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Scythe» Forums » General

Subject: Why do Stonemaier games consistently underestimate demand? rss

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John Reynolds
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This game is already sold out before it hits shelves, much like every other game they've produced, ever.

My question is, why? When will you guys learn that people like your games, and would like to purchase them?

Yes, I'm bitter.

In all Seriousness though, when will this actually be in stock? Are we waiting on a reprint?
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James Williams
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You're saying that like estimation is easy! It's impossible to estimate exactly (coming from someone who has to estimate tasks every day).

It's better for SG to underestimate and have to produce more, than overestimate and have a lot of excess stock sitting around taking up space and money that could've been better spent elsewhere.
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David Mitchell
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I think they do a very good job of estimating. It's called Kickstarter.
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Eric Hartnett
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dlminsac wrote:
I think they do a very good job of estimating. It's called Kickstarter.


Exactly. And they produced extra copies beyond Kickstarter that went on sale August 1st so there have been opportunities. I'm sure a new print run is in the works, it'll just take time.
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Chris Hewlett
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It sucks waiting for a game, especially in the age of the internet where you can read reviews and watch games online while not having your copy. Maybe spare a thought for those people not living in the US who frequently have to wait 6-12 months (or more) after a game's US release to see it in their country - you don't know how lucky you have it most of the time.

I am not part of the company at all, but here are a couple of thoughts:

1. Previous demand is not always future demand. Margins in games are also not great. Over production with a low demand could ruin the profitability of an entire game. It's much easier to complain about this when it isn't our money/livelihood on the line and we don't have to shoulder the risk.

2. Production happens before sales. So the size of the first run (units in excess of kick-starter orders which will go to retail) is limited by how much capital is available upfront (you might need the sales from the first print run to finance the second run).

The good news is that this game was kick-started, so anyone who wanted to guarantee their copy in the first print run was able to do so. As a kick-starter, you can:
- Provide upfront cash to finance the first printing; while also
- Reducing some the risk SM Games has to shoulder, by providing them better demand indicators.
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Scott Neilitz
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I think I remember Jamie talking about this on a podcast or some interview. He admitted that errs on the side of being conservative after Kickstarters. I remember him saying he prints half the number of retail copies as kickstarter copies, whereas other publishers do much more. Warehouse costs are pretty high so unsold games can eat up a large chunk of the margin on games, from what I understand.
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Dan Ridge
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Nearly 18,000 backers so what would you estimate the production run was? 25,000 copies? I'm sure it will go for a reprint but how many would you commission for a reprint? I can see the publishers dilemma when considering a reprint. There is demand but how much? What a terrifying meta game!
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Richard Sampson
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Isn't a reprint coming in October?

Edit: Yes http://stonemaiergames.com/buy-scythe/
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Reed Dawley
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Even big giant companies that have been making games make mistakes, look at how Heroscape died. That was made by Hasbro, technically Milton Bradley manufactured them, but they have whole teams of bean counters and they still goofed it up, people bought one of each unique and as many of they could of the common units. Stores had boxes and boxes of back stock and the game died partially because of this.

Take a smaller company without a giant accounting department, they will always err on the side of caution. Not aiming for reduced supply to increase demand but instead just covering costs. Hasbro can afford to take a big loss on unsold stock but I do not think Stonemaier Games can do the same nor should they have to.
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Paul Ferguson
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They are a few copies at my game shop in Australia. I don't see that he under estimated how many to print. Most successful games sell less than 5,000 copies. I see the issue more of one a lack of patience combined with hype rolled into you are not missing out on anything innovative.
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Steve Sena
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Maybe their crystal ball needs re-calibrated?
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Frank Hamrick
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itmo wrote:
They are a few copies at my game shop in Australia. I don't see that he under estimated how many to print. Most successful games sell less than 5,000 copies. I see the issue more of one a lack of patience combined with hype rolled into you are not missing out on anything innovative.


Who cares about "innovative." I've seen my share of "innovative" that was pure ugly and boring.

I've also seen plenty of games that combined already used mechanics that were beautiful and just plain fun.

But that's beside the point, actually. Scythe does have many really wonderful mechanics: a) "upgrading" that reduces costs of one action and increases gains of other actions; b) Slotted holders to indicate where technology, buildings, workers, and recruits go; c) "special 'river-crossing' hexes differing with each faction; d) a combo race/action-selection/point-scoring system; e) awesome mechs and characters that intensify the threat of war more than the actual conflict (very similar to cold-war politics in recent history). I could go on and on. Are some of those things in other games. Of course, but what does that have to do with ANYTHING?! It's the joy of the game that counts, and Scythe brings that joy, tension, and IMO, great innovation in spades! Yes, you are missing out on something special. But that's just my opinion.
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bort
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JohnnyR wrote:
This game is already sold out before it hits shelves, much like every other game they've produced, ever.


If you know this - why didnt you buy it thru the kickstarter?
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Sky Zero
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bortmonkey wrote:
JohnnyR wrote:
This game is already sold out before it hits shelves, much like every other game they've produced, ever.


If you know this - why didnt you buy it thru the kickstarter?


Best response ever
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John Reynolds
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bortmonkey wrote:
JohnnyR wrote:
This game is already sold out before it hits shelves, much like every other game they've produced, ever.


If you know this - why didnt you buy it thru the kickstarter?


I don't ever buy games before there are at least some reviews/impressions, additionally, perhaps I wasn't clear, but most of my post was in jest. I just wanted to find out when the reprint was coming.
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Richard Sampson
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JohnnyR wrote:
I just wanted to find out when the reprint was coming.
Not sure if you saw my response above, but the answer is October.
 
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Jamey Stegmaier
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John: I'm glad that you want to purchase our games! Hopefully I can help clear up some misconceptions here.

Misconception #1: Our games sell out before they hit the shelves.

We've never had pre-orders for a game equal the total number of games produced. For Scythe, there were about 3,500 retail games released to retailers and sold at Gen Con.

Misconception #2: That all of our games are always difficult to get.

For the first print runs of our games, we often rely on systems that estimate first-run demand, like Kickstarter or pre-orders. It's quite expensive to invest in making thousands of games, especially an expensive game like Scythe.

However, we always make enough second-run copies of our games to last a while. Euphoria was in stock for about 9 months until recently selling out; Between Two Cities was restocked a few months ago with very little time between printings, and Viticulture tends to stay in stock for about 3 months before selling out. We tend to make between 3,000 and 6,000 copies of each of those games every time we print them.

Misconception #3: That we don't know that people like our games or want to purchase them.

I think this comment was tongue-in-cheek, but just to be clear, while I continue to be humbled that people like you want our games, I'm certainly aware of it.

Misconception #4: That information about future printings isn't available.

I always try to keep our website up-to-date with information about upcoming printings. In the case of Scythe, there's information about the upcoming reprint on this page (http://stonemaiergames.com/buy-scythe/). I also update this image monthly (both on our e-newsletter and this page: http://stonemaiergames.com/e-newsletter/)

Thanks for the opportunity to address your concerns!
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John Reynolds
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jameystegmaier wrote:
John: I'm glad that you want to purchase our games! Hopefully I can help clear up some misconceptions here.

Misconception #1: Our games sell out before they hit the shelves.

We've never had pre-orders for a game equal the total number of games produced. For Scythe, there were about 3,500 retail games released to retailers and sold at Gen Con.

Misconception #2: That all of our games are always difficult to get.

For the first print runs of our games, we often rely on systems that estimate first-run demand, like Kickstarter or pre-orders. It's quite expensive to invest in making thousands of games, especially an expensive game like Scythe.

However, we always make enough second-run copies of our games to last a while. Euphoria was in stock for about 9 months until recently selling out; Between Two Cities was restocked a few months ago with very little time between printings, and Viticulture tends to stay in stock for about 3 months before selling out. We tend to make between 3,000 and 6,000 copies of each of those games every time we print them.

Misconception #3: That we don't know that people like our games or want to purchase them.

I think this comment was tongue-in-cheek, but just to be clear, while I continue to be humbled that people like you want our games, I'm certainly aware of it.

Misconception #4: That information about future printings isn't available.

I always try to keep our website up-to-date with information about upcoming printings. In the case of Scythe, there's information about the upcoming reprint on this page (http://stonemaiergames.com/buy-scythe/). I also update this image monthly (both on our e-newsletter and this page: http://stonemaiergames.com/e-newsletter/)

Thanks for the opportunity to address your concerns!


Thanks Jamey - I should have made my tone more clear in the original post, I'm just poking a bit of fun at the fact that your games are so incredibly popular (deservedly so) that you have trouble keeping them on the shelves for long.

I'm a big fan of your designs, and Scythe is no exception. I've been playing it on TTS (an excellent port for the cost I might add) which will tide me over until I can get my hands on physical copy.

Thanks again!
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Thanks John! I figured it was at least partially tongue in cheek, though your comment just happened to follow a much more aggressive comment from someone on my company blog a few days ago who seemed to think we were purposely ignoring demand, so I wanted to address this seriously just in case.
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Ian Liddle
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What I want to know is why more FLGS didn't demand their distributor secure enough copies for their customers, especially after you told them you were interested / excited about Scythe.

... You did tell your FLGS about Scythe so they could stock it, right? Right?
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Danny Perello
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albino_penguin wrote:
The good news is that this game was kick-started, so anyone who wanted to guarantee their copy in the first print run was able to do so.

I've been thinking about this, and have some thoughts and questions for anyone interested...

Much has been said by Asmodee North America about how online sales are minimal when compared to Brick and Mortar sales. For now lets assume that's true. If online sales are a small portion of all sales, how much smaller would that make Kickstarter sales? Kickstarter campaigns generally run a month or so, so not only would you have to be willing to buy a game sight unseen, but you'd actually have to be aware of the Kickstarter in a comparatively small window of time. It's true that Stonemaier Games did a really good job of promoting Scythe even before the Kickstarter started running, but again if online sales are only a fraction of all sales then Kickstarter campaigns can never come close to covering demand, especially if the game turns out to be a good one.

A quick addition of Scythe's Kickstarter page shows that a little over 17,000 copies were backed. I guess the real information needed here would be how many of those were bought by retailers to be sold in their Brick and Mortar stores. It would be interesting to know...

Of course there's always the possibility that Asmodee isn't being truthful about the ratio of online sales and simply trying to obfuscate, but that's another conversation entirely.

Anyone have any inside information they'd be willing to share?
 
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Josh Ward
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Relax wrote:
[q="albino_penguin"]Much has been said by Asmodee North America about how online sales are minimal when compared to Brick and Mortar sales.


Asmodee also sells through Target stores at least in the US. that probably helps their B&M sales a lot, as compared to publishers that rely on dedicated game stores.
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Scythe's first print run was for 26,000 games. 21,000 of them were Kickstarter games. Of those 21,000, retailers backed (or people bought through retailers, which we encouraged) 2,000 copies.
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John Bradshaw
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JohnnyR wrote:
I don't ever buy games before there are at least some reviews/impressions


Do bear in mind that if we all did that, then no more games would be made!

 
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Ben Rubinstein

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I passed on this Kickstarter, as I didn't love Viticulture. I played a friend's Scythe KS copy, and decided I liked it enough to order it. That was about 2 weeks before initial distribution. I got my game with the first shipment of retail games. So, for me, it didn't seem hard to obtain at all!
 
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