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Subject: Why are release dates nowhere close? rss

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Jeff Brown
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It's interesting to me how companies will put out release dates that really end up being nowhere close. I mean not ANYWHERE close at all. In some cases a couple of years off. I can understand that certain things can delay the process that are beyond their control but it seems that isn't always the case.

For instance Taj Mahal has been on the release schedule for quite some time. I started watching closely when it was around April or May. When the month comes that its supposed to be released then he pushes it back a month. Well on the current webpage it says that they are now just finishing the work on it and it should be released in August or September.

My question is this. If it still takes another 2 months after all the work is finished on it to get it out and the work hasn't been finished on it why would he have the release date for 1 month away for the past 3-4 months? If it still looks like they have a lot more work to do on it and it will take at least 2 more months after that then it seems to make sense that the release date shouldn't be next month but at least 4 months out.

I don't think that they need to work faster, or cut the work short to get the game out faster, but just be realistic as to when it will actually come out.

Not to single out Rio Grande as I love their games, I think other game companies are just as bad if not worse. Fantasy Flight being among them. Their release schedule will have a game to come out really soon and then you look at their rants and they still have a lot more to do on it. It seems as if a release dates are put out before the game is even close to being finished and this seems to be the case with most companies.

I don't want to sound too negative as I love the games that these companies put out, I was just baffled by this topic.

On a side note, I was thinking that this would be a good boardgame on making a good game, and timing when it would come out but I realized that all you would have to do is retheme Princes of Florence from works to boardgames and you would get the same thing. Now if you were a player that was as good at timing your works in PoF as boardgame companies are then you would have a VERY difficult time in that game.

Jeff
 
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Mik Svellov
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I don't know why they are doing it, but as no-one is forcing them they must do it on purpose!

Maybe the additional fuss can be seen in the final figures?
Maybe they are simply stupid?
 
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Sven
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Maybe because this is life and thing just don´t turn out the way you plan?

It happens in every industry, but only in really crucial and vitaly important industries, like computer games, board games and entertainment electronics, customers get really mad and come up with all sorts of sinister reasons why products get delayed.
 
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Mik Svellov
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German game publishers rarely announce games until they are ready to print. Others could learn from that.
 
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David Me
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It's a well-known strategy taught in Marketing 101 in any university that a manufacturer should announce a release date far in advance of a product actually coming out. "One year ahead to get the bread" is the mnemonic taught to remind CEOs to do what it takes to make sure the product sells.

Here's the theory:

A product is due out in January of '07, so announce it as Jan. '06 so that the media knows that a year's worth of articles are coming that practically write themselves.

Near the release date in Jan. '06, you can announce that it will be delayed by three months. Potential buyers will start to hear about the product at this point.

Three months later, April '06: Announce that due to unfortunate and unforeseen problems, the product will be delayed another 3 months. Fans of the product will now be reminded of your item and start to realize that it's not just a rumor and it's probably really going to be released someday.

Three months later, July '06: Announce that the product may be ready in another 3 months. Buyers will now start to yearn for the product and spread the word about how horrible it is that the product keeps getting delayed. It doesn't matter what's being said about your product as long as it's being talked about!

Three months later, October '06: Announce that the product is stuck in a warehouse and awaiting customs or has legal problems to be worked out. The buyers' frenzy will start to heighten and people will start saving their money to buy it.

January '07, supposed sale date: It's even okay to miss the day here. Your retailers love the traffic generated when buyers have to keep visiting either brick & mortar stores or online sites to see if your item has arrived yet. A happy retailer translates to more hype of your product!

A few days later: The product hits the shelves in limited numbers and sells out immediately, starting a whole new level of frenzy to get your product, whether your product is worthy of ANY of this frenzy at all!

 
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Michelle Zentis
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I guess that makes sense in the freaky world of marketing world where all customers are bleating morons , but wouldn't it be nice if game companies gave their customers credit for a little sense? Honestly, by the time some of these games come out I'm so tired of hearing about them that I can't even dredge up enough energy to care about them! Even worse, if I've had a game order on hold waiting for upcoming releases that are delayed month after month, I may decide not to buy the game at all just on general principle! Maybe I'm an extreme case (I also avoid products with especially annoying commercials laugh ), but I suspect there are others out there also turned way off by all this BS.

Game companies, please realize that you're dealing with a market of generally intelligent people! Please realize that setting unrealistic release dates may appear to work in the short run but will most likely lead to apathy among potential game buyers! Please help us buy your games! Some companies manage to survive just fine without all this mess. I think GMT usually provides fairly realistic info about the progress of games through their production cycle, for example, yet people still buy their games.
 
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Randy Cox
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It's all part of the downsized, lean and mean, do more with less mentality of manufacturing (and retailing and marketing and pretty much everything else) these days.

You have fewer people to actually do all the jobs required from design to art layout to development to contract negotiation to supplier selection to overseas compliance inspection (often outsourced, too) to order processing to routing to manufacturer contacts to freight forwarding to shipment tracking to customs brokering to third-party warehouse receiving to arrival inspections to problem resolution (for those inspections that point out problems with manufacturing and packaging) to penalty recoupment and replacement production to add-on assembly to finally shipping to customers.

When the current business model is to cut out a third or more of the people who used to do some of those tasks, things fall through the cracks. The CEO doesn't care so much, because the huge savings in having the product manufactured overseas makes up for the losses due to customer chargebacks (in our case, that's just the customers who stop purchasing from a particular company). It's the bottom line, stupid, not customer satisfaction. Sigh.

Now, in the specific case of Rio Grande, I don't think that model applies. In most cases, Jay is at the mercy of production runs in Germany (or elsewhere), so he has even less control. Now, I would suspect that some games he probably gets published directly (without riding the print runs of the German license holder). In those cases, he probably does fall into the black hole known as Global Supply Chain.

Rant over. Back to work in the world of sourced products.
 
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Matt Burchfield
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The truth is a combination of things. From personal experience it has a lot to do with completion of a quality product and manufacturing factors.

You can say you plan to have a game out in August of such and such. But what if as you near time to get it to the presses you find that the game isn't working like it should. Do you print it anyways? Certainly not. You do a rush job and you will get a ton of threads about how the game wasn't playtested properly and what not. Boardgamers aren't dummies, they know when something is really a finished product. So you take the hit and say, "You know what we expected it out by september but it will be October. We are sorry for the delay, but we want to give you the best game for your money."

On the manufacturing end publishers are (or should at least) always looking at ways to give you better components for less money or making sure the components provided are the best they can be at that time. It isn't as simple as finishing the game and bam....factory work is done and you can ship it out. There is a lot of quality control and double checking that needs to happen. Again you would rather suffer a two month delay than have to worry customers being unhappy with a particular aspect of the product.

Another thing to remember is that this process can be very artistic. I often compare the game design and publishing process to making a film. There is a level that has to be reached before you can really call the game finished. This takes a lot of time and effort.

I try to be careful with our release dates. Most of them say "expected" because that is our best estimate. Customers generally want to know when we think the games will be ready so we give them an expected date. Sometimes this will change. For instance Cowboys: Way of the Gun was delayed until an expected November/December release because we wanted to overhaul the component quality. We believe pushing it back a couple of months would make for a much stronger gaming experience for the customer.

Just some thoughts for you guys...from the flip side. .
 
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Daniel Corban
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It is especially annoying because I try to make large orders. Having delays of several months makes it hard to submit the order in that sweet spot where one game reprint is finally being released, but before another game goes out of print.
 
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Seth Bell
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I don't ever make preorders because of this problem. Take Caylus for example. Everyone thought it would be out "soon" in January/February and preordered it. I heard some places couldn't even fill all of their preorders with the second printing that happened in March.
 
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jeff brown wrote:
It's interesting to me how companies will put out release dates that really end up being nowhere close.


Two things spring to mind:
d10-1 An old Dilbert cartoon with the people doing the actual work battling against the marketing guys setting dates (and customer expectations)
d10-2 The wonderful world of Proejct Management
 
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David Me
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davidme wrote:
It's a well-known strategy taught in Marketing 101 ... whether your product is worthy of ANY of this frenzy at all!


This was all BS! It's satire based on my paranoid musings on the topic. Now my paranoia makes me think some of you are taking it as fact. (However, I'm not denying any accidental truth in the post!)
 
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