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Subject: Arcadia Quest, CMoN and capitalism rss

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Rob Defense
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I've lately been thinking a lot about Arcadia Quest, and why it's so weird to me that a company would make so much game content permanently unavailable to to so many people (the 99% of gamers who didn't pledge the AQ Kickstarter).

And I realized that the only thing weird about this is that a game company has finally decided to put profit potential over all other considerations.

This wouldn't be strange on Wall Street or in most other industries: Scarcity is a tried-and-true way of making money. (Facebook shares are going fast … if you want in, buy now!!!) But in the gaming hobby, it's novel for a company to so nakedly make the Money Move.

CMoN is very smart in the way it uses Kickstarter. It sells beautiful toys to an audience that is particularly sensitive to the idea of collectibility. When board game hobbyists love a game, they often want ALL of it. CMoN knows this and plays it to the hilt by explicitly, loudly stating that gamers MUST PAY US RIGHT NOW if they want an entire game. Arcadia Quest is the ultimate example (so far) of this: A full-on expansion, and a dozen-plus heroes, will never be for sale by CMoN. Ever.

People who knew about the Kickstarter and pledged are happy. People who either didn't know about the KS (me, for example), didn't have the money or risk tolerance, or weren't convinced that AQ would be any good were permanently left out.

That is new in the board game hobby, as far as I can tell. It's capitalism at its most aggressive. I am a capitalist but I've never experienced it in my hobby until now, with CMoN.

Arcadia Quest seems like a game I've been waiting for my whole life: Great minis, high fantasy, dungeons, swords, monsters … wow!

But I didn't know Arcadia Quest existed until Tom Vasel returned from CMoN Con, or whatever it was called, and posted a RAVE review. I was sold! But by that time the KS campaign was over and the late-pledge window was closed.

Ouch.

So now you've got dozens (hundreds?) of gamers who desperately want to buy into an entire game and can't. That's a new emotion for gamers. And a strange one.

It's probably good business but it's not cool, Cool Mini or Not. It's not the way this hobby has operated. (Profits never seemed like the whole point.) But when KS can help CMoN pull in $3M for a zombie expansion, the old rules are clearly obsolete.

To those folks who defend CMoN's practices with AQ or Kaosball or whatever they've got cooking next, I'd simply ask this: Why, if this way of doing business is so fine, are companies like Soda Pop loudly proclaiming that they will NEVER EVER do this to their customers? Super Dungeon Explore (which Arcadia Quest clearly is borrowing from) can be purchased by non-KS backers, assuming Soda Pop has the inventory.

CMoN has gone the other way. The money way. It is proudly saying to gamers that if you don't pay us now you are a turd. And turds don't get to play our games in full.

I hate this. I really do.
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robbydee wrote:

And I realized that the only thing weird about this is that a game company has finally decided to put profit potential over all other considerations.

Why, if this way of doing business is so fine, are companies like Soda Pop loudly proclaiming that they will NEVER EVER do this to their customers?

CMoN has gone the other way. The money way. It is proudly saying to gamers that if you don't pay us now you are a turd. And turds don't get the whole shebang.


I'm with you on a dislike of limited-time promotional figures, especially game-altering ones.

That said, I disagree with what you're saying. I think there are three groups here, and I also think that people around here use "Capitalism" as a reason without actually realizing how little that says, and how much more subtlety there is to the debate:

1) Companies that think the limited-time promos will make them more money than not having them.
2) Companies that think the limited-time promos will not make them more money than having them.
3) Companies that think it's close enough that they're willing to forgo those extra profits to "be nice" to their customers.

A lot of people want to split group 1 into 2 groups - one who is purely motivated by profit, and one that is, for some reason, malicious. But I don't see that as the case - they just have a model that they believe maximizes profits. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to change their minds, you'll have to skip over buying the game, as that's the only way to convince them that the practice is losing them money.

I think groups 2 and 3 are subtly different - and the motivation is the difference. One group (2) thinks being nice to their customers is a means to maximizing profits, by generating good will and also allowing people who are completionists to hop in to the system later. The other is actually taking on policies because they want to be consumer-friendly, and any money gained or lost is secondary to that.

So it's not a matter of niceness vs. capitalism, or anything like that. It's always a matter of money - one group of content producers thinking that promos make them money; the other thinking that it won't. And a third that finds the cost to be equal to or less than the cost of what they view to be their integrity.
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Rob Defense
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Good points, but I'd rather Group #1 not become dominate. I think it IS malicious in that it preys upon certain gamers' personality quirks/flaws (collect 'em all!).

I don't want to want CMoN games. But I do, and CMoN knows this. So, I'm a turd.
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robbydee wrote:
Good points, but I'd rather Group #1 not become dominate. I think it IS malicious in that it preys upon certain gamers' personality quirks/flaws (collect 'em all!).

I don't want to want CMoN games. But I do, and CMoN knows this. So, I'm a turd.


Oh, I agree - I've argued as much for quite some time around here. But I feel the motivation is greed more than malice.

*And I don't even know that "greed" is the right word. Maybe profit motivation?
 
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Rob Defense
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I think you're right. Malice is too strong. Greed is the right word. I talked to a few Soda Pop/Ninja Division guys at Gen Con and they clearly were uncomfortable with the greed aspect. It'll probably cost them a bunch of dough. But I bet CMoN has a more limited life span. One bad KS game could spell doom.
 
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robbydee wrote:
I talked to a few Soda Pop/Ninja Division guys at Gen Con and they clearly were uncomfortable with the greed aspect.


Yea, I'd probably put SPM in the 3rd category, believing that it won't cost them enough to justify how they feel about the practice. It's one of the reasons I'd still readily support their KS, but I agonize over every CMoN one.
 
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Andrew Norris
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I have Super Dungeon Explore and both current expansions. But as much as I thought the Forgotten King KS looked cool the idea that I could buy it all retail later meant I didn't back the project.

Arcadia Quest looked cool and were it not for the exclusives I wouldn't have bought in. I think CMON knows what they are doing, like if or not it works to get new different games published. Lots of costs in producing miniatures KS allows them to know they have covered their costs. So for my risk and time spent waiting I want something in return. Soda Pop Miniatures doesn't get my money, no incentives to spend money and wait. I'll wait and keep my money.

Not getting in is a bummer for those that didn't hear about it, but there are plenty of times you miss out on things because you didn't hear about it or didn't have the money. Life is full of choices and consequences. I have backed exactly one KS, Arcadia Quest, and only because it looked cool and had a lot of exclusives and extras. I pass on most the KS campaigns because there is nothing in it for me over waiting for retail. Any discount many give is nothing more than the discount you get online from most retailers. Why would I back the campaign and risk money and time for little to no benefit. It may be capitalism but that doesn't make it bad, rather just good business.

Should I be mad that soda pop miniatures wanted me to back a new version of the game to update my old copy to the new editions. New cards etc. nah it is a solid business decision. Didn't work on me but probably others. They were leveraging their installed base so to speak. Am I mad, nah it's just business. Arcadia quest is new and needs to attract new people, give me an incentive, standard economics and marketing.
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Lester Festertester
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Honestly did we need a new thread for this when the OP started this one
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1211078/expansions
Look there will ALWAYS be games that we will miss out on. At any one time there are 10 games on KS that I would love to back, but I cannot back themm all. CMON and TONNES of other projects know this, and use exclusives to get people to consider backing them. All you can do, rather than starting numerous threads complaining about the same thing is nove on and never buy a game from CMON ever again. Thats it.
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Shifty203 1
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robbydee wrote:
Why, if this way of doing business is so fine, are companies like Soda Pop loudly proclaiming that they will NEVER EVER do this to their customers? Super Dungeon Explore (which Arcadia Quest clearly is borrowing from) can be purchased by non-KS backers, assuming Soda Pop has the inventory.

CMoN has gone the other way. The money way. It is proudly saying to gamers that if you don't pay us now you are a turd. And turds don't get to play our games in full.

I hate this. I really do.


A. You can still play the game. There's nothing wrong with the base game without all the exclusives, and who's to say you, or anyone else would actually buy all the extras later?

B. This is exactly why I backed AQ, and not SDE. Since there are no exclusives can pick up the SDE stuff later, at retail, probably cheaper.

Its not the companies fault that they are catering to what the gamers want. If people didn't support projects that had exclusives, companies would stop doing it. Unfortunately for you, gamers seem to like them.
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Rick S
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You could always use SDE or impact models as proxies for the AQ exclusives...
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shifty203 wrote:

Its not the companies fault that they are catering to what the gamers want. If people didn't support projects that had exclusives, companies would stop doing it. Unfortunately for you, gamers seem to like them.


Completely agreed. Down to it being unfortunate ;-).

I dislike the practice, and I do think it's very unfriendly to both consumers who purchase the promos and those who don't. But that's an opinion, and one that a large segment of the population doesn't share. If I'm in the minority, I can accept that.

But I'll keep stating my preferences, in the hopes that tides will change.
 
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Rob Defense
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Awesome post, Lester Festertester. A much-needed reply. Except for the "there will always be games we will miss out on" part. You just made that up. That's a brand-new phenomenon.
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Jason Rupp
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Like i've said before... Nothing is stopping you from purchasing the game. It's completely playable and they are even releasing a character pack if you want more. You don't NEED the KS characters.

I'm sure you can download the KS expansion. You won't have the minis but you can still proxy. If you want the minis there is ebay. No need to avoid this game just because you can't have it all... This isn't the first case of KS exclusive content.
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Rob Defense
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I don't NEED any games. I can proxy all games with pennies and graph paper. Is that what you do?
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robbydee wrote:
Awesome post, Lester Festertester. A much-needed reply. Except for the "there will always be games we will miss out on" part. You just made that up. That's a brand-new phenomenon.

Really? Then where can I buy Warhammer Quest at retail price? When was the last time you saw it in a store at retail price?
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rrrrupp wrote:
Like i've said before... Nothing is stopping you from purchasing the game.


There is - his desire to own all the content. While you might not share that desire, I would hope you could at least view it as a reasonable one.
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The need to own "all the things" is exactly why I backed AQ. It's also the reason I bought the Founder's Pack for Marvel Heroes ARPG months before the game released. Sometimes you just have to gamble on if something will be worth your investment. The jury is still out on AQ, but most other things I've backed (all with either exclusive content or massive bang for the buck) have turned out well.

As for not knowing about it, maybe turn your BGG ads back on. AQ was in HEAVY rotation on the ads on this site. I think that's how I learned about it. I also saw some preview video for it that sold me on it. The point is, it was out there, not some hidden secret.

I think inherently I don't agree with the practice, but on the other hand, having stuff I can't buy in the retail version as perks for the KS, IS the reason I back their project. As has been said, if I could just get everything anyway, I'd buy it online at a 30% discount.

I suppose that makes me a miniature venture capitalist.
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Rick Vinyard
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robbydee wrote:
Awesome post, Lester Festertester. A much-needed reply. Except for the "there will always be games we will miss out on" part. You just made that up. That's a brand-new phenomenon.

I missed out when Avalon Hill offered the Civilization Western Extension Map.

Fortunately, I got the Kingmaker Variant Event Cards. They provide a much needed balance to help prevent players from taking an heir to Calais and turtling.

In the gaming industry, I'm not sure anything that involves AH can really be considered brand-new.
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Idaho11 wrote:
rrrrupp wrote:
Like i've said before... Nothing is stopping you from purchasing the game.


There is - his desire to own all the content. While you might not share that desire, I would hope you could at least view it as a reasonable one.


He can own all the content. What you mean is his desire to own all the content at a price lower than that which will be determined by the market. Reasonable is subjective, instead I'd call that an understandable desire. We'd all like to get more for less and we all hate realising we've missed out on something.
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Rob Defense
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Mandor wrote:

Really? Then where can I buy Warhammer Quest at retail price? When was the last time you saw it in a store at retail price?


Warhammer Quest was available in game stores. I know because I spent way too much money to buy it, and all of the extra characters I could get my completionist hands on, in 1996. It's just out of print, That's different.

Arcadia Quest: The Nameless Campaign never will be available retail.

Has there ever before been a boxed game that never was available retail?

Either way, as Mr. Idaho said, no one is going to change their opinions on this. Sorry to vent. Lesson learned: Shame on me for not educating myself on how CMoN handles Kickstarters. Shame on my for not realizing how many gamers actually love the way CMoN operates.

I'll stick with Super Dungeon Explore to scratch my chibi dungeon crawl itch and buy SDE extras speedyquick when they come out.
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Jason Rupp
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Rob,

If you have a major issue with the way they did the AQ KS, send them a polite note about how you have an issue with it. They aren't trying to piss people off so they may change how they do things in the future (they'll still do promo survivors but they may learn that a mini-expansion crosses the line).

That said, I don't understand skipping a game that sounds like your dream game just because you can't purchase promo content at retail. If it ends up being your favorite game, purchase the content on ebay. You don't need the extra heroes though... there will be retail packs of heroes to expand your game. As for the mini-expansion, I agree they went a bit over the line on that account. However, it's only 3 new unique figures so it's EASY to proxy but if you refuse to do that, I'm guessing you'll be able to pick it up on ebay for $50? You act like it's impossible to pick up now that you missed the KS.
 
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robbydee wrote:
Has there ever before been a boxed game that never was available retail?

Throughout the years, there have always been a number of games that were available only through direct sales. Usually, small publishers, but sometimes not.

I mentioned above two items that were generally available only through mail from Avalon Hill.

There have always been a number of promos and expansions that were limited to attendants of certain events, by direct mail, etc. BGG's store has broken down that barrier a bit.

I don't think the exclusivity practice is new to the industry with CMoN. I've never liked it, but it won't begin and end with CMoN.
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Jason Rupp
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and just a FYI.... AQ is NOT a dungeon crawl so if that's the type of game you're after... you're going to be disappointed anyway This isn't CMoN's version of Super Dungeon Explore. They may have similar art, but the games are vastly different. It's a PvPvE game that honestly focuses more on the PvP than the PvE.
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Rob Defense
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rvinyard wrote:
robbydee wrote:
Has there ever before been a boxed game that never was available retail?

Throughout the years, there have always been a number of games that were available only through direct sales. Usually, small publishers, but sometimes not.

I mentioned above two items that were generally available only through mail from Avalon Hill.

There have always been a number of promos and expansions that were limited to attendants of certain events, by direct mail, etc. BGG's store has broken down that barrier a bit.

I don't think the exclusivity practice is new to the industry with CMoN. I've never liked it, but it won't begin and end with CMoN.


I guess what I meant to say wasn't "retail" but rather "for sale." Has there ever been a boxed game that the publisher never offered for sale?
 
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rrrrupp wrote:
I agree they went a bit over the line on that account. However, it's only 3 new unique figures so it's EASY to proxy


The nameless campaign has six unique sculps, and we are getting six extra models to use as heroes...
 
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