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Subject: A valid question on game pricing. rss

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Aaron Gelb
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I don't understand why wargames, which are no more than rules, paper hex maps and cardboard chits, cost so much...40 dollars on up! Is the markup that high? The materials can't be that expensive, can they?

It doesn't make the matter any better when you see some euro and ameritrash games, chalk full of huge, heavy boards and beautiful plastic pieces, cards, heavy big boxes, for the same price or cheaper. It just doesn't make sense to me.

The only thing I can think of is that since they are published by smaller publishers, and less copies are printed, the price is higher due to the demand...but I feel it would be easier to mass produce ASL or a similar game than, say, War of the Ring or Attack!, or if not easier, at least cheaper!

Anyone know why this pricing seems backwards?

Thanks!
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...sure...
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Noord Brabant
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I would say: matter of demand. Not as 'big' a market as Euro/Atlantic.

And printing games internationally must make them cheaper: 1 game published by RGG/999/HiG/... is cheaper then by just one publisher.
 
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Bill Gates
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You also should consider the amount of work that goes into researching, designing, developing and (hopefully) playtesting a wargame, particularly an historical one (a plastic miniature of an orc just represents a plastic miniature of an orc; a little cardboard counter representing a Panzer VG tank, Napoleon's Old Guard or the USS Missouri better have values printed upon it that match the actual capabilities of that unit, or a world of grognards is going to rip the design to shreds).

Don Greenwood once mentioned this in The General (or maybe it was a rebuttal in Fire & Movement) after a reviewer complained that the price of a certain AH game was too high considering the quality and amount of the components included ... Greenwood asked why he wasn't supposed to charge for the several months of his life he spent working on the game before it was published. He also pointed out that computer/video game prices "picked up where board wargame prices left off" (at the time), and, since you were only getting a CD and a small printed manual, the cost of the computer game definitely was set by more than the cost of components.
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ɹǝsɐɹɟ
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
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BaSL wrote:
I would say: matter of demand. Not as 'big' a market as Euro/Atlantic.


That and print run sizes, the smaller the print run, the higher the unit cost. Wargames have a much smaller market penetration in general than other games.
 
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Niko Ruf
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I know where you are coming from. Some of these prices are really off-putting.

The main problem seems to be economics of scale. Basically, you have to divide the fixed costs for producing the game (staff, artwork, etc.) by the number of copies sold. So a game that sells 1000 copies has to include costs for "overhead" which are 10 times as high as for one that sells 10000 copies, assuming that they were produced with the same effort.
 
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asgelb wrote:

The only thing I can think of is that since they are published by smaller publishers, and less copies are printed, the price is higher due to the demand...


The price is driven by the quantity produced (setup time on the machines spread across each game), cycle time (time on the machine per game), and the cost of the components (a constant).
 
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Paul DeStefano
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LankyEngineer wrote:
and the cost of the components (a constant).


Actully, this as a variable is the largest reason war games cost so much.

Its a niche market. In smaller runs, printing costs a tremendous amount sompared to larger runs.

Its not uncommon that to get 500 of Item X costs $1500. To get 600 costs $1800. Then at 5000 it costs $10000 and 5100 costs $10010. The first 100s cost around $300, but later 100s cost $10.

If you're hasbro, printing 100,000 pieces, the per piece price becomes embarassingly tiny in comparison to a company running 1500 pieces.
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Oh you seekers of the new who run terrified from history into the clutches of an eternal life where no electric shaver can be built to last.
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    . . . and to a certain extent it's what the market will bear. Given the number of hours of entertainment you get out of the game, multiplied by the number of people playing, it's really still not that bad a price per entertainment hour.

    You spend eight dollars on a movie per person and it lasts ninety minutes. But you make the investment because it's only eight dollars. With a board game you need to get past the shelf price and consider the return on investment in the long term. That's harder to do, but likely a better use of the money.

    Game developers could give you cheesy pieces (black ink on thick paper and a paper board -- you bring your own dice) and save on the cost of manufacture and sale. They make the pieces of better quality and charge more in hopes that you'll overcome your purchase barrier for the pretty box. For war games, the balance lies in between.

    Consider the used market -- lots of gems out there for less money.

             Sag.


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David Helms
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Sagrilarus wrote:
    . . . and to a certain extent it's what the market will bear.

Spoken like a true marketing person... or at least someone who has had a marketing class. The bottom line is niche + costs + production time = expensive game.
 
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Rik Van Horn
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You also have to bear in mind ALL business costs.
Design
Planning
Graphics
Testing
Marketing
Office costs
Shipping
Legal
The list goes on and on.

The comparison to computer games is apt.
A company like Blizzard spent a LOT of money designing and marketing Diablo II.
They also spent a lot of money to manufacture the initial CD's.
When Diablo II first came out it sold for $50-$60, despite the fact the materials involved cost maybe $1-2 tops.
Now you can buy it for $20, as production costs have been met.
But even at $20 it's still at least 10 times the material cost.

Wargames sell a microfraction of what Diablo II did.

So yeah, that $40 they charge is actually a fair price.

Oh and even PC game companies have a tough time staying in business, because the profit margin is so small. Look at companiies like Black Isle or Looking Glass that made ground breaking, classic games like Baldur's Gate ot Thief.
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Paul M
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You should also consider resale value. Buying the average new game is NOT like buying a new car or a CD, because the game does not lose 20% of its value as soon as you punch it and play it once or twice. A lot of Splotter games are $90 or more, but I know I've got a game that is worth close to $90 or more even after I punch and play it, because Splotter makes good games. A lot of games are like that.

During my gaming life, several games which I bought and later sold actually went UP in value even after I opened them and played them a few times (Schnappchen Jagd, Wallenstein, Samurai Swords, TTR Mystery Train, Bang High Noon, Stephenson's Rocket, 1830, Rail Baron, the list could go on). There are games which eat your money, like collectible games (miniatures or cards), card games and BAD games, but if you're buying good games and taking care of them you have nothing to worry about. At that point, the debate becomes "Do I want a $50 game or two $25 games", which is off-topic.
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Chad Egbert
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I can agree with both sides of this debate, but who would pay $400 for ANY boardgame? surprise

Victory in the Pacific is overpriced for any game in my opinion, even if it does contain over 3,000 counters.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/22843

 
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Martin Stever
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On a similar note, I recently bought a textbook: $109...geez, it's just paper

I recently went to a movie: $9...geez, it's just a roll of plastic on a spindle with a sound track

I had coffee at Starbucks: $4.60...geez, it's really just water and diluted coffee beans plus heat

I'm getting ready to pay my taxes: $BIG BUCKS...well I think my point is clear without a diatribe on why I'm not clear why I'm paying for some senator's friend's fishing lodge in Mississippi, among other things.
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Jesse Morrow
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Its all about intellectual property. The expensive portion of any game is not the printing and making of little bits but the coming up eith the idea. Like software or as above the texbook or movie. Starbucks is scamming you - go to locally run coffee shop.
My time and effort spent on creation is worth a great deal.
This is something I will get back in the sale of the item; therefore there will be a portion of the price that will pay for the item. If I was paying the dude who came up with apples for apples - i'd have to pay him like a nickle a copy. But, if it was a game with a short run the portion of idea and initial typesetting, et al would be larger as a portion of price. Therefore, to just cover costs would be forced to charge more.
there is also some descriminatory pricing as well, but that's for my microecon lecture later in the semester.
 
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Aaron Gelb
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MartinStever wrote:
On a similar note, I recently bought a textbook: $109...geez, it's just paper

I recently went to a movie: $9...geez, it's just a roll of plastic on a spindle with a sound track

I had coffee at Starbucks: $4.60...geez, it's really just water and diluted coffee beans plus heat

I'm getting ready to pay my taxes: $BIG BUCKS...well I think my point is clear without a diatribe on why I'm not clear why I'm paying for some senator's friend's fishing lodge in Mississippi, among other things.


granted, all true, except for the movie part. The theaters gouge us because the studios gouge them. The cost for a movie theater to ''rent'' the film roll and show it in their theater is extremely expensive. They have to charge a lot to offset the multi million dollar production costs.
The only way for a theater to profit is to rape us on snacks and tickets.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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It's simple economics. There's a supply curve (what it costs companies to provide the product) and a demand curve (how much of it people will want at a given price). When determining print runs and setting prices, a company will obviously try to maximize its profit. While it can accurately predict supply costs, it has to guess at the demand. Sometimes, a company gets it right and sometimes they get it wrong.
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Jesse Morrow
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I'm soryy Niko answered the same way I did. But much much much better!
 
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