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Subject: OBG 35: The Economy vs. the Board Game Industry rss

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Donald Dennis
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Round Table
Donald, Scott, and Erik, discuss what impact the economy will really have on the board game industry.

Giles gives his tuppence on the economy as well.

Reviews
War for Edaðh reviewed by Erik
Toboggans of Doom reviewed by Donald



Web Site: http://onboardgames.net/
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Episode Link: http://onboardgames.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=442215

Let us know what impact the economy will have on your game purchases, and what you think the overall impact the economy will have on the board game industry. Will you buy more games so you can stay in and play instead of going out to movies? Will you have to cut back on your game purchases?
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Magnus Esko
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The problem for us here in Sweden is that our currency is dropping in value so importing is getting more expensive. That is the prices in all stores are bound to go up sooner or later.

You are speaking way too fast in your review Donald. Not that I'm interested in the game.
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Donald Dennis
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Awakening wrote:
The problem for us here in Sweden is that our currency is dropping in value so importing is getting more expensive. That is the prices in all stores are bound to go up sooner or later.

Yeah, that's going to be harsh. I wish you the best of luck, but you'd better stock up for that eventuality.
Awakening wrote:
You are speaking way too fast in your review Donald. Not that I'm interested in the game.
C'mon, be fair. I started the review by saying "A fast review". I think I gave the game the time it deserved on the show.
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Magnus Esko
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One could argue that the game didn't deserve to be on the show at all
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Donald Dennis
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Awakening wrote:
One could argue that the game didn't deserve to be on the show at all
So we shouldn't do red light reviews? Where would the fun be in that. I mean, yeah, it's great to sing the praises of games that are mighty - but it is also fun to do reviews where I can give a very honest opinion that isn't all roses and sunshine. I often find yellow light reviews the toughest to do, because I probably like or dislike the game, and then I have to give a balanced review of what other folks might want to consider.

But on the other hand you were probably just teasing me and I just bled all the fun out of it. Sorry!
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Magnus Esko
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My point is: if you are doing a review you should do it properly, even if the game is bad. At least talk slowly enough that the listener can make up their own mind
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Donald Dennis
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Sometimes I forget we have listeners for whom English is not the primary language. I'll try to keep that more in mind in the future.

I guess the real disconnect is 'I see you writing in very clear English, I've never heard you speak, so the accent doesn't exist as a reminder.
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Giles Pritchard
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Great roundtable guys! I agree that the next few years will see a rise in the number of expansions. Even the number of expansions for 'established' games has (I think) really grown in this last year (at least over 2007).

Do you think we'll see companies going back to 'core business' games and producing more variants and/or expansions for these?

Cheers,

Giles.
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Frank Feldmann
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caradoc wrote:
Great roundtable guys! I agree that the next few years will see a rise in the number of expansions. Even the number of expansions for 'established' games has (I think) really grown in this last year (at least over 2007).

Do you think we'll see companies going back to 'core business' games and producing more variants and/or expansions for these?

Cheers,

Giles.


Okay, I will admit to not having listened to enough of the podcast to hear Giles (that's for the drive home after work), but that won't stop me from saying I think expansions will take a hit in this economy too.

I'll start by saying I am not big on expansions to begin with (most of our expansions are my son's). Particularly when I am watching my money, I won't spend $25+ on a big box expansion, or even $20 for TTR:1910. I will buy a copy of Red November instead, and opt for an entirely different, and well researched, experience. I might buy an $8 adventure deck for Runebound, or $14 for a new Battlegrounds faction, but if I am looking at much more than $15, it's time to look at a new game.

I am guessing I am not the only one.

Frank

Edited for spelling.
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Magnus Esko
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Walsfeo wrote:
Sometimes I forget we have listeners for whom English is not the primary language. I'll try to keep that more in mind in the future.

I guess the real disconnect is 'I see you writing in very clear English, I've never heard you speak, so the accent doesn't exist as a reminder.


It's not that I can't understand what you are saying but since it's audio only it is a bit difficult to imagine the game if you're speaking quickly, the brain takes a while to process the information. I get all my TV shows and movies directly from US (no subtitles) so the language is not a problem for me, I'm quite used to it
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Rich Kalla
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because i live at home still i have more money to spend on games. so the economy wont slow down my game purchases. in fact since i'm a newish boardgamer and just starting to build my library, i'll be buying lots o games this year. On Board Games and boardgameswithscott(srry Donarrrh, i plugged) have been really helpful
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Donald Dennis
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caradoc wrote:
Do you think we'll see companies going back to 'core business' games and producing more variants and/or expansions for these?
This is the kind of market where a company should build up their reputation for being the best at what they do, and a large part of that is nurturing a core audience. Wild experimentation is likely to be less of a core strategy. However that, combined with the tendency to rehash previously successful game elements are more likely to cause a falloff in purchasing than a simple "I can't afford games".

feldmafx wrote:
Okay, I will admit to not having listened to enough of the podcast to hear Giles (that's for the drive home after work), but that won't stop me from saying I think expansions will take a hit in this economy too. ...
I might buy an $8 adventure deck for Runebound, or $14 for a new Battlegrounds faction, but if I am looking at much more than $15, it's time to look at a new game.
That's possible - if the expansions don't actually offer enough value. By and large though expansions are much easier to develop, cheaper to product, and help push sales of core systems - thus selling two units at once.
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Magnus Esko
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It amazes me as well how expensive expansions are. You usually get a lot more for your money with a new game. I just ordered the Pacific Theater for M44 which seems quite reasonably priced considering the amount of stuff in it. I am wondering about the Catan expansions though, they seem to be overpriced. Also, you need to buy the 5-6 player expansions separately. We'll see once we try Seafarers (C&K is sold out).
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Andrew Glassop
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As an Australian listener, I can only concur and commiserate with Giles about the cost of games here. Your average high street store is hideously expensive (through no real fault of their own) and the online stores leave a lot to be desired. A main gripe with them is that games are listed on their website that they haven't had, and will not have, for months. So you have to enter in to lengthy email discussions about what they have and don't have.

So to cut a long story short, I think times are going to be tough here. The local shop can't compete on price, and the online stores are service deserts. Increasing prices will kill both. Add to this I live a five hour drive from the nearest local store and it gets worse for the Aussie gamer.

And don't get me started on ebay, where we seem happy (guilty here!) of paying obscene prices for old games. Easily twice the price of what the USA price is.

However, we have Rudd Money on the way (yeah economic downturn - if you still have a job) so a few games are on order from Milsims and other places. And hopefully, as other posts have pointed out, this downturn could actually increase the efficiency of the local industry, and make it better in the long run.
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Giles Pritchard
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My key hope for the Australian Industry Andrew is that the distributors actually spend some of their energy working together to promote the hobby. Too often they try and out-do, ignore, hamper and undercut each other - where really I think that if they worked together to support events (like the Expo, Toy shows, CanCon and GenCon - and/or any others), then the industry as a whole would benefit. Since they all also run their own retail outlets I think the level of cooperation is hampered by the level of competition.

As you said though - perhaps this period could help the local industry. I really hope so!

Cheers,

Giles.
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Frank Feldmann
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Walsfeo wrote:
That's possible - if the expansions don't actually offer enough value. By and large though expansions are much easier to develop, cheaper to product, and help push sales of core systems - thus selling two units at once.


I didn't think about production and development costs, and it makes sense that would increase the profitability. That would also be a good reason for reprints. Decision games has developed RAF into a larger game (RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940), but seeing how the original game sells on ebay they would have also done well with just a straight reprint. I'm not second guessing their decision, just pointing out one of the many OOP games that I believe would turn a quick profit. Dune comes to mind also.


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Donald Dennis
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feldmafx wrote:
Dune comes to mind also.
And I can't wait for the reprint of that. I don't think I ever played the original game (though my friends back home say I have) so I won't miss the DUNE theme. As long as the game play is solid I'll be happy.
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Andrew Glassop
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True.

It would seem to me that proper business sense would be for distributors with retail outlets to charge the 'average street price' or there abouts. This would increase the individual profit on each game they sell retail, whilst not undercutting their own customers (other retailers). The end result, I reckon, would have to be an increase in sales overall. Many people don't like to buy over the internet, or won't spend $100 on a game they haven't been able to pick up and examine themselves. Thus they need the local game store, which could disappear if the current situation continues.

I have in mind Apple, who offer no discounts or deals at all, so its almost always better going to the local reseller and pleading poverty in order to get a few goodies thrown in. And Apple seems pretty strong to me.

But then I have a degree in Aust. Lit so what would I know?
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Frank Feldmann
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Walsfeo wrote:
feldmafx wrote:
Dune comes to mind also.
And I can't wait for the reprint of that. I don't think I ever played the original game (though my friends back home say I have) so I won't miss the DUNE theme. As long as the game play is solid I'll be happy.


I managed to get a copy for just over $50.00 a year ago, so I scratched that itch. However, there are so many other games that I would like to see back out there: RAF as I said, Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit, We the People, and a few more.

The real key is the marketing and advertising of the local stores. My fear is that, at least in my neck of the woods, many of the store owners are more concerned about running sessions (and maybe playing in them personally) than effective business practices. I will give an example. The store that borders the military base here does not advertise in the base newspaper, which is practically free. A small discout to military personnel advertised there would tap into a market of young people with time and disposable income. However, the store is to busy adding space in which to run sessions. shake
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I visited the store I'm ordering my board games from yesterday. It was only a quick visit but I was asking about more Catan expansions and they think that because of the financial crisis the manufacturers are having problems getting bank loans to print the games. They are now getting a 3rd of the games they order from the distributors. This is a sad development for us gamers.
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Donald Dennis
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Awakening wrote:
I visited the store I'm ordering my board games from yesterday. It was only a quick visit but I was asking about more Catan expansions and they think that because of the financial crisis the manufacturers are having problems getting bank loans to print the games. They are now getting a 3rd of the games they order from the distributors. This is a sad development for us gamers.
Which publisher's version would you get? (If it were available?) Do you get the Mayfair version? or a region specific version?
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Frank Feldmann
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Awakening wrote:
I visited the store I'm ordering my board games from yesterday. It was only a quick visit but I was asking about more Catan expansions and they think that because of the financial crisis the manufacturers are having problems getting bank loans to print the games. They are now getting a 3rd of the games they order from the distributors. This is a sad development for us gamers.


I had a similar experience. My FLGS had trouble getting Battleground for me. I never thought of the potential problem you mentioned.
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Walsfeo wrote:
Awakening wrote:
I visited the store I'm ordering my board games from yesterday. It was only a quick visit but I was asking about more Catan expansions and they think that because of the financial crisis the manufacturers are having problems getting bank loans to print the games. They are now getting a 3rd of the games they order from the distributors. This is a sad development for us gamers.
Which publisher's version would you get? (If it were available?) Do you get the Mayfair version? or a region specific version?


I got the Mayfair 4th edition. The one with the annoying frame... But it looks really good.
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Donald Dennis
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Awakening wrote:
I visited the store I'm ordering my board games from yesterday. It was only a quick visit but I was asking about more Catan expansions and they think that because of the financial crisis the manufacturers are having problems getting bank loans to print the games. They are now getting a 3rd of the games they order from the distributors. This is a sad development for us gamers.


It is very unlikely bank loans have anything to do with production deficiencies. Granted, I was never the CFO of a company, but traditionally established companies rely on cash flow, not the bank, to print products. New companies would have even less of a chance to get a loan to subsidize production.

If distributors were late in paying for previous shipments, not unlikely, that would more likely put a crimp on the new games pipeline. But I guess the most likely excuse is the relative unprofessionalism of most game companies when it comes to meeting shipping deadlines or producing new product.
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Walsfeo wrote:
It is very unlikely bank loans have anything to do with production deficiencies. Granted, I was never the CFO of a company, but traditionally established companies rely on cash flow, not the bank, to print products. New companies would have even less of a chance to get a loan to subsidize production.

If distributors were late in paying for previous shipments, not unlikely, that would more likely put a crimp on the new games pipeline. But I guess the most likely excuse is the relative unprofessionalism of most game companies when it comes to meeting shipping deadlines or producing new product.


Bank loans are not what I would have guessed myself. Mayfair shouldn't be relying on loans. But whatever it is, it seems to be harder to get a hold on games nowadays. Either there are fewer copies per print or further between the prints. There doesn't seem to be a decline in demand so something must have happened. Perhaps they are printing less because they worry about the economy?
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