March 18, 2016 at 1:51 pm #11892
Not sure how much you guys follow the news in the board game industry but recently one of the main guys for Asmodee & Fantasy Flight Games has been talking a lot about the new pricing changes for all Asmodee Group games. Asmodee is the largest game publisher in the world and includes all of Fantasy Flight Games and many other super popular games such as Catan, Ticket to Ride, and 7 Wonders.
Starting April 1st there will be new selling restrictions in-place for game stores that will essentially result in higher prices for all AG published games. Here is a short excerpt from the summary I linked at the top of this post:
“He thinks that consumers should be buying games at a higher price, that board games should be a luxury item that people commit to and invest in, and has said he’d rather people buy one or two FFG products at a higher price point than a glut of them at a discount.”
The link at the top of the post contains the summary of his interviews with Board Game Geek and The Dice Tower from a recent con (with the video links at the bottom).
All in all it seems like a terrible change for us gamers. Asmodee doesn’t like how consumers are purchasing their products and are trying to force us to behave how they would prefer.
Thoughts?March 18, 2016 at 8:33 pm #11893
Retailers have to choose if they are online, or brick and mortar? That’s weird and going to force brick and mortar to shut down.
People with jobs don’t have time to visit the local store on a regular basis, but they do have time to shop online.
My local game store is basically the warehouse and you can browse around, but most of his business in done online.
I make impulse buys in store, but online I normally know what I’m looking for.
As for the ‘buying games to sell’… That’s ridiculous. Only time I hear about that is with kickstarter where people buy extra to sell the exclusives.
I don’t own anyhting by Asmodee, but own a lot by FFG and they love their expansions, but if they push the prices too high, I will buy less or none.
But apparently that’s what they want…
Guess I’ll just have to buy more Kickstarter games, buy from other companies, or pick them up second hand on eBay.March 19, 2016 at 9:30 pm #11894
Here’s what happens when you’re the 800-pound gorilla in the room: you turn into GW. 🙁
Not that I buy a lot of Asmodee Games… but for sure, FFG.March 20, 2016 at 4:48 am #11895
I believe that brick-and-mortar game stores need to change their focus or they will end up dying out to the online stores. Game stores need to focus creating a ‘community’ environment that makes me want to go to the store to hang out. Tabletop gaming is inherently a social activity and these stores can thrive as hubs for meeting and playing. All of the best game stores I know provide ample table space, terrain to use, WiFi, and snack bars. I go to these places with the intention of hanging out and playing but inevitably after spending a few hours in a store I end up buying something. They will never be my primary method of purchasing games but they definitely can still operate successfully.
The best game store near me doesn’t even sell board games or tabletop games. They actually were originally a coffee shop/bistro that ended up turning into a local gaming hangout. I spend 20-30$ buying food and drinks there while gaming with friends. Stores need to make me want to go hang out there and the truth is that the majority of game shops are very unwelcoming.
I stopped by one a few weeks ago that was so poorly lit I thought I was in a cave. The workers were all huddled in a corner looking over MTG cards and actually got mad when I asked if they had a game I wanted. Needless to say, I have no desire to return.March 23, 2016 at 4:13 am #11896
Perhaps I can add to this topic. I was at that trade show. And I actually think it’s important to point out that this was a Trade Show for retailers, not a “con”. I think the distinction is important to have proper context for the conversations that occurred there.
I’m in the planning stages of opening up a board game cafe, so a business contact suggested I attend this show. It was very helpful and gave me a lot of insight into how a lot of people in the games industry think. And believe me, this exact topic was discussed a HUGE amount throughout the week-long gathering.
A great number of people, including reps from other publishers, expressed uncertainty toward this initiative. The rep from Iello for example stated their company is going to study the results of this program because they too are in the process of designing a program to achieve essentially the same goal. He’s just “not sure if this is the best way to go about it.”
But one theme was constant among everyone. That is, “hugely discounted online sales have devalued and commoditized a great portion of the hobby games industry, hurting brick and mortar hobby shops and manufacturers alike. How do we stop this?”
I’ll sum it up the best I can and then do my best to address any questions.
The relevant portion of the video – https://youtu.be/WEZLeI1Ykng?t=9707
The problem. Online retailers such as Amazon – and equally important, brick and mortar retailers selling third-party THROUGH Amazon (Not Amazon proper) – are driving down the cost of games to unsustainable levels for both publishers and brick and mortar retailers. There were many claims that a lot of this is due to “bots” seeing a discounted price somewhere, then dropping the price on their site to beat it. That process repeats many times over, back and forth, until the price is so low it’s difficult for anyone to make any profit from the sale. In many cases, games are selling for barely above wholesale cost. Consumers love this. Brick and Mortar stores cannot survive this.
Key to this problem, according to Asmodee, is that online retailers and brick and mortar stores currently sign the same agreement to sell Asmodee’s products. Part of this agreement includes the price at which these parties agree to purchase games FROM Asmodee and Asmodee’s distributors. This is called the “retailer discount” or “wholesale price.” This program, as stated at least, will provide a better wholesale price to brick and mortar retailers than to online retailers. This, in theory, will be enough of a difference to prevent online stores from being able to discount the product to unsustainable prices. The hope is this will stabilize the price of products and adjust the consumer’s perception of what that product is worth. [emphasis added] Everyone was assured at the show that prices would not increase. The goal is simply to bring them back up where they belong. Online retailers will still sell Asmodee NA games. They just won’t be able to do so at such a huge discount. At least….that’s what we were told.
Many consumers balk at the price tags in their FLGS because their perception of what the product SHOULD sell for has been altered by online retailers. In many cases – I have a few stores near me this applies to – the FLGS is selling for ABOVE retail. This is not OK. But often times, a store cannot move product AT retail price because Amazon has it for 40% cheaper. Many people believe the stores selling ABOVE retail are doing so in an attempt to make up for the lost sales to Amazon’s discounts. Obviously, this doesn’t really work for most people. There are the occasional “local loyalists”, but they cannot buy enough to keep a store going.
Brick and mortar retailers, in theory, provide a different level of service than online retailers. Asmodee has taken the position that it wants to grow brick and mortar, grow gaming as a community, and it’s hoping that giving the brick and mortars a better discount price will do that. Amazon can give you reviews of product, but can you meet up with friends to hang out, play, and discuss new games, old games and everything in between? Game stores HAVE TO provide some reason, other than price, to draw customers in. Many try. Most in my experience don’t.
Many of the stores around me provide shit service and are not desirable places for me to spend my time. My wife will go “inside” with me if it’s dark outside and she doesn’t want to sit in the car…that’s about it. This is one of the factors that led to me wanting to open my own business. We NEED a good place to go and play games, to take our friends and family who might not be “core gamers”, where community is key and MTG cliches take a back seat to growing the hobby and sharing our love of games with others. Many of the store owners at the trade show expressed that same sentiment, but are greatly conflicted between that dream and the reality of shifting much of their focus toward pushing product out the back door through third party online sales just to keep the lights on.
Now, we have to consider the other side of this, right? If Asmodee controls the prices and avenues of sale, can’t they do anything they want? I spoke to one retailer who was quite displeased because Asmodee has already started tweaking the discount price across their various publishers. They’ve made the price better for FFG products (Descent, Star Wars, Netrunner), but worse for Asmodee products (Takenoko, 7 Wonders). FFG is a good brand, and you might say “well, better price for FFG is cool. It sells like hotcakes.” That’s true, but not for everyone. This particular retailer told me they rarely ever sell FFG products. They’re more of a family store, and taking a hit on Asmodee games has dug into their bottom line significantly.
We also have to consider price creep. Once the consumer’s “perception of value” is “stabilized” can we trust Asmodee NA to keep prices reasonable? Unfortunately only time will tell there.
Consumers might not be thrilled about it now, but I’m confident based on many of the presentations I saw that this, or something like this, is going to become more the norm than the exception in the coming years. Almost every publisher and manufacturer at this show expressed similar concerns toward what online discounting is doing to their product lines, not just for brick and mortar implications, but because it affects their business as well. If consumers will only pay half price for a game, how many new, exciting, risky, fancy component filled games do you think they’ll continue to produce?
Of course, the cynical side of me is just sitting here thinking, “well, couldn’t the current prices be responsible for the current boom in gaming culture and popularity?” “Well, isn’t this just the publishers seeing a spike in interest of their games and just trying to milk it for as much as it’s worth while they can?” <shrug>
Any questions? 🙂
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