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"Sad Demise" Topic


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1,963 hits since 25 Aug 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Aug 2017 12:49 a.m. PST

There have been about 4 closures of wargames businesses recently. This, i feel, is a real same for our hobby. Of course businesses fail and new ones appear in all avenues of endeavour. If these quality businesses cannot make it work despite putting their heart into it what might have been done to allow them to carry on?
Are we not prepared to pay market prices, are there too many companies, too many products, too many hobby directions, lack of hobby spending in personal budgets or what?

It is saddest when people lose their jobs and non limited companies lose their money/dream.
Anyway, a big thank you to those who create businesses and ideas in the hobby. Have a break, pick yourself up and go into the firing line again, it is not over yet!


martin

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2017 1:13 a.m. PST

I don't know the companies involved so my next comment isn't directed at anyone in specific.

The fact of the matter is that very few people will have all the skills necessary to run a business long term. So, even when all the other stars and planets are in alignment (loyal customers, good product, strong demand, great staff, amazing marketing tools, etc.) there will always be a few who will lack appropriate starting capital, basic business-sense or some other vital ingredient.

Not every business makes it, and it doesn't mean that the person didn't have the best intentions at heart, or that they planned for the venture to fail all along. It just happens to some.

Dan

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2017 1:47 a.m. PST

Martin I think this is a case of "all of the above". There are so many companies vying for a finite market, each one selling a "unique" take on a historical/fantasy/sci-fi setting. Then as CC says there may be underfunding, I've heard that you should not expect to make money at first even up to several years. Sad to see good people fail at a task that is dear to their hearts as I suspect that most gaming companies are run by gamers but it is the nature of the beast.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Aug 2017 4:06 a.m. PST

Agreed. Very sad though. In the "olden" days it was rare because there were so few. I used to buy Warrior, Hinchllffe and minifigs for year after year. Nothing too exciting as far as releases But then no quick releases were ever expected.

Mitochondria Inactive Member26 Aug 2017 4:32 a.m. PST

The saddest part is the Bleeped text companies are doing just fine.

The ones who sue over the IP that they themselves ripped off, the price gougers, the endless edition revisionists, the ones who write Bleeped text rules, they continue to flourish.

Whirlwind26 Aug 2017 4:39 a.m. PST

Are we not prepared to pay market prices … lack of hobby spending in personal budgets or what?

I'd be a bit surprised if it were either of these two reasons. Miniature gamers spend a lot of money and it seems that a fairly large proportion on stuff that is never used for an actual game! It would be difficult to imagine that the solution would be for gamers to spend yet more money on stuff to keep in cupboards.

If market prices were the issue, you'd expect a different pattern of closures. Historical miniatures, which generally sell for much less than fantasy miniatures, would be more at risk; but we don't see that.

whitphoto Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2017 5:13 a.m. PST

Most small businesses fail. Why should wargaming be different? Frankly I'm surprised MORE wargaming companies don't fail sooner than they do. You're talking about small businesses selling to other small businesses (local game stores) which rely on disposable income. Most of the game stores I go to will only carry the big games, afraid to make an investment in any smaller games and not sell. There have been several games I've wanted to try but couldn't find any players, mostly because no store will carry the game!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2017 5:21 a.m. PST

You know, the search for uniqueness is part of the problem. The fantasy/SF business seeks a culture or race no one else has. The historical manufacturer looks for a scale or period no one else has. If it catches on, they have a captive clientele. But lots of wargamers have to walk off a cliff in faith, buying figures in the hope that the range will someday be complete enough to game, that they can find opponents and the system will continue to be supported. But even without that, young businesses have a high attrition rate, and you can be a really good sculptor, rule-writer or terrain-maker without knowing anything about how to run a business. This may not be fixable.

I suspect a related problem--and what helps grow the silver mountains--is that the time necessary to buy, paint and base a table-top's worth of troops is substantially longer than many wargamers' attention spans. Not sure how to fix that one, either.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Aug 2017 7:09 a.m. PST

There are a tremendous number of challenges in making a go as a figure/game manufacturer beyond the normal business environment.

For one, you are competing with a LOT of companies that are not expected to make a significant profit. How many times have we seen a new range started because the owner just wanted to, not because it would really "sell?" How many ranges out there are part time, labors of love where so long as they break even the owner is happy?

I suspect, too, if you looked at most full time gaming companies you'd see a *terrible* investment. Capital intensive, limited market and growth opportunities, largely immune to economies of scale, and under threat from 3D printing, etc. If these companies were normal stocks you'd look at them and say: high risk, low returns, near certainty of death? Where do I sign up?

Uniqueness is not, in my mind, a problem. You do not look for what no one else has. There's a reason for that. If you want to make ancients in 15mm start with Romans. BattleModels did. Everyone said "good gravy do we need *another* range of 15mm Roamns?" They were my best seller from their ancients, by 2:1. Baueda have some interesting and unique 15mm Dark Ages figures. They also introduced 15mm Romans. The Romans outsell the other ranges by at least 2:1. Ditto for WW2: make Tigers, Panthers, Pumas and '88s. Don't bother with those Hungarian armored cars.

15mm Spanish Civil War has limited available ranges. I have two: QRF and BattleModels. Very, very slow sellers. There's a reason there are not more competing ranges. Ditto 15mm Vietnam.

Timmo uk26 Aug 2017 10:32 a.m. PST

As Whirlwind writes, I'm always amazed at the amount of cash spent on stuff that never even gets painted or played with. However, since that is part an parcel of the hobby it's perhaps keeping some companies in business. If the wargames hobbyists decided on masse to stop being hunter gathers and stayed at home to paint what they had in stock, I suspect we'd see even more companies stop trading.

I think Alan Perry wrote that they sell 25,000 figures a month. I was astonished by that. About five times more than I expected. Where are they all going?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian26 Aug 2017 12:24 p.m. PST

Note that none of these companies were TMP advertisers.

A little more advertising budget might have been enough to save these companies, but I'm sure the problem is more complex than that.

jdpintex26 Aug 2017 4:26 p.m. PST

They may not advertise on TMP, but Tango would never let us miss their new releases. He does better news than TMP News Section

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian26 Aug 2017 5:12 p.m. PST

Apparently, it's not the same! grin

Spartan Games and I spoke back and forth about advertising over the years, they always seemed "on the verge" of doing it, then never committed.

RudyNelson26 Aug 2017 5:27 p.m. PST

Since I have been a store and part of the industry from 1983, I have seen many quality companies and distributors come and go over the decades.
More will fail due to various reasons. Gamers will continue to game even if their genre focus may change.

rmaker26 Aug 2017 8:46 p.m. PST

The average US small business lasts slightly less than three years (this does not count franchises).

Ottoathome27 Aug 2017 5:44 a.m. PST

Could it be that the manufacturers expect gamers to "buy into" a whole new unique universe/game system and attempt to lure them in with "All you need to play is 30 figures" are cutting their own throats? Then make the game incompatible with any other unique universe game?

Put out Naooleonic or Seven Years War figures and guys like me will buy em in truck-sized lots. No licenses needed for the 7 Years War. Historical miniature gamers by 30 to 300 of the same figure because we're nuts, both about the period and just plain nuts. Also we use them in huge units. We have armies not "factions."

Could it be that war gamers have the attention span of hamsters? We get hooked on a new unique/exclusive system, but three weeks later we get hooked on another, and so forth, and no one builds up the depth or interest for long?

Could it be that there are just not enough war gamers out there to support the manufacturers? Disposable income does not seem to be the problem. Gamers will sometimes spend the rent on their hobby.

My own bet is on the latter. I don't think there are more than 20,000 MINIATURE gamers of all strips in America. If you study groups of gamers you find that out of any 10 gamers only one or two have the huge collections, are the game masters for their group, and have the interest and stamina for dedicated collecting. That means you've got maybe 4,000 "big spenders."

One of the problems is that NO ONE has any better data than a mere guess.

It's not a problem in war games alone. When I was working at a medium sized electronics firm I asked marketing who was touting a new product "How many can you sell." They told me what shows they were going to and who they were contacting. I asked a more pointed question. "If you could sell this unit to everyone on the planet who COULD use it, how many would you sell.

They didn't know.

My answer to them was "then you have no right even to make the product!"

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2017 7:41 a.m. PST

I'm always amazed at the amount of cash spent on stuff that never even gets painted or played with"

Yes, this is the crux of the hobby at the moment and Ottoathome brings up some excellent points as well. There are the gamers who do spend money, paint up figs, and run games. They are the driving force behind the hobby, which is pretty small in comparison to other hobbies. However, there are quite a few gamers who buy pretty much anything that comes up, but you will rarely see it painted or gamed with. In my opinion they "artificially" keep some companies alive longer than they perhaps should be, therefore adding to the chaos of too many companies in the hobby, producing too many products, for too few gamers.

Ottoathome27 Aug 2017 11:06 a.m. PST

dear aeguscg47

Always remember what the guy from Nazareth said about "The spirit being willing but the flesh being weak." It's a natural human tendency. We wish to do something but time and circumstance mitigate against it constantly. Remember too that wargames is VERY unlike other hobbies and past times, which give you your instant gratification once you plunk down the cash. The closest hobby to War games, Model Railroading, offers to the novice ease of entry- by the toy (locomotive, car, structure) and plunk it down on your layout with a minimum of effort. Minis require a long time to paint and organize (I've been working on some units and projects for a decade) and many people don't have that stamina. ADD TO THIS that very often someone in their group already is "into" one of these new things and already is far along with it and the temptation is all too real to simply go "with what George already has" and put off doing your own stuff.

I also want to cast before you all another possibility.

When any of these special custom "universes" comes along with its own mythos, theories, and story line, newcomers approach it as a new adventure, an excursion into a "different" or an "other" that is unknown, challenging, a bit mystical and unexplored territory. Once you get into it and build it up yourself, the mystery is gone, and you enter it NOT as an adventurer but as another humdrum employee of the tour. It's the difference between going to Disneyland and working AT Disneyland. the loss of illusion, the loss of mystery may be too much for some.

One of my Ersatz grand daughters, (not my real grand daughter, but a daughter of a best friend) ate, slept, breathed, thought, loved, talked like and became besotted with Harry Potter. Once she worked in whatever place that is in Orlando that has that Harry Potter world, she became enraged at the lack of respect and reverence of the management. She quit. The reality of the experience imposed a mundaneness that was unbearable.

Wargamers are enormously fickle.

We already live in a fantasy world and I wonder if all these "closed universes" dreamt up by marketing departments are one fantasy universe too many.

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