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Subject: Deliberate Supply and Demand Issue? rss

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Brian Schwartz
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Hey all,

I've been a gamer for a relatively short time, three years, so I don't have a ton of experience in the whole field of supply vs. demand, but I did experience Terra Mystica's major issue last year. The game was a hot game, everyone wanted it, and it seemed to take an awful long time for the game to come out again. Then by the end of the year, the game was available and remains available.

My question is, the same thing has occured with Caverna. It was released in the US, and went quickly out of stock, and it is now out of stock for the last few months. Is this the deliberate work of the supplier, building more and more demand for this game so the market is willing to pay whatever price, and then to release it? It just doesn't make sense why the manufacturer doesn't "rush" this game.

Any ideas/light on why this type of situation seems to occur?
 
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Jason Rupp
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Welcome to the new ZMan games. They have a chronic problem of underestimating demand.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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rrrrupp wrote:
Welcome to the new ZMan games. They have a chronic problem of underestimating demand.


Except Zman is not publishing this game, Mayfair now owns Lookout Games, the original designer. And who knows what you will get from Mayfair, I agree that it's ridiculous that a reprint has taken this long.
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What you will get is a much more clear focus on making money, not games.

Sadly for us, Mayfookout treat the UK as a poor relative when allocating supplies of English language titles (at least as far as Caverna was/is concerned).


In the meantime, Z-man's support for Mayfookout titles they still have rights to is lamentable. Surprise surprise.
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Alex Yeager
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It is not ridiculous. This game has a BUNCH of wood, and the reprint that is going out in the next couple of weeks was triggered at Essen. This is not a fast game to get out the door, and that's all there is to it. (One can imagine our eagerness to get a game with a $97 MSRP, that flies of the shelves, out as fast as possible.)

The next/summer reprint was triggered in January, and amounted to "make as many sets of wood as you can between now and when we're ready to put them into a box." It won't be enough, but it will be a larger run and should finally give the game the wider release we want.

There will be a very small number of them available for sale at PAX East next week from the current reprint, so there's one opportunity...

Alex Yeager
Mayfair Games

(And as I understand it, Canada and the UK fare better with the current reprint. As a goodly chunk of the games disappeared at Essen, EVERYBODY got short-shrift on Caverna on run 1...)
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Bryan Thunkd
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WittyreaderLI wrote:
Is this the deliberate work of the supplier, building more and more demand for this game so the market is willing to pay whatever price, and then to release it?
I highly doubt it.

WittyreaderLI wrote:
Any ideas/light on why this type of situation seems to occur?
Because producing too many games is really bad if it turns out that the game doesn't sell well. Rather than risk losing a lot of money on unsold games, manufacturers will do a smaller print run. If it goes gangbusters they can always do another print run afterwards, but if they overproduce they'll be trying to get rid of those games forever and you'd see them on all the discount sites selling for a fraction of the original retail price.
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Shawn Fox
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I suspect the main issue is switching the game from being made in Germany to made in China. A lot of games are done this way because they can get the first release out faster (for Essen) by making it in Germany, but in the long term making the game in China is vastly cheaper. That is what took so long with the reprints for Terra Mystica last year as well.
 
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And that's when QA goes out the window and you have the farcical situation of folks waiting weeks and months for replacement parts for missing/defective items.
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WittyreaderLI wrote:
Hey all,

I've been a gamer for a relatively short time, three years, so I don't have a ton of experience in the whole field of supply vs. demand, but I did experience Terra Mystica's major issue last year. The game was a hot game, everyone wanted it, and it seemed to take an awful long time for the game to come out again. Then by the end of the year, the game was available and remains available.

My question is, the same thing has occured with Caverna. It was released in the US, and went quickly out of stock, and it is now out of stock for the last few months. Is this the deliberate work of the supplier, building more and more demand for this game so the market is willing to pay whatever price, and then to release it? It just doesn't make sense why the manufacturer doesn't "rush" this game.

Any ideas/light on why this type of situation seems to occur?


How does keeping it out of stock make money for the supplier? The MSRP isn't going to change. It was $90 before and it sold out. It will be $90 when it is reprinted. This makes the supplier nothing. The high demand, and therefore high cost, is on the secondary market. The only people making money on this is stores with remaining stock selling it on ebay. None of this makes it back to Mayfair or Lookout Games. Now account for the fact that distributors and game stores have no control on how quickly a reprint is made and your conspiracy theory unravels.
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Mary T.
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sfox wrote:
I suspect the main issue is switching the game from being made in Germany to made in China. A lot of games are done this way because they can get the first release out faster (for Essen) by making it in Germany, but in the long term making the game in China is vastly cheaper. That is what took so long with the reprints for Terra Mystica last year as well.


I will be VERY surprised if the reprint of Caverna was done in China.
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mevitale wrote:
sfox wrote:
I suspect the main issue is switching the game from being made in Germany to made in China. A lot of games are done this way because they can get the first release out faster (for Essen) by making it in Germany, but in the long term making the game in China is vastly cheaper. That is what took so long with the reprints for Terra Mystica last year as well.


I will be VERY surprised if the reprint of Caverna was done in China.


Really? Why would that surprise you? Most games with large print runs come from China these days, especially reprints. The cost is way lower and there aren't any more problems with games from China than there are games from Germany. Quite often the opposite since in China it is much cheaper to hire additional people to do QA and other labor intensive work on the games.

Manufacturers in China are capable of producing at whatever level of quality you want. If you get a poorly made game from China that was a purposeful decision made by the publisher (or a badly written contract that did not have proper requirements for tolerances and QA), not because manufacturers in China were not capable of doing the job at a higher quality level.
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Mary T.
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sfox wrote:
mevitale wrote:
sfox wrote:
I suspect the main issue is switching the game from being made in Germany to made in China. A lot of games are done this way because they can get the first release out faster (for Essen) by making it in Germany, but in the long term making the game in China is vastly cheaper. That is what took so long with the reprints for Terra Mystica last year as well.


I will be VERY surprised if the reprint of Caverna was done in China.


Really? Why would that surprise you? Most games with large print runs come from China these days, especially reprints. The cost is way lower and there aren't any more problems with games from China than there are games from Germany. Quite often the opposite since in China it is much cheaper to hire additional people to do QA and other labor intensive work on the games.

Manufacturers in China are capable of producing at whatever level of quality you want. If you get a poorly made game from China that was a purposeful decision made by the publisher (or a badly written contract that did not have proper requirements for tolerances and QA), not because manufacturers in China were not capable of doing the job at a higher quality level.


Ok, I'm not going to get into this debate. I'll just say that all Lookout games that I know of are made in Germany and I would be shocked if the Caverna reprint was done in China.
 
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Brian Schwartz
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Thanks for your responses. This was mostly posted because of lack of understanding. The only reason I think keeping a game out of stock would benefit the supplier would be to create a greater demand.

Ex:

Caverna is reviewed very highly and has gotten a lot of buzz. Nearly all of the podcasts I listen to have given it great feedback (Dice Tower, etc). Game goes out of stock. Demand grows greater (Since most of the reviews came out after the game became unavailable). Game comes out out again, and because it has been unavailable so long, it sells even MORE copies.

 
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mevitale wrote:

Ok, I'm not going to get into this debate. I'll just say


If you "just say", you're in the debate by definition - you can't 'speak and hide'.

Lookout is no more, it's now Mayfookout - very different value system / business model.
 
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WittyreaderLI wrote:
Thanks for your responses. This was mostly posted because of lack of understanding. The only reason I think keeping a game out of stock would benefit the supplier would be to create a greater demand.

Ex:

Caverna is reviewed very highly and has gotten a lot of buzz. Nearly all of the podcasts I listen to have given it great feedback (Dice Tower, etc). Game goes out of stock. Demand grows greater (Since most of the reviews came out after the game became unavailable). Game comes out out again, and because it has been unavailable so long, it sells even MORE copies.


The reviews would increase the demand whether it was available or not. Good reviews plus inaccessible game does not mean more sales when it is available. If anything, it means less sales. Good reviews leads to impulse purchases. If it isn't their to purchase, it gives time for people to think about it or play and change their minds.
 
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Brian Schwartz
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I'm assuming the game companies sent out review copies to podcasts such as the Dice Tower, as well as other well known board game blogs and have gotten reviews, so I guess some games are better anticipated as being hits than others? Like why do some games that are well reviewed seem easy to obtain but others such as Caverna is so difficult? Is it the fact that the componants are so vast in Caverna that makes it harder and more expensive to produce, thus slowing down the speed at which it is distributed?
 
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Alex Yeager
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Remember that Lookout retains a fair bit of autonomy, and that Mayfair has a goal (which is 95% achieved) of all components being sourced from the US (the remaining bits are some German production, some European sourcing, and China for the ships in Star Trek Catan and little else).

Going to Chinese production is NEVER a starting point of conversation with Mayfair (or Lookout).

Alex Yeager
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Mary T.
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enoon wrote:
mevitale wrote:

Ok, I'm not going to get into this debate. I'll just say


If you "just say", you're in the debate by definition - you can't 'speak and hide'.

Lookout is no more, it's now Mayfookout - very different value system / business model.


Fine. I think Mayfair would lose some customer goodwill by doing the reprint in China. I think people expect Lookout games to be manufactured in Germany. Yes, I have seen nicely produced games that come out of China, but on the whole German-manufactured games have an overall nicer look and feel to the quality of the materials. I'm talking about finishes on the components mostly. Linen finish from Germany looks and feels much nicer than linen finish from China. Painted wooden components look and feel much nicer on games manufactured in Germany. Cardboard generally seems denser on German-manufactured games. I'm always a little disappointed when I learn a game has been made in China.
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AlexYeager wrote:
Going to Chinese production is NEVER a starting point of conversation with Mayfair (or Lookout).

Could be the end point when the numbers get crunched though, eh?
 
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@Brian: the thing to keep in mind is the lead time on game production (and Caverna is a longer lead time than some due to its components). All of those positives that you mention aren't around when we're (and, in this case, Lookout) placing the order for the components. We had a sense of what we had, certainly, but it's a fair question whether people were going to step up to "upgrade" an existing game at a sub-$100 MSRP. Fortunately for all involved, the game really is all that and a bag of chips, so we've been pushing suppliers ever since.

In fact, the reason that we have reprint going out NOW is that Mayfair was able to trigger a reprint within 48 hours of the ink being dry on our agreement in Essen, before the show opened. Doing so was a chunk of money that we could immediately commit, before a single copy of Caverna was sold (and as there can be a rush to reprint games post-Essen, even that extra week bought us some time).

I can't speak to artificial scarcity by other companies, but Mayfair is all about the long game. Playing stocking games is a risky-at-best strategy in today's market, because there are so many games out there, any empty shelf space (real or virtual) has five other games ready to become the cash that your non-existent game can't become. We're only six months into our partnership with Lookout, and there are going to be growing pains, but Caverna in particular has benefitted from the relationship (and it is a credit to Uwe, Hanno and Lookout that its still not available despite those efforts).

Alex Yeager
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Alex Yeager
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@Grooble: rarely. Plastics still make sense over there, and there are specific components that China simply does better (or the tech/will to do them here has diminished to the point where we can't get it here in practice). In some cases, we're willing to pay a premium for US manufacture based on the advantages that US manufacture has. And, because of the wider markets that we play in, "Made in U.S.A." has a tangible sales benefit.

Of course it can be the end point, especially when other companies are involved (co-publications always are a bit more give-and-take), but we're going to exhaust a number of avenues before using Chinese production - it is NEVER our default. 95% US-sourced is not the hobby game industry standard, and we're happy to be a standard-bearer for US production.

Alex Yeager
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Oskar 10101
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Wow am I glad I got one from the first run.
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Oskar, you're very lucky, I really really want a copy of it!
 
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I have my copy up for trade! Only been played once. Bought it for trade fodder...
 
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Yeah, me too, Oskar. I brought six copies back from Essen. Kept one, had it signed by Uwe at Spiel, and sold the other five. It is a very hot title.....
 
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