Sunday, January 25, 2015

Just Not That Into You (Tradecraft)

I used to date this girl.

She would only go out with me on Wednesdays and Thursdays. She was seeing other guys on other nights of the week, so I got the crummy middle of the week time slots. It wasn't like she didn't like me. We had a fine time and she was a good kisser.

Eventually though, my mid week slots made me feel like I wasn't her prime event. She wouldn't give me additional time. I felt I was probably a mid week distraction from what really turned her on, whoever that was in those weekend slots. I could have just enjoyed what I had, but my annoyance with the situation only grew larger.

That's how many retailers are feeling right now. There's no big conspiracy, but there is a lot of shenanigans going on, once behind the scenes, but now right in our faces. Reduced discounts. Street dates unevenly enforced. Distributors selling directly to Amazon while orders to independent retailers go unfilled. Stock outages galore, with exclusives not helping, while the mass market appears to get priority stock.

Game trade, we know you kinda like us. You're metaphorical good kissers, but we also know we're not the main event. Many of us who run professional operations, those big enough to put our kids through college or allow us retirement plans, are looking around for other people to date. We're hoping to diversify, be it toys, coffee shops, or even other businesses. I used to think there weren't big chains of game stores because the business model didn't scale. Now I think it's just too damn discouraging to think about managing this day to day nonsense and hypocrisy at a grand scale.

How can I put this game trade? You're a hot mess. We love you and all, but you're the kind of gal who's laughing one minute and stabbing you in the face with cutlery the next.

This unstable relationship we have with you is no way to find love. If you think all your dates are losers, I would suggest it's because you like bad boys and drive away the smart ones. You've got some winners right in front of you, if you would only commit the time to an adult relationship.


  1. I agree 100 percent. Since small businesses that sell games have no unified organization we can't barter or have any real purchasing power. We can make a game take off but for the most part we are looked at as a launching pad. Wizkids are far more concerned with Target selling their products than local game stores. Right now collectible games such as Magic and Heroclixs are enjoying the boom in business and aren't concerned about small businesses. They are swimming in money. Once the bubble bursts though then they will care about every penny they can get. The kicker? It will be to late. The damage will have been done. Dice Masters AVX available at Target while I am unable to get more in? Why would I support that? Yeah, lets have AVX gaming events here for product you will have to get elsewhere.

  2. Isn't Magic very game store friendly?
    The recent drop in discount aside there are a lot of game store exclusives for stores that aren't offered to Walmart etc.
    They have also moved events like Pre releases and PPTQ's to the store level. Those are destination events that attract new customers for you.

  3. Wizards of the Coast is game store friendly, especially when compared to other publishers.

    Besides the recent drop in discount, which will cut about 4% off the bottom line for retailers, which is huge, they're also manipulating supply.

    They're manipulating supply of pre-release packs, stifling what's possible with those events, although I do like that it tends to put a floor on the price by increasing demand.

    They're also allocating D&D books to distributors, driving retailers to their direct sales, much like Games Workshop does. That's put us in a difficult position a couple of times, to where many a retailer has bought D&D books from bizarre, secondary sources like Amazon or third party websites.

    And finally, they're allowing big box retailers to break street dates, selling product early while we're told to sit on our hands. That's patently unfair, and possibly a violation of trade law, as game stores are punished for the same behavior.

    Yes, game stores get exclusives in limited quantities, which is always appreciated, although there's never enough to satisfy demand, which causes hard feelings with out customers. Is there room for improvement on all this? Definitely yes. I don't see them as a bad actor, just a company that needs to follow through on their promises (and threats). WizKids doesn't seem to have a problem coming down on big box retailers.

  4. First, I really enjoy this analogy.

    Second. I see a lot of chatter, especially in the past 6 months, about the need for a retailer only trade organization in this industry. I don't think many retailers would say they have benefited very much from their GAMA membership. Do you think there is any chance of somebody stepping up and trying to actually head up that type of organization? I for one would jump to be a part of it, but certainly don't feel qualified to start it.

  5. Yea, I'm in those groups, I've seen Pats name come up numerous times in regards to a trade group. I've only been in the business about 4 years, how long ago did Pat attempt it & do you know anything about why it didn't stick?

  6. It's discussed all the time on the game retailer Facebook forums. It was tried before by Pat Fuge. I think it's probably a good time to try again. However, it takes someone willing to reach out and administer such a thing. I don't know who that is (it ain't me).