I'm starting to feel a little pressure from the local gaming community to bring them something new. Gaming podcasts have replaced local competitors in providing new gaming information and play tests, with several of my alpha gamers wondering how the store goes about introducing such new games. While the alpha gamers itch for something different, I'm stuck with that "flight to quality," in which my sales of fringe games dry up in favor of safer choices. Our Magic and D&D crowds have never been larger and the 40K group is growing. Alpha players want something new, but they might have difficulty finding anyone to play with.
The evolution towards what's new is organic and it's not entirely dependent on me. A Blood Bowl league developed in the store on its own. Other stores in the area have seen other inexpensive and quick skirmish games increase in popularity, such as Mordheim and a game called Alkemy. Alkemy is a fantasy skirmish game with beautiful models based on various real-world cultures. There are Egyptian, Native American (sorta), Chinese, and straight up medieval Europeans. I have the starter boxes on order so those interested can give it a spin. I'm really liking the unique sculpts.
Warhammer Fantasy has seen some renewed interest, so some new things are old things. I think 2009 will be the year we see Warhammer Fantasy take off at our store. It's not especially new and doesn't require a big investment from me, but it may be a solution to the desire for newness.
There seems to be renewed interest in historical miniatures, with various individual customers putting out their feelers in different directions. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing any critical mass towards one game and Flames of War, our current historical option, remains stagnant.
Notice that all this interest in something new is coming from the miniatures gaming crowd. The RPG crowd has gravitated strongly to D&D and the CCG crowd is mostly Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh, while the board game crowd is overwhelmed with new choices; probably too many. The miniatures crowds, however, seem to have a natural desire to mix it up on ocassion, something Games Workshop understands well, which is why they created their specialist games. They intend for their base to dabble in these games to refresh themselves before returning to the main games. This is something role-players do too, mostly taking a break from D&D, but there seems to be less acceptance of the concept and more gnashing of teeth when the "break game" ends.
Our crowd of anxious minis players is increasingly comprised of Warmachine players. Although that group continues to grow for us, there's a dissatisfaction or fatigue with the game that has driving players towards Warhammer Fantasy and other games. I'm hoping players in our Warmachine group can take a break with another game for a while, as opposed to seeing them slowly drift away down to nothing, like has happened at other local game stores. As a store owner, Warmachine and Hordes are problem games, as the skus (items) continue to arrive every couple of weeks, with no discontinuation of existing models. The warnings I received about 40K inventory creep are now more apt for Privateer Press.