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Starcraft Boardgame Prices


By echack - Posted on 04 October 2007

So, in your comment on pre-order prices for Starcraft, are you obliquely referring to this: http://web.mac.com/rsdancey/RSDanceyBlog/Blog/Entries/2007/6/28_Earthquake!.html (The article is about the recent US Supreme Court decision on minimum retail price agreements and their probable positive effects on the game market.) Edit: I had thought that WotC and GW would be the first to add minimum prices to their contracts.
sconway's picture

I don't know if Dave had this in mind, but it certain is where my mind went immediately.

I sat in on the GenCon trade day events and this was a very lively topic in the hallway discussions. Personally, I think companies trying to price fix their products in the name of saving brick and mortar stores will blow up in their collective faces. To me it is a finger in the dam when the flood is already well under way. Online merchants will not cease to exist because of such pricing strategies. And because there are companies like Rio Grande who have gone on record saying it isn't their place to determine how other businesses sell their products, there will be plenty of deals to be had. I would even go so far as to say that in the long run the companies who do not engage in this price fixing practice will prosper while the ones who do will suffer. Punishing customers because businesses can compete in new ways won't generate more sales. I think there is still plenty of room for brick and mortar stores, but conspiring with game companies against their customers is not the answer.

echack's picture
I have mixed feelings. Boardgames are somewhat less subject to the network effects that Dancey talks about in the article above. I'm in agreement with Dancey that CCGs, collectable mini games and the like NEED B&M stores to survive. The local scene here in Houston has had several stores that tried to support the CCG/CMG community go out of business. One had mediocre management and the other was well run. My daughter got interested in Magic, so the two of us spent a number of weekends at events at the well-run shop a few years ago. It was pretty clear from listening to the chatter in the store that significant numbers of the older players (late teens and up) were buying the bulk of their cards online. Their only purchases at the store were snacks and the occasional odd card they needed for their decks. The only long-time game store here in Houston is Nan's, and from what I can see, they are only kept open by comic book sales. They have no play space and even took down their bulletin board for finding other gamers. CCGs and the like NEED stores to act as locations for players to interact, get "support", etc. They also can be influenced to enter new gaming areas as they observe play at the store. Without stores where players can "kick the tires" of games the game companies are shafted in the long run. They'll lose the youth market to computer games. I'll leave you with this: the only segment of the non-Eurogame gaming market seeming to thrive is the Games Workshop segment. Which one has had a no online discount sales policy?
I think those who are pro price fixing is generally the manufactors that can provide a good distribution of their products. If you can find the games in toy stores and other none niche stores can gain because they target certain groups of people unaware of less spread products. I think those who order games using internet are generally more informed about the choices.
sconway's picture

Great points about CCGs/CMGs needing local stores.

Is the converse equally true? Do local stores need CCGs/CMGs to survive?

I think a local store that is too heavily dependent on CCG/CMGs is set up to fail in the long run. CCgs/CMGs might be one possible revenue source, but because they have had their heyday, I don't think they can be a foundation for a long-term business.

Local game stores that can provide a great variety of games and game experiences, a place to play, a place to learn, a place to meet other players and works at bringing people into the store for events every day is the business that has a chance to carve itself a niche in many communities.

As for Games Workshop, I would counter that they have opened the door to greater competition through their price fixing/draconian online discount policies. I can think of several other miniatures wargames that are very popular today and certainly have taken a bite out of the GW market. Part of the success of companies like Privateer Press, etc., is due to the closed system GW insists their customers/retailers live in. And because GW makes, supplies, and sells their games at their own retail outlets, other independent local retailers can't ever compete on equal terms, whether or not online stores exist. I think this closed door mentality has actually driven more players away and as a result their pool of players (and payers) is smaller. It hasn't driven them out of business by any means, but in the long run I don't think the company or the game playing public is better off.

echack's picture
According to a post on BGG, Mayfair has set a maximim discount of MSRP of 20% for their games.
dumpty's picture
I hope Mayfair falls flat on its face on this one. I see no reason why a company should tell retailers how much to charge for their product. If I'm reading this correctly, Mayfair gets the same amount no matter what discount is applied by the retailer. So, why should they care? I do not need any more Catan games. In fact, I could easily go the rest of my life without ever playing one of them again. I certainly have no intention of buying their 4th edition attempt to get their hands into my pocket yet one more time for the same game. I was disheartened to hear that Fantasy Flight is beginning to institute the price flooring too. Their big box games need that big discount in order to be affordable. If any game companies are listening, it DOES make a difference to the consumer when a publisher meddles like this. It hurts us and higher prices mean fewer game purchases. David "Gooberhound" Siskin Los Angeles, CA
echack's picture
So, why should they care? Because they think the FLGSs around the US will go belly up in the face of on-line competitors that can sell for less. See my post above.

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