Welcome to the annual jumping to conclusions event! I hope you're wearing your special jumping shoes, because I have a tiny sample of my sales data that I'm going to tweak into a narrative that provides me meaning and allows me to sleep at night. Ready?
This came from a discussion in which some game store owners will avoid games that rank highly on Amazon. Some will also avoid game exclusives out of principle or laziness, exclusives being games only sold by one supplier. Publishers will claim exclusives provide various benefits, including brand value protection by implementing control over where their product goes. Is this true? We'll take a look.
I'm also noting games that were crowd funded. This will show whether crowd funded games have penetrated my best sellers, as many believe Kickstarter will be the death of the game trade. I think you'll find that's not quite true.
Below are my top 50 sellers over the last twelve months. Past performance is no indication of future results, so if you're a new store owner, staaaaaaaap. Buy new games going forward and avoid the strong temptation to back fill. This is not a buyers guide.
So what do I see?
- 14 of my top 50 board games (28%) were crowdfunded. Most are at the bottom of the top 50 though. I've managed to back two of those, despite backing eight board game projects in total. Most were terrible. The other 12 top crowd sourced games came through distribution, making their origin more of a footnote for me. These numbers are significant, so I certainly wouldn't want to be shut out of the Kickstarter market. It's clearly part of the ecosystem. However, my ability to pick winners via crowd funding is sorely lacking. Years ago when I tracked every KS board game product, my conclusion was Kickstarter games were no better ranked nor worse ranked on Boardgamegeek.
- There's not much difference between Amazon discounts of distributor exclusive games. The distributor exclusive games average a 15% Amazon discount versus 17% for non exclusive. Those are averages, however. If you look at very deeply discounted games, more than 20%, you see they are 2:1 more likely to be a game that's not exclusive. With exclusivity we usually see a brand value protection strategy, which for brick and mortar stores is quite welcome.
- Amazon top selling ranks make no difference. 8 of our top 50 games (16%) are on any of Amazon's top 50 lists. The average ranking of both distributor exclusive and non exclusive games is around 1,000. That might be because Amazon has already saturated that market or perhaps we're a little too niche within the game market. I personally don't look at Amazon rankings for games, although I'm intensely curious about how my book ranks (#144 in starting a business, but anything is possible if you create small enough categories).
So what did we learn? Amazon rankings are meaningless. Kickstarter is important for the board game ecosystem, but my ability to pick winners is poor. Distributor exclusives aren't especially brand value protected online, but those without exclusivity tend to be very deeply discounted.
|Betrayal at Baldur's Gate||No||No||640||18%||-|
|Betrayal at House on the Hill||No||No||36||31%||-|
|Dead of Winter||No||No||408||10%||Alliance|
|Cards Against Humanity||Yes||No||10||0%||CAH|
|Arkham Horror LCG: Core Set||No||No||74||17%||Alliance|
|Legend of the Five Rings LCG||No||No||584||21%||Alliance|
|Mansions of Madness||No||No||1615||0%||Alliance|
|Codenames: Disney Family||No||No||55||36%||-|
|Harry Potter Hogwarts Battles||No||No||47||36%||-|
|Star Wars: Imperial Assault||No||No||819||10%||Alliance|
|King of Tokyo||No||No||100||20%||-|
|Pandemic: Legacy Season 2 - Bl||No||No||386||35%||Alliance|
|Ticket to Ride||No||No||22||14%||Alliance|
|Fallout Board Game||No||No||337||20%||Alliance|
|7 Wonders: Duel||No||No||165||10%||Alliance|
|Bears vs Babies||Yes||No||37||0%||-|
|Near and Far||Yes||No||701||36%||-|
|This War of Mine||Yes||No||26%||-|
|Century: Spice Road||No||No||1323||24%||GTS|
|Mice and Mystics||No||No||536||14%||Alliance|
|Axis & Allies Europe 1940||No||No||627||29%||-|
|Pandemic: Legacy Season 2 - Ye||No||No||1452||21%||Alliance|
|Small World Board Game||No||No||10591||7%||Alliance|
|The Grimm Forest||Yes||Yes||2213||3%||-|