Saturday, August 4, 2007

Hot & Not

This is the calm before the storm regarding the build-out. We should see major progress on signs and the build-out next week. Meanwhile, some things that are doing well in the store and things that are slowing down (or dead). I'll base this on game departments, since most gamers only play in one or maybe two categories. If you're an across the board kinda gamer, you're one of a rare breed.

Collectible Card Games. This is a category that always seems to run very hot and very cold.
Hot would be Magic, especially the new 10th Edition. Our Magic sales have done very well lately as other local stores have closed and our name is getting out there. Box sales have been phenomenal, something we've slowly built up towards. The stores who sold boxes cheaper than us went out of business (a warning?). We wait patiently for Chaotic, which is supposed to be the next big thing. Pokemon remains relatively steady (slow), but it was previously dead.
Cold would include some games that have died off of late, including Naruto, Bleach, The Spoils, Eve, BSG. Some of these had good runs, like Naruto and Eve. The Spoils died on the vine despite pre-release tournaments with good feedback. It suffered from bad timing, along with Eve.

Role-Playing Games. Small press stuff has the energy, but the bulk of sales is still bread and butter D&D. This is still our biggest category and sales are remarkably robust, even on slower selling lines.
Hot would be Spirit of the Century and no other small press books at the moment. We've been running Spirit events in the store and everyone, I mean everyone, is impressed with this simple to play system. This Summer I've been re-ordering older D&D titles like mad, especially Magic Item Compendium and Player's Handbook II. I think they may both be outselling the new releases. Accessories do very well too: critical hit decks, flip mats, battle mats and dice.
Cold: Our other big games have seen few new releases: Mutants & Masterminds? Shadowrun? Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay? I haven't looked at the radar, but hopefully we'll see some after Gencon.

Miniatures. Painted miniatures not associated with a game are in a big slump for us right now. There's nothing hot for us, but we're eagerly awaiting the new pre-painted Reaper miniatures. I'm hoping these sell well, even though they're not getting new people into the painting hobby. I used to take a lot of chances in this category, because I had so many mini painters. Now many have gone for various reasons, and nobody has taken their place, despite attempts to grow the community with out painting contests and classes.

Tactical Miniature Games. These are the ones you buy and paint. I also include AT-43 in this grouping because of the rule set and it's non-collectible nature. I expect this entire category to take off when we move and have adequate game space. TMG's are almost as strong as role-playing for us.
Hot would probably only include AT-43, which is growing at an almost alarming rate. New player's are slowly getting into it and new releases sell better or as well as my top games. It's still barely holding on as my number ten game on my top ten list, but it seems to have momentum and energy. The rules are fairly easy, but sophisticated enough to appeal to miniatures gamers, not the collectible minis crowd. I've read the new Confrontation rules will be similar.
Cold would include Privateer Press with their Hordes releases. Hordes is much less popular than Warmachine and our new league attendance is down by a third. Hordes doesn't sell poorly, just not as well. There remains a collective yawn when it comes to Flames of War late war releases. We've seen a blip in sales for Warhammer Fantasy, since we're starting up the new league.

Board Games. Part of our stock build-up has been getting all the board games on my wish list, notably all of the top rated boardgamegeek games. We now have over 500 board games.
Hot would be Battlelore expansions. Turning a board game into a miniatures game was a brilliant idea. Also on the hot list: Hive, Wings of War: Dawn of War, Infernal Contraption (card game) and tried and true games like Power Grid and Settlers of Catan. People eagerly await the last Killer Bunnies expansion.
Cold would be Zooloretto, which won the boardgame of the year award in Germany. I've played it. It's good. Get one. It's a light game. I picked up a bunch of interesting (I think) old-style kids games at the Game Expo that have seen no love. Kids board and card games in general are hard to sell, mostly because kids are too busy nowadays, but also because I don't know as many of them (yet).

Collectible Miniature Games. These have been disappointing of late. Wizards of the Coast owns this market and their Star Wars and D&D minis line saw weaker than usual releases. I think we sold a total of 6 Heroclix booster packs, so there's no love there either.
Hot would have been Axis & Allies War at Sea if it had been available this Summer. It's back this week, but the thrill is gone.
Cold is well, just about everything else. Star Wars Alliance & Empires suffered from line extension -- is there anything actually new in this set? The Night Below D&D release lacked enough must-have monsters. Single sales were down and case sales were very slow. I'm told the distribution was very good with the cases, which may have slowed sales of the release. That's good for the customer. Heroclix is now a token game that we stock very lightly, about four boosters is a safe number. We tried organized play all last Summer, but it did little good. The local comic book store sells cases, but we've seen declining sales over the last several releases. We used to order several cases and now we're down to half a dozen boosters. Put a fork in it.

Looking back over the list, you might think things are pretty bad, but actually our sales are up substantially for the Summer. There's never been a better time to be a gamer. There are more options now than ever before, which is part of the problem with keeping up as a retailer. If there's something hot I missed, please let me know.


  1. I am hoping you plan to have some Warmachine/Hordes games on Saturdays.




  2. The terrain tables are open on Saturday afternoons, so it's a possibility, but probably not as a "structured" event.

  3. Glad to hear Spirit is a hit at your store, man!

  4. It is SO interesting what 15 or so miles difference can make. Our hot and cold list is miles apart.

  5. I'm glad you mentioned that. Game stores are local phenomena. It's all about the players within 10 minutes drive time of your store. A couple local gaming groups is all it takes to make a product line thrive, or when they switch games or stop playing, dry up and blow away in the wind.

    Sharing information is fun and interesting, but it's hardly guarded proprietary data. I have stores that thank me for posting my Top 10 list on my website, but they would be a bit foolish to somehow see it as a guide of some sort.

    That said, whenever I hear a podcast or read a review or store testimonial about a hot game, it does make me pause and consider if I gave it a fair chance.

    I've also learned that success with a game is often about the store owner or manager pushing or playing that game extensively.

  6. "I've also learned that success with a game is often about the store owner or manager pushing or playing that game extensively."

    Amen brother!

    best -