Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Release Anxiety

As Gencon approaches, the new release cycle is gearing up. I've been warned to "strap in" for August, as the releases will be hot and heavy. As a store owner, we are new release driven. I wish it wasn't so, that we had a stable inventory of quality games with thousands of customers who wanted them. I wish it was 1985. In fact, we have about a thousand customers and we compete with other stores and most importantly, the Internet. With such stiff competition and so few customers, we're generally only profitable in months with a lot of new releases.

It's one of those ongoing oddities that customers have very different perspectives on new releases.There are two types that always strike me as odd. The first is the overwhelmed completist. This guy is exasperated at the pace of new releases. They just put out a version of that game!  Perhaps that release was five years ago or longer, but there is the sense that his gaming commitment requires that purchase and that he's being somehow coerced into buying. They make a lot of angry purchases, it seems.

At the fringe of the completist group are customers who will stop playing a game if they perceive the rate of new releases is too fast. One poster on boardgamegeek recently mentioned he would pass on the Battle of Westeros board game because there were many expansions planned for it. Really? You have so little self control that you can't buy this complete game and call it a day? The mere existence of more options is such a negative that they will dismiss it out of hand. Are there any real life analogies so strange? "Yeah, she asked me out for coffee, but I really don't want kids."

The second odd duck is the customer that requires new releases. They troll the Internet forums for clues about the next release for their game or news about the health of their preferred game company. "I hear Wizards of the Coast won't be re-printing the D&D core books!" they might announce, exasperated. These folks are gaming animists. They believe their game is a living, breathing organism, and if the company that produces it were to fail or if new releases are not forthcoming, their game is dead. They will actually call it that; dead.

Like the guy who can't abide the overwhelming quantity of new releases for his game, the animist will flee from their game if it has no forthcoming releases like it was a rotting corpse. "Yeah, I left her because we have four kids and she doesn't want any more." I have to wonder if this is a symptom of over consumption. Did I have a hand in this as a retailer? Are there simply too many games, too many options tailored for too many people?

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