything other than the parochial insularity of BGGers deserves a swift and deep wedgie.

I'm just ranting, now. I forgot to take my pill yesterday.

Mr Zir said...

I am happy to say that my local Target now carries Wits 'n Wagers, which my FLGS never did. I think it would be great if Taget picked up the Settlers line. At MSRP, I wouldn't be buying it for gifts, but I would direct friends and family that want their own copy there, just as I now do for Blockus.

Malloc said...

hmmm...

Has not GW been doing something similar (i think it is a 10% limit) for about 10 year now?

I could go either way on this. I am a capitalist to the core, but I know what limiting the number of viable retailers can do to a small market.

The fear is that if the margins become so razor thin, and the only way to make real money (i.e. enough not to go out of business) would be to sell huge volumes. Most retailers won't be able or willing to try and compete (there is risk there) so B&M retailers stop selling games, but that is just the start, eventually the smaller online guys stop trying to compete on volume (because the total number of people buying games won't support it.) in the end 1 or 2 big online guys are doing all the buying and selling of games.

it becomes a wal-mart/target thing where the retailer can demand price cuts and also begins to only sell what they know will sell, like fucking monopoly.

We the gamers will suffer from less options when we buy. all to save what, $6 a game?


-M

Michael Barnes said...

limiting the number of viable retailers can do to a small market.

This is really the crux of the whole problem. The hobby game industry just isn't big enough or profitable enough to support deep discounting without resulting in a situation where there's a very small number of successful online retailers offering close-to-wholesale prices and doing tremendous volume with little overhead.

I think it's VERY telling that one of the chief deep discounters (I ain't naming names) has been very vocal about the Mayfair Decision, going so far as to say that he would no longer stock Mayfair products. This is a retailer who has almost no overhead, does a very high volume, and relies on his ability to cut margin to the quick to keep it up. He can't afford to cut discounts on Mayfair products because he won't be selling them less than everybody else is anymore. His competitive edge is dulled because he can't and doesn't offer anything else to the customer beyond the lowest prices in the retail field. Is he doing something wrong? No. I see the business case for his argument but in the long run can that business model survive?

GW is tyrannical about discounting- going so far as to completely cut off retailers who engage in discounting from direct sales. But they're also in a position where they're directly competing with retailers that sell their products by having their own stores. I think that's kind of weird, but that's a different issue altogether. But the bottom line here is that GW encourages compliance with their pricing structure and as a result FLGS outlets are assured of a certain level of profitability from their product lines- you don't have to worry about some kid coming to your store and seeing the new stuff and then going online where he knows he'll get it for 30% off. Even though GW has been posting losses recently they've been historically a successful company and they're still, even with losses, making a hell of lot more money than Rio Grande, Z-Man, and other mid-upper level companies.

The thing is, something like this has been going on for a long time and you guys that haven't been in on the retail part of this don't know...net pricing, where the distributor sets a price for an item outside of the usual wholesale discount terms, is becoming more common. If you look on the website for "that guy" I mentioned, you'll notice that there's a bit about how if you preordered STARCRAFT you'll still get it at the preorder price. This is because STARCRAFT is net priced, and it wasn't expected to be. So his price on it is literally like $2 over wholesale. It sucks for him and he'll have to raise his price on it, but it's good for every other retailer who can't compete with his price on it. Manufacturers and distributors _should_ be more concerned with success and profitability in the larger sales field than what amounts to less than 10 deep discount retailers.

Make sense?

Anonymous said...

For some reason it is no problem to have a walmart for groceries, dairy, meat etc etc etc

Why the hell would you buy meat at Walmart...Yeah I want to buy meat from a company that forces its suppliers to cut prices or else.
I betcha the quality of there "fresh Meat" is just awsome see how they probably have to cut so many corners to make a profit.
Thats just asking for some happy little stomach ailment.

KingPut said...

Tell me is it a full moon or did I just read 42 comments on Fortress: Ameritrash talking about shopping and economics. Isn't Eurogames that feature shopping and economics the one of the biggest complaints of people on this blog. I don't know what's worse reading comments about shopping or playing games about shopping or perhaps its having Malloc beg me to play him in Caylus. On the other side, I thought the Simpson comments were a riot.

Juniper said...

Does Ned Flanders sell left-handed wooden cubes at The Leftorium?

Michael Barnes said...

A better question- is the Leftorium still in business or did it get buried by online stores offering left-handed products at 35% off retail price?

Kingput- the thing is that this is an issue that affects the whole hobby. I think it's pretty damn important, and some of the reactions I've seen have galvanized me even further against a lot of the online boardgaming community.

Nice work blowing the whistle on Malloc there. I knew he was AC/DC.

KingPut said...

I hear you brother michael barnes. The main point of my comments was obviously to bust on Smithers (I mean Malloc’s) AC/DC tendencies not to bust on the prices and supply of games.

Michael Barnes said...

Yeah, if you can produce some photos we'll post them here...maybe he'll get all Jerry Falwell on us...

J de said...

My fault for trying two answer to two separate angles of criticism in one go, so I'll split my defense up.

The structural issue

I felt that Barnes' initial remark on the Mayfair issue drew it into a wider lament about the gaming industry and retail in general.

I have not implied that game retail is inherently profitless. However, the challenge by online retailing is structural and won't go away. We may not even have seen the worst of it. This is I believe the general gist from Michael's post and one that I feel we all agree on.

Mayfair's action IMHO is not a structural solution, but more of a rearguard action. Considering that for most comsumers price at some point will tell, discounters will win through in the end if they can sustain the discounts in the long run. Also, Mayfair is not a M&B retailer itself and ideally the businesses should be able to exist without the publishers' protection. Therefore I still see a need for other responses to the structural challenge.

J de said...

The which consumer are we talking about issue

It is not always clear who we are talking about as consumers. One time it's a vocal, but not at all representative BGG clique, then it's a mass market. That confuses our arguments. So let me describe how I see the consumers, and about which groups I think we have been talking.

Looking at the mass market, as I've understood it from people who worked in the European games industry, the real volume is in the standards: monopoly, risk, cluedo etc. These have relatively large and fairly steady annual sales.

I think those consumers rarely buy games outside that range of standards. Whether M&B stores can tap into that market I can't tell, but I also don't think it likely that these people go looking for games in online discount stores. This is a group I think we haven't addressed.

There is a much smaller group of consumers who play games more regularly and have tried a few less well known games. Settlers is probably a game they will have played.

These people have their own taste in games, but not so much 'loyalty' to publishers, designers or the FLGS and for them, price is important in determining purchase. They also don´t risk buying untried games. This seems like a group of people where online retailing could do well.

There is a smaller group still that is more actively involved in clubs or regular gaming nights and maybe BGG. These people play lots of games, try new ones, visit game show etc etc.

you can see a lot of these people´s show reports and they consistently purchase a good deal of games and often without trying the game first.

These people consciously take the risk of a misfire in the belief that in general it pays off. (Re Juniper: this does not diminish the risk to the retailer, and I didn´t mean to imply that). This is where I feel I fit in and when talking about consumers, that´s what I´ve assumed it to mean.

But Juniper and Michael (I gather) both point their resentment at a group of very vocal BGG game omnivores. They have been labeled 'collectors' but they are not necessarily true collectors in my view. They buy lots of games untried but don´t seem to want to bear the risk.

These guys seem to be assholes in general, which is of course worsened because they like Euros, don't wash are overweight etc etc. The stereotype is common on F:AT.

Aside: Some of these are true collectors, but I can´t believe they are a significant minority (maybe in sales volume). Anyway for true collectors price is less important.

and back: I doubt how big their actual power is to make or break a game and you might be giving them too much credit.

(Then again, everybody who uses the term 'unamerican' should be thrown from a steep cliff.)

J de said...

ps I wish I had more time to put into this right now, but I'm running late for work. More on solutions later. seeya. Juniper, I'm fine with you acting like a patronising prick, at least you don't talk out of your ass and it's highly enjoyable. This kind of argument makes me feel that F:AT is back on track.

Juniper said...

Juniper, I'm fine with you acting like a patronising prick, at least you don't talk out of your ass and it's highly enjoyable. This kind of argument makes me feel that F:AT is back on track.

:-)

I'm glad that you're reading it in the spirit in which it's intended. It's not meant to be personal. It's game table trash talk.

One of my favorite trash talk moments arose during a game of War of 1812 with a good friend of mine. He was playing the British/Canadians, and he made it clear that he intended to invade Michigan. We still repeat "fuck Detroit!" like a mantra every so often. We don't actually want to fuck Detroit, but it seems like something that needs to be said.

On the topic of crappy profit margins for online retailers: I've noticed that Adam Spielt in Germany is getting out of the e-tailing business, and has announced their clearance sale today. They decided that it just didn't pay to provide an online retail service.

Mr Zir said...

Just for comparison's sake, my first job was at a large grocery store. At a cost-cutting meeting we were told that the company made
a profit of about $0.05 per item and that management was happy that the store still grossed $1M/month even after a rival moved in
down the street. I am just curious to know equivalent figures for a FLGS.

Malloc said...

Yeah yeah, so I played a game of Caylus, In fact I raised its rating a bit (3 -> 4) after playing a 3 player game.

I had to see if the [former] 2nd best Caylus player in the world was all he was cracked up to be. Besides, my other options for gaming that night were: PR with a newbie and a notorious whiner or Twilight Struggle with an intoxicated newbie who had not read the rules...... I went with Caylus, and stand by that decision after seeing the 2+ hr train wreck that the PR game ended up being.

For the record me and Bobby Tweaks got spanked.

-M

Michael Barnes said...

And all it took was Ubarose to post a humour piece for us to totally derail and have one of the more significant discussions we've had on here in a while. :-|

You have a good point J De, that there is a structural problem, but unfortunately that's really a much larger issue than you give it credit for. It's how most businesses operate It'd be great to revolutionize the industry but but there just isn't an opportunity to do so, and there's practically no initiative in it to do anything differently. The Mayfair Decision, yeah, is sort of a rearguard action and it's really more of a move to protect the overall health of the business- Mayfair does still rely on B&M stores for the bulk of its sales and they fortunately understand that the BGG babblers and bitching deep discounters_are_ a small fraction of who actually buy games at a retail or wholesale level.

As far as what I've done to address the problem, I'll tell you that running a 30% discount in a B&M store is _brutal_. It's what I did at Atlanta Game Factory and I did draw a lot of folks away from online retailers and board games were my top-selling product line. I did more revenue monthly on board games than RPGs and miniatures combined (with CCGs it dependend on if a new MAGIC or VS. set was out). But it was also the slimmest profit margin. With rent, paying employees, maintenance, and other operational costs that thin profit margin on the top-selling product line pretty much meant that the business was not self-sustaining. I tried to add value and profitability in other sectors (I was even selling Airsoft guns at one point) but in the end deep discounting in a B&M store doesn't work. That being said, the last couple of months before we shut down due to partnership issues were ridiculously good. The last month we did $27k in business. That's HUGE for hobby retail. If I had to do it over, I probably would do a buy 2, get 1 free deal. It works out to 30% but it specifically rewards volume purchasers.

You have the customer types down pretty well...and something really critical to remember in all of this is that it's just those really vocal BGGers and the folks who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on gaming- whether they're justifiably labeled as "collectors" or not. I've already seen individuals trot out statistical analyses of how much they'll be spending annually if the Mayfair Decision echoes through the industry. People who wind up spending an additional $30-$40 aren't going to care so much, but people who place $200 orders monthly are shitting their pants.

Maybe it helps to identify that group more as "superconsumers" than collectors...collectors implies something kind of different. The thing is, publishers know that there are a lot of folks out there who buy board games ravenously and that's part of the reason we have so much mediocre/middling crap out there now. Maybe if the Mayfair Decision becomes more widespread it will cause customers to be more discerning and designers and publishers to focus on delivering unique and high quality titles to support the cost-to-value ratio.

I mean, we're talking about people who will buy an extra $20 game to save $5 on shipping...

Frank Branham said...

Barnes:

Actually, the online retailers do offer something that the FLGS tend not to...a more robust selection.

Boulder and Funagain pick up odd things by directly contacting european distributors and manufacturers. Something no FLGS I know of really ever did. The entire import game scene, and the entire BGG community owe their existence to online retailers.

Which means that Mayfair also owes its Settlers Franchise to Boulder and Funagain. Boulder in particular, picks up a lot of obscure and very indy stuff. They also include candy, which helps even out Sandi's occasional disapproval of my game purchases.

Because I remember the days before importers got established, when it was IMPOSSIBLE to get even more common German games.

So I do in fact plan to no longer buy Mayfair games. This isn't a serious heartbreak, as if there is a rare game I want, I'll just pick up the German edition and paste it up.

Shellhead said...

I bet that the rising price of gas has a greater impact on the online sellers than the bricks & mortar locations.

Juniper said...

So I do in fact plan to no longer buy Mayfair games.

If that's true, then you're going to miss the US Edition of HOLY JUMP-A-MUM-MUM. It looks pretty sweet; the wooden scoring markers will be shaped like C batteries!

mtlawson said...

Well, I know that the FLGS that I've been frequenting for ages used to get German editions of games back in the mid-90s. I spent a long time hemming and hawing over a German edition of Tigris and Euphrat before deciding that I was going to wait for an English edition that Mayfair was supposed to be putting out. It took a couple of years later than I expected, but Mayfair did get that edition out.

It all boils down to how your FLGS was going to operate; if they wanted to bring in the imports, they could.

FWIW, I'd argue that rec.games.board had as much if not more influence on the Euro revolution than Funagain and Boulder.

--Mike L.

StephenAvery said...

1. Debate is pointless. Adapt to a global internet driven ecomomy or die

2. Again, this should really really be about vampire hooker witches (get it strait dammit!)

Steve"nihlist"Avery

Michael Barnes said...

Actually, the online retailers do offer something that the FLGS tend not to...a more robust selection.

This is a great counterpoint to the FLGS argument and it's 100% true- not only is selection an issue, but availability is too. I might stock a couple of copies of a hard-to-get title but someone like Boulder likely gets 20-30 copies to meet demand. Hell, I've even gone and ordered stuff elsewhere because I couldn't get it through my distribution channels.

However, the market for those types of games is very, very small compared to the market for most other product lines in any given FLGS. An FLGS would be crazy to stock a big pile of German-language editions of AGRICOLA. But an online retailer whose market reach far exceeds that of an FLGS can do that.

Boulder and Funagain pick up odd things by directly contacting european distributors and manufacturers. Something no FLGS I know of really ever did.

Because it's not really possible. At my shop, I couldn't order from a European-based distributor because it simply didn't work financially. I could place a $500 order and risk winding up with a bunch of unsellable stuff, pay through the nose on shipping, and basically take capital away from sure-bet things that would sell. Boulder or Funagain can place a $5000 order and make a profit because that's just how wholesale works- the more you can spend, the better break you get on wholesale pricing and on shipping. Contacting manufacturers directly helps, but when Boulder's running the item at a price near what you're getting it wholesale it isn't worth it.

The entire import game scene, and the entire BGG community owe their existence to online retailers.

This is true to an extent. I definitely remember when all this first started with the European games it was pretty much online or not at all. Mayfair was importing a couple of things over and they'd turn up in a few FLGS and Rio Grande started bringing stuff over and just putting that little black and white sticker on their stuff. A lot was coming through Wargames West at that time. When I got into the "scene", I found pretty quickly the early Boulder Games site (which was really just kind of a list that you ordered from) and Funagain. I ordered import games from them all the time.

HOWEVER, at that time, the discount levels weren't so low. Funagain stuff was pretty close to retail. Close enough so that domestic stuff I still bought exclusively at FLGS.

It is true that online availability of Eurogames is a key element of the development of BGG and the online community as it stands today, but I think that kind of discredits that fact that there was a board game culture and community before that. I don't think online retail "created" that at all, and I think at this point it also doesn't (or rather, SHOULDN'T depend on it to exist.

Besides that, if BGG and the board gaming community is founded chiefly on the availability of 35% off retail games, then that's a pretty shaky foundation.

Which means that Mayfair also owes its Settlers Franchise to Boulder and Funagain

Now Frank, this is nonsense. While Boulder and Funagain made the early import editions available (I got my first German set through Funagain)and that certainly helped it along, the success of the SETTLERS franchise in a larger context has more to do with word-of-mouth, grassroots proliferation than it does with who's selling it and at what price. Considering that it's a first purchase for a lot of new gamers I'd be willing to be that a huge percentage of copies were/are sold at full retail by someone unaware of deep discounting- folks who haven't been "trained" to look for a 35% off MSRP price point. Its availability on Xbox Live is still fairly new but I think over time we'll see that the franchise's growth will likely owe a lot to that as well, let alone if speculation is right and they're working on larger distribution deals. Plus, we can't discount the fact that it's just a god damned great game and great products of any time routinely sell beyond demographic or audience.

But to say that the franchise is successful because of who's selling it is like saying donuts are popular because Dunkin' Donuts sells them at a discount when you buy a dozen. I get what you're saying, but ultimately it just doesn't hold up. Once you get outside of the hobby community, it's a completely irrelevant argument anyway.


So I do in fact plan to no longer buy Mayfair games. This isn't a serious heartbreak, as if there is a rare game I want, I'll just pick up the German edition and paste it up.

So nothing will change, right? ;-)

The big question is, however, will you stop buying games from Fantasy Flight when they institute a similar policy? STARCRAFT is "price fixed" (which is a totally inappropriate term, btw) through net pricing, so do you intend to not buy that? Or how about the next Days of Wonder release since they also net price stuff to prevent deep discounting? How about when it becomes an industry practice, will you not buy ANYTHING then?

There is _definitely_ a movement in the business to support FLGS in a more pronounced and specific way to bring business back there and offline. The Mayfair Decision is on the extreme end of it, but there's also exclusive-to-FLGS promotional items, in-store play programs, demo packs, buyback offers (basically a chance to return unsold product), and other perks extended to B&M retailers. So all this "sky is falling" talk is not necessarily unwarranted.

It's occured to me that I think a lot of people (not you Frank, you could never buy a game again and be just fine) really have become dependent on deep discounting to maintain their level of acquisition and since that's such a big part of the BGG-based board gaming community, that's why we're hearing so much uproar over it.

Frank Branham said...

Actually, even when rec.games.board was active, there were still only a handful of people (12-20 or so) who were actively on there playing Euros.

The only place you could get games was the amazing Games People Play in Cambridge, and a place in Silicon Valley. Any decent game would sell out quickly. It took me about 6 months to get a copy of Settlers, as I had to wait for a group collaborated import order (R&D Games did some orders for Gathering folks). This was typical, as you had to wait for enough orders to be collected, and then the order to be placed, then shipped, and then the one guy to reship your games to you.

Funagain was the first really easy to deal with importer. Shortly thereafter, Mayfair began to import a small number of games for the distribution channel as well.

The next bit is that these games were STILL upwards of $60. Settlers was $65. Funagain and Games PEople play initially launched with the usual 100% markup on their shipped cost for games. Which led to some $80 and $100 pretty common games.
Die Hanse was $70 list back in 1995, with basic components and nothing pretty.

Boulder (which mostly did wargames, but which already did French and Japanese imports) started competing on price.

Until that happened, people with games were VERY rare.

Of course, if you wanted to play some of the more obscure Eurotrash games (Eurogames and some of the French companies), you were pretty much out of luck. I found most of my wacky French and Italian stuff secondhand from some of the Gathering core that bought everything at Essen (Alan Moon, Mike Schloth.)

So rec.games.board was important for talking about the games, but the online folks were essential to getting people to actually play them.

Mr Skeletor said...

What is vampire hooker witches ?

J de said...

As an aside: online orders have had the opposite effect on miniature wargaming (if you except the GW franchise). I'm talking Europe here, can't tell for the US.

Stores selling miniatures were always far more rare than shops selling board games, even the whackyer stuff. In the 80s, distribution channels were hardly existent outside the UK. Game shows were essential in picking up new stuff and releases.

With internet stores (and revolution in the casting technology) there has been a proliferation in manufacturers, ranges, sizes, themes etc. Quality (not just in casting, but also in design) has risen in its wake. Producers can essentially work from home, with the internet site as the shop window.

Completely different business model and product, so no immediate lessons for board games, but interesting to note that the effects of online shops are not necessarily negative for the small producer. We'll have to see how it tags out in the long run.

J de said...

back to solutions

I dont know if I've made it clear enough that I don't think each individual FLGS should set up a webshop or cut out the middle man. But if a large group in a geographical area would do so, that distribution organisation could operate at a similar economy of scale as the purely online shops.

The object of the ´collective FLGS´s online shop´ is not to maximise profit, but to offer distribution to the shops at minimum cost and to plow back the net profits back to the FLGS.

As a large group, they could buy in bulk (saving) and then distribute to the shops, as well as to direct customers through the same channels (that's the ideal situation, correct me if FLGS order volume prohibits using the same channels).

Added advantages would be that the shops could mix different publishers in one order. Another possible externality would be to directly order out of stock games from the FLGS through the ´collective FLGS´s online store´ to your home, thus ameliorating the stock range problem.

One could also think of extra discounts for people affiliated to FLGS (which already happen).

It would diminish the problem of people using the FLGS to test the game and then buy online (as long as they then buy it at the ' collective FLGS's online shop').

The ' collective FLGS's online shop' could point to shops, clubs and events in the neighbourhood (trying out before you buy, early views of upcoming releases).

Although it won´t stop the online discounters, it may actually reclaim a piece of that business to the aid of the FLGS.

From my experience with agricultural coops the greatest advantage was in information distribution. Distribution coops kept members informed of new technologies and market developments. This advantage may be less now than in an age where information was more expensive. However, information on collective sales would still be very useful for B&M stores.

A final advantage of coops historically was political and market representation. Some business sectors have very powerful lobbies going on at state and federal levels. I don't ever expect that for game stores (although I'm sure the electronic entertainment sector is by now well represented).

However, market representation could still be very useful in dealing with suppliers and legislatures.

As noted before, distribution is not the main cost for B&M shops, but it would help.

I hope I didn't get your hopes up to high: read on below to find out Why it won´t work anyway

J de said...

Why it wont work

Because B&M owners are even more pigheaded and independent than Danish peasants, are not homogeneous politically, and although maybe they share many social similarities, in Marx' terms they are a group an sich, but not f"ur sich.

That makes them hard to unite in support of one goal.

The farmer coops had the advantage that they were interesting as voters to political parties who therefor invested in their organisation. Small shopkeepers could be woed under the guise of the Mittelstand-ideology, but that concept has lost its positive ring and can hardly be translated to the 21st century.

Also it will be hard to get them to raise the capital to set up the distribution network (although they might use the postal network, I can see additional problems there).

They might take over somebody else's network (eg buying an online game shop).

If they set up the shop, it will still need capable staff. Large business demands different skills in management and marketing.

Most of all, it needs missionaries with the qualities to raise the consciousness of the oppressed, offer them a vision of a better future. And to assure them that all the above problems can be overcome.

The sole advantage they have is that probably most B&M shops realise there is a crisis and that making more hours and tightening the belt won't weather the storm.

J de said...

Michael, you argue that publishers bring so many new games to satisfy the 'superconsumers'. That would imply that it is a profitable business.

I find that hard to believe, because it seems cheaper to sell 2000 of one game than 2x1000 of two games. Design and development costs are probably not so high (as there is a luxury in the industry of many people offering their designs, which saves a bit on the publishers' costs).

Or do the publishers reason that if they publish a few, at least one will stick and pay for the losses of the others (a bit like in the music industry, although the analogy sucks for other aspects)?

Frank Branham said...

Curiously, a co-op model might work if you had to put an FLGS game store back together.

Funagain certainly owes its survival to the fact that it was set up as a co-op. (I do not know the current arrangement.) During the initial setup, they maintained a retail store as well. They made decent money around the holiday season, and most of the folks hmade less than minimum wage for the rest of the year.

ubarose said...

Holy jump-a-mum-mum

Ken B. said...

"What is vampire hooker witches ?"

Correct! Pick a category!

"I'll take Occult Prostitutes for $800, Alex."


Ah, that's today's Daily Double!