Welcome to GenCon Indy week for those of you not going.
If you're a regular inhabitant of game stores, you may have noticed the hum of the track lights, the cleanliness of the carpet, and worst of all, the lack of product on the shelves, both new and old. There's nobody in the store and there's a struggle to find anything new to bring in.
It's odd that in a season of new releases and hot gaming goodness that there's this game industry vacation smack dab in the middle of August. During this time, existing games go out of stock because, a) there's nobody at the manufacturer to ship them, or worse, b) they brought the stock to the show. This will have rippling effects for the next few weeks, so be patient.
New products are in holding patterns or aren't ready and won't be released until after the show. This means it's a bit slow now because the release train has stopped. It also means there will be a deluge of products that you and I will have to sort through post Gencon. In the middle of January, a very dry month for releases, the Complete Left Handed Half-Orc Paladin source book is looking pretty good. I might buy a couple just because I'm tired of looking at my Christmas stock. However, in a sea of RPG books post-Gencon, it probably wouldn't get ordered.
For some stores in the MidWest, their sales plummet during this week as their customers go to the convention. That's when I would go on vacation (or the con). Only our most hardcore alpha gamers make the trip from California. They usually arrive back home with that Complete Left Handed Half-Orc Paladin under one arm, talking about the great releases coming up they now own. If the game is marginal, word spreads quickly among their friends and the Internet and many customers will know it sucks before it hits my shelves. If it's good, unfortunately they often don't let me know, so it sells out fast when it arrives. If you're waiting for something, a good game store manager will want to know about it. Tell me.
For most games this has little effect on how we stock things, but if a game is marginal, and I was only planning to buy one or two of each, I'll now buy few or none. My customer base, defined as the 30% of gamers who buy from me within 10 minutes of my store (according to Ryan Dancey), will have little idea it exists. It's the marginal games that get shorted by selling at the con, but the publishers think it's offset by word of mouth by the alpha gamer.
Like the Internet and children with sticky fingers, I just have to take it all in stride.