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"Hobby Game Industry 2007 Predictions" Topic


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1,593 hits since 14 Jan 2007
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Mooseworks814 Jan 2007 9:26 p.m. PST

Has anyone read this? Seems to be well thought out.
link

mweaver14 Jan 2007 10:12 p.m. PST

There was a thread on this blog a few days back, Wargamer, although I can't find it at the moment.

mweaver14 Jan 2007 10:12 p.m. PST

Ah, here:

TMP link

DontFearDareaper Fezian14 Jan 2007 11:55 p.m. PST

Didn't he put out a doom and gloom prediction last year?!?

Dave

Personal logo mmitchell Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Jan 2007 3:07 a.m. PST

I think some of his predictions are right on the mark. Although, I must admit, I'm ot quite as gloomy as he is…

Hrothgar Returns15 Jan 2007 7:33 a.m. PST

Oh?
I read this and realized he is talking mostly about more mainstream games, as opposed to general wargaming.
This would have ZERO effect on me since I game mostly historical and am "old fashioned" in that I am not at all attracted to GW/WOC/etc products.

In some ways it will be good for you guys to have the big dogs brought down. More room for independent and cottage gaming.

Rattlehead15 Jan 2007 9:43 a.m. PST

Ya know what that article reminds me of? The timeline in the old Twilight: 2000 RPG. Seriously, it felt exactly the same to read…

After thinking about it, I think this is why:

1 – It's incredibly pessimistic. Pessimistic to the point of absurdity. It's as if Murphy's Law became the dominant force of the universe, edging out gravity and the rest…

2 – Quite a bit of it requires a lot of dominoes to fall a certain way. I suppose that's the nature of "What If?" discussions. The more detail you include and the farther into the future you project, the more precarious the house of cards becomes.

3 – It fits a predefined outcome. You get the feeling that the author has already decided what the end of the story is and is just putting together the paths that add up to that end. In the case of Twilight: 2000, that end was total war that grinds down to stalemate under attrition. In this case, the end of the story is apparently the total collapse of the RPG industry.

Now, having said all that, I think I should elaborate on what I think of the article's content…

I'm not saying that some of these predictions can't come to pass. Heck, several of them could. But, I really don't think many of them will, if any. Further, any of those predictions that come to pass are unlikely to be as catastrophic as outlined there.

Aside from that, this article is of limited scope. It opens with a statement that it essentially covers all "hobby gaming" but then it ignores everything exept for the big RPG publishers.

The truth is, this industry has always been driven largely by small companies that break the mold. In part, there's just not a large enough market to support a lot of large companies, but also consider that the nature of the hobby is such that it lends itself well to the "cottage industry" sort. It's about creativity, imagination and talent, not huge volumes of retail goods sold. Some of the most well-regarded companies in this industry are small companies that aren't breaking any records for sales. But their owners and operators love what they do and they do it well!

But what is most telling about this article is the overwhelming pessimism. The simple truth is, a free market can sometimes be a tough place. However, as long as there are people who want to play these games (RPGs, Wargames, etc.) there will be a demand. And as long as there's a demand, there will be enterprising individuals and companies trying to supply that demand.

Sorry, but I believe that as long as you provide a product that people want, price it fairly and make it available, people will buy it. Treat the customer right, give them what they want/need, make sure they're happy – and you'll prosper. You won't get rich, but you'll stay afloat.

Sometimes what people want isn't the same as what you think they want. This is the pitfall of many companies in the gaming industry. But, if you listen to them, they'll tell you!

Bottom line: The demise of the games industry has been foretold how many times now? Business, particularly THIS business, is the realm of optimism. Take care of your customers and the rest is gravy.

Personal logo Tyrel Lohr Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Jan 2007 11:33 a.m. PST

The thing that has bothered me in discussions of the failure or retail gaming stores (which, being from Wyoming, I've only ever seen one in my life) and the animosity they have towards online deep-discount stores is why the retail stores fail to adapt to the changing marketplace?

If their customers are abandoning simply because of price points, what is to keep from the store from turning itself into a glorified catalog store -- offer similar discounts as the deep-discount places (equivalent of the discount + shipping) and allow customers to come in and order the games through you. Take their money, have set order dates during the week (maybe also at certain inventory order thresholds), and go from there.

As for the industry imploding, I don't think that this is so much a case of the industry as a whole collapsing but a sign of a transition away from the current retailer/distributor model. I firmly believe that electronic/PDF distribution of product is the future for traditional printed materials. I know my buying habit is usually to buy an electronic copy of the rules and see if it is something that I would actually want to read/play, and then I go back online and find where I can buy a hardcopy version to reference at the gaming table.

-Tyrel

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2007 11:55 a.m. PST

I know my buying habit is usually to buy an electronic copy of the rules and see if it is something that I would actually want to read/play, and then I go back online and find where I can buy a hardcopy version to reference at the gaming table. >>

This shows that you like to see what you are buying before you "buy". A common trait of the demographics that support a brick and mortar store.

<<The thing that has bothered me in discussions of the failure or retail gaming stores (which, being from Wyoming, I've only ever seen one in my life) and the animosity they have towards online deep-discount stores is why the retail stores fail to adapt to the changing marketplace?>>

Because the margins are too slim. B+M stores have rent, utilities, wages, taxes, etc. to pay and if they begin to drop prices to compete with the likes of someone operating out of their house, they simply cannot sustain the volume required to make up for the difference. (Have been part owner of Attactix since we opened in 1993, so I do know a bit about this subject.)

It doesn't help the B+M stores when :

1. They must make minimum orders to stock many product lines which can only be obtained direct from the manufacturer.

2. Modern trends where the mafgr offers 40% discounts direct to consumers. (And 60 % to the dealer-less money for the retailer to pay bills with for they have to match the 40% discount to keep customers….again, from experience…sales dropped when customers could get the product faster and cheaper going direct.)

3. Distributors not carrying "other" choices of lines due to the size of the lines that should be stocked. They fell (and probably justly)that they can make more money on stocking more of the mainstream items/companies. Remember, all buisnesses are in buisness to make money.

I see all this as a downward sprial where one will be able to purchase the mainstream goods (within reason) locally, but if you want a pack of, say, 15mm ACW, you will be forced to either stick with what you can get or order, direct from the manufacturers because they are the only ones that have what you want/need.

To some extent, the large population centers in the USA that have frequent conventions, have spelled the deathknoll for historical minis. Customers would go to the stores to "see" a company's offerings, but purchase them at the cons. This resukted in the local stores dropping those lines due to low sales. The gamer loses a local source because of this and blames "X" for the situation.

Until the collective "we" understand what it takes to have a local store support our needs, and act accordingly, I see more stores going by the way of the do-do and an increase in on-line/mail orders.

While a retail store cannot possibly stock it all, they need to have at least SOME stock on the walls, to cater for the impulse sales. My advice to any retailers reading this is to stick to the basic "meat and potatoes" SKUs and offer to special order (when restocking) the rest. Inventory control remains manageable while remaining empowered to better serve their customers.

Best,
Tom Dye
GFI/Attactix

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2007 12:01 p.m. PST

This is "psychic" level stuff. The writer speaks with too much confidence of late year events that currently have no visible precursors. "Hasbro will up and to this…" Why? And why not something else?

What I don't get in these doom-and-gloom predictions is what's expected to happen to gamers? There are X gamers out there (3 million?) who will spend some money ($500 each?), so the money will go somewhere. Sure, if *all* the games are bad they might go to the movies more often and spend only $300, but if a lot of games are good they might spend $1,000. USD If the RPGs stink and the WoW card game is so wonderful, maybe they'll spend more time with that. If new releases stink maybe we'll get fewer gamers this year, and contrariwise if the opposite. But the gamers are there, and we're not going to quit gaming, en masse, to spend all our money on tatoos, Polly Pocket, and cook books just because game publishers act like morons for a year.

The gamers are there, unless something sociological happens. If the internet was going to kill gaming, it would have happened by now. The gamers have money, failing an overall economic collapse. The gamers will spend their money, give or take. If companies produce trash they will suffer, but gamers are a creative bunch, half of them want to be game designers and go into the business, and these will have fertile ground if the established players all go stupid at once.

The barriers to entry have never been lower. Sheesh, we're being offered a home-operable plastic injection machine on the front page of TMP today. Lots of people want to get into the business, its easier than ever to get into the business, if the current game-makers all tank a hundred new companies will spring up, and some of them will make great games. The smaller companies will depend more on the hobby game stores and less on distributors, marketing, and mass channels, so the faltering of the latter will only encourage the game stores, bringing more growth to the hobby.

I'm not saying we're indestructible. I'm saying while we're standing here with dollars in our hands saying, "show me some games, I want to buy something," there will be someone there to sell.

Sheesh.

"Some suits will make some irrational choices resulting in catastrophic consequences and everything you love will evaporate!" Give me a break!

Andrew

rmaker15 Jan 2007 12:21 p.m. PST

Ryan Dancey is to RPG's what Greg Costikyan is to board wargames. Both are forever postulating the collapse of their chosen gaming segment. Neither has been right yet. Greg is at least intelligent and interesting to talk to, if misguided. Ryan is just an idiot.

Some of his statements are just stupid.

"White Wolf was once the shining hope of the industry."

Oh? to whom? WW was always just a rich kid's toy. It broke and he threw it out.

rmaker15 Jan 2007 12:25 p.m. PST

To continue (hit Submit when I meant to switch browser instance).

" It is very possible that Hasbro or Mattel will buy a hobby gaming company"

Uh, Ryan, Hasbro already owns Wizards of the Coast AND Avalon Hill. They don't need to buy another company.

DJCoaltrain15 Jan 2007 1:40 p.m. PST

My primary hobbies are historical miniatures gaming and model railroading. They have the merit of being based upon history and not the latest fad/fancy/whimsy.

Most of the support/accessories materiel for historical miniatures is gleaned from other crafts/hobbies.

In historical miniatures gaming, Jacobites will always be Jacobites, the 95th Rifles will always be the 95th rifles. The regiment of Horse Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard molded in 1987 is still a regiment of the Horse Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard. The soap-opera business model used by too many vendors lacks a sound external foundation and mitigates against continuance and to a great degree permanence.

The advantage of historical miniatures gaming is its antecedents, which are quite different from BGs, CCGs, and RPGs. The latter three can quite readily be replaced by computer games. The essential qualities of historical gaming are historical research, painting, and handling the toy soldiers. It's an intellectual, creative, academic, visual, artistic, and tactile hobby. Those essentials cannot be simulated nor reproduced by a computer. Well, at least not yet.

Historical miniatures gaming is fundamentally a cottage industry and fairly well insulated from the woes of catering to the big box retailers or mass-market. I'd assert that HMG will weather the doom and gloom much better than the other branches of TGWAG. The HMG network is more formidable and also quite collegial, all things considered.

5oclockcharlie15 Jan 2007 3:08 p.m. PST

'The essential qualities of historical gaming are historical research, painting, and handling the toy soldiers. It's an intellectual, creative, academic, visual, artistic, and tactile hobby.'

Bravo!
I can't fault your logic! – I always wondered why I liked Historical gaming. :-)

DJCoaltrain15 Jan 2007 4:13 p.m. PST

BTW – I'm not denigrating the other parts of the hobby. I have a nice collection of board games and historical CCGs from Columbia Games. My assertion is that HMG will weather the doom and gloom storm slightly better.

Gunslinger15 Jan 2007 5:07 p.m. PST

" It is very possible that Hasbro or Mattel will buy a hobby gaming company"

Uh, Ryan, Hasbro already owns Wizards of the Coast AND Avalon Hill. They don't need to buy another company.

@ rmaker

WoTC & Avalon Hill are not hobby gaming companies. They are gaming companies. "Hobby" gaming companies are defined as those which provide a product that has to be collected then undergo building or preparation before use.

Basically what he is predicting is that Hasbro or Mattel will buy a major miniature gaming company. Don't know if that is true, but I think that is what he implies.

@ DJCoaltrain

I totally agree that HMG will survive as well. Not saying I agree with all of his predictions, but the gaming industry is in decline overall I think. HMG will survive because it is a niche hobby provided for by smaller companies. Essentially its survival is assured by it not being mainstream. There will always be a certain population of HMG'ers out there faithfully spurring on the hobby. I'm happy to be a part of it.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2007 5:13 p.m. PST

Maybe if CCGs and RPGs collapse millions of teenagers will flock to historical miniatures as the only alternative.

I, too, enjoy the occasional RPG, and have nothing against these other forms of gaming, except for their faddishness, transience, and unending fascination with bland fantasy settigns.

Andrew

RudyNelson15 Jan 2007 6:01 p.m. PST

Ryan's predictions can be made by anyone. Those that he made deal with companies whose products , I do not stock. OS no impact on my 95% historical company.

I can make predictions like his and have about as much success at the predictions. Sounds like a like full of his own opinion and want other companies to hire him as a consultant. And if they do not then they are losers and on his hit list.

krazygit15 Jan 2007 6:07 p.m. PST

Ok my 2 cents here on the whole "The internet is going to kill the B & M's". BULL. Internet porn has not killed off the adult video stores has it? Obviously the video stores are doing somthing right to compete with the internet discounters, Heck they even have to compete with people who give it away free on the net. FLGS's will just have to adapt and overcome. Oh well that's my 2 cents.

Krazygit

Gunslinger15 Jan 2007 7:19 p.m. PST

@ Krazygit

Yeah, you are right! Online book stores haven't hurt B&M Book storea, same with online shoe sales and shoe stores.

You are really on to something…

Just kidding. There is hardly a comparison between the porn industry and the gaming industry.

krazygit15 Jan 2007 9:13 p.m. PST

Sure in a very loose sense there is a comparison. My argument was strictly about B&M stores facing strong competion from internet discounters. Ault video B&M stores are still around even though the clientel of those places can get the same stuff cheaper on the net. With a FLGS I still shop there even though I can hop online and buy my miniture fix for cheaper. Mostly I'm just tired of everybody saying that online sales are killing off the B&M stores.

Gunslinger15 Jan 2007 10:37 p.m. PST

Actually they aren't. There are very few strictly adult video stores. Generally they diversify into adult toys, magazines, and adult party supplies. They also have a much wider appeal these days than gaming stores. They have regulars and then have the party planning, bachelorette party supply types.

You don't get a lot of walk in or transient customers at a game store. Keep in mind that running a game store is not like running a shoe store or an adult video store. It is more comparable to running a tavern. Why? Because generally your regulars come to the store to hang out. I would venture to guess that very few shoe buyers spend 6-8 hours in their favorite shoe store on a Saturday. While you may spend 6-8 hours at your favorite adult video store on Saturdays, it certainly isn't to meet like minded individuals to hang out with and watch adult videos.

I think there are cases where online purchasing does and has hurt B&M stores. I think it does hurt them when online sellers discount products that are carried in stores. Aside form discounting product being a poor business plan, it is also bad for the hobby as it undermines what customers believe products are worth if all these online stores can afford to sell the product at 20% less, than that $20 USD book must only be worth $16. USD

If you discount your products by 10%, you must sell 40% more product to make up the same profit.

I buy from online sellers all the time, and rarely get a discount. Now I don't buy GW and such so I don't know who the big discounters are. I try to limit my purchases to items I can't get locally, or that would take longer to order locally. For the most part though, if my store carries it I will buy it there.

I think what is really hurting B&M stores, and as a former owner I think this is accurate, is that a store front has a limit to its inventory capacity. The internet is limitless. It is just a matter of logistics. A gamer with varied interests can find anything he wants or needs on the internet, whereas he may only be able to find 30% of what he needs at his FLGS. This doesn't mean his FLGS is slacking or lacking, but might mean he games in eccentric circles and doesn't play in the main stream.

I think stores have to find a delicate balance. If they can sell online they should, although there is a huge argument that the internet is now flooded with stores and a new one would get lost. They should not discount their products and should provide strong customer service and an inviting atmosphere that makes people want to come hang out and buy stuff.

GypsyComet15 Jan 2007 10:52 p.m. PST

There are very few strictly adult video stores. Generally they diversify into adult toys, magazines, and adult party supplies. They also have a much wider appeal these days than gaming stores.

Snerk. So there are more people into sex than gaming? Who'd a thunk it?

krazygit15 Jan 2007 11:20 p.m. PST

"I think stores have to find a delicate balance. If they can sell online they should, although there is a huge argument that the internet is now flooded with stores and a new one would get lost. They should not discount their products and should provide strong customer service and an inviting atmosphere that makes people want to come hang out and buy stuff."

100% agree with you on this. I wasn't comparing the differences between I was just pointing out that B&M's can survive with stiff internet competion, they just need to evolve or find the delicate balance. In my area most all of strictly mini stores have gone away. Mostly do to bad managing, the one store that is thriving sells almost nothing but boardgames with some mini's. This store is surviving and thriving because as Gunslinger pointed out he has developed that Pub/Tavern type clientele. I'm also wondering if America is moving more towards the european style game club over the FLGS with tables.

RudyNelson16 Jan 2007 7:47 a.m. PST

Krazygit, ( European style game clubs???) gamers in the USA meeting at a club or someone's home is not a new concept. It is as old as gaming. In the 1970s, such clubs commonly met at numerous Universities and community centers. Getting new blood is always difficult without a store but too many places have 'clicks' of gamers with varying interests which is why meeting at homes rather than stores has always been common in the USA.

B&M with gaming spaces were popular around military bases and universities as well and a way to get new and different groups of gamers together. An established club has the advantage of not being restricted to 'store hours' in order to play games.

DJCoaltrain16 Jan 2007 9:51 a.m. PST

GypsyComet 15 Jan 2007 9:52 p.m. PST

So there are more people into sex than gaming? Who'd a thunk it?

*NJH: Well, we know gamers are doing their bit to make sure gaming trumps sex. Ummnnnnnn, perhaps that's why recruiting new gamers is such a hard sell? :-)

Fifty416 Jan 2007 7:45 p.m. PST

Wait, has anyone ever tried to figure out how many gamers there actually are???

Ha, ha…just kidding.

DJCoaltrain17 Jan 2007 12:47 p.m. PST

Fifty4 16 Jan 2007 6:45 p.m. PST
Wait, has anyone ever tried to figure out how many gamers there actually are???

*NJH: I think HMGSE has spent some time trying to determine a number. I can't recall any numbers, but the question pops up quite regularly. They have massive mailings and other outreach programs that require good metrics.

Fifty417 Jan 2007 12:59 p.m. PST

Ironically, I actually just found some interesting #s. See this:

TMP link

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