Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Shaping the Tabletop Industry ...as a Consumer?


MK here with another installment of MK Tabletop Talk. Today we "Tackle a Tough Topic"!

But first a hint of news from MKTabletop.com! April 30th is National Board Game Day. In celebration MK Tabletop  is doing two separate Board Game Giveaways. Both are focused on their Social Media Fans/Followers. First, on the MKTabletop.com Facebook Page, pop on over there and "Like" the page. Next surf on over to the MKTabletop.com web site, look at the Board Game selection for one you like and post it on the Facebook Page Timeline with a note about why you want that game. A second and alternate chance to win, @MKTabletopTalk on Twitter, become a follower head to the site find the Board Game you want to win and give it a tweet with the #MKTabletop.com! All entries must be made no later than the end of day April 29th. On the Afternoon of April 30th, in a traditional Tabletop fashion (The rolling of the dice) a winner will be chosen and announced!

Now that the required advertisement for our sponsor is out of the way...

Tackling the Tough Topics = Shaping the industry as a consumer! I have had a lot of people tell me that they don't buy games. Sometimes it is "I can't find a game I want at a price I am willing to pay". Occasionally it is "Why buy a game when you have plenty for me to play" ...admittedly I do have quite the collection. However, regardless of your reason for not buying Tabletop Games, if you are not buying, than you have absolutely zero say in modern Tabletop Gaming or the future of it.

How can this be true? Allow me to explain. Just like every single other area of the retail world, if it does not sell, it will no longer be made or sold. If there is a game that you absolutely adore, but you do not own it, you are doing the game (as well as yourself) a huge dis-service. One day you may want to play that game again. The friend you knew who owned it either has moved away, or perhaps you two just grew apart. So you start to look for the game in stores. Guess what? It didn't sell well, so they stopped making it. You can't find it anywhere!
Allow me to tell you a short story of woe that I personally experienced. I found a game that I Loved. It was amazing! It was all the awesomeness of D&D in a much more simple Board Game form. It was called HeroQuest.
It was released in 1989. A game style that I have not seen done the same nor as well since. There are good ones out there, but they just lack that ...certain something. It has been suggested that Nostalgia is what makes the difference. I have played it with my bother since and loved it just as much. It stands the test of time. The hardest test to pass! The problem? I looked at it ...and looked at it ...and decided; "My brother owns it, I don't need to spend money on it". Many years later I was reintroduced to it. My brother is now a four hour drive away. I spent hours combing gaming stores in three cities. Nowhere to be found. Finally when I decided to do a little bit of research on the internet I found it. They no longer make the game, you can only buy it from people who are down sizing their collections, or folks who happen to have some copies they have been hoarding for years knowing what was coming. Yes, I did find it. The problem? In order to buy it in "like new" condition it will cost you near $200. I have seen prices as high as $450. I found pieces of the game (only pieces, no board, no rules) for $60-$100. Had I bought the game (we will not say how many years prior) when I first had the chance; $50, brand new & shrink-wrapped. That is like buying a $100 game today. Not to be looked at lightly. The price tag killed the game because it was unheard of to spend that much on a game back then!

Just one example of how we as consumers shape the industry. If we buy something, they will either keep making it, or as we all know imitation is the biggest form of flattery, we will see many others like it start to pop up. I do understand not wanting to pay the price, but in the Board Game world you need to consider the value of entertainment. I will not go over this in depth right now as I have already talked about price vs value in a previous blog (see #5 in How to Pick the Right Game). All I will say is: you will pay $100 for a TV/Anthology collectors set to watch while sitting alone (or possibly with your S.O.), but you will not pay $100 for a game that will entertain you for years to come? So how do we shape the industry as a consumer? The answer could be summed up in one simple phrase; Vote with your Dollars. I want to change the industry we are talking about (just for a moment) in order to show you what I mean.

Do you remember when Organic was really expensive? Look at the industry that did exist and if you compare it to the industry today, you will find a few important differences.
1) Price. In most cases the price has either drastically dropped (by dollar/s per pound/unit) or in an ever inflating retail market, the price has stayed the same.
2) Availability. It used to be that you had to hunt down the local Co-Op, or be close enough to a store like Whole Foods Market in order to find accessible organic foods. Today you will find at least a small, or more commonly vast selection of organic produce and packaged foods in almost every grocery store across the United States. Why?

Because the consumers cast their vote with the almighty dollar. People were willing to go out of their way to find and purchase organic products. The told the retail market: THIS. This is what we want. You too can do the exact same thing in the Tabletop Games market. How? First and foremost, buy what you like! If you love the game and you see it all the time, just buy it! Second, go out of your way to find games you like and buy them. There are plenty of ways to do this. The one I am most familiar with is Kickstarter. There are many great projects going on all the time. The best part of Kickstarter? It is small guys trying to make it in a big guys world. People just like you and me getting people to buy a product before it even exists; just to get it out there. A project that they are so passionate about that they have actually constructed the details and contacted the producer/manufacturer in order to see what it would cost for them to make the game and deliver it to you while not going broke. This is the material we build the foundation of tomorrows Tabletop Games upon. You only fund a project you like. You only fund it for as much, or as little (minimum a dollar in most cases) as you choose. If the project is not funded/does not meet its goal, you are not charged a single penny. So if you love the idea & "buy in" but it does not become a reality, you lose nothing. If you spend some cash for a game that gets funded and delivered that you know you are going to love, you won big on two fronts. You just got an awesome new game, and you told the market: THIS. I want this.

So the only question is, are you going to complain about the options and their price? Or are you going to help shape the Tabletop Games market of tomorrow? ;)

Until next time ...Game On! -MK