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Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » General

Subject: Personal thoughts on GF9's handling of the launch rss

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Aaron Marshall
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As we enter the middle of October there have been numerous reports here that Star Trek Ascendancy has been out in limited circulation at various outlets ranging from small, local hobby shops to Amazon for some time now. For those of us who pre-ordered the game (in my case back in early August...when the ETA was still "August") on sites like Miniature Market or CSI, however, not only have those stores still not received the game, but the silence on exactly when we might expect our orders to be filled has been deafening.

Now obviously this is a tabletop game and a piece of entertainment, not a life or death issue. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't (and hasn't already) have some serious implications and consequences for the parties involved. I've been monitoring the forum here for any new information for months, and I've been seeing some folks saying they gave up and cancelled their pre-orders at (insert site name here) and purchased STA either locally or via Amazon (and typically at the full $100-plus MSRP).

First, these people who put down good money for pre-orders have given up and paid as much as $30-40 more than what they paid at the likes of Miniature Market or CSI. Their choice to be fair, but there's no denying they/we should have rightfully had first dibs; after all, that's the whole point of pre-ordering to begin with. And as for the speculation that GF9 is giving those "discounted" sites lower priority because they aren't making the full Benjamin you'd have to pay at their own store, I highly doubt that to be the case (and if it is heads should roll because that would be VERY unethical). At any rate, Miniature Market and CSI pay GF9 and their other vendors an agreed-upon price for each copy of the products they carry (please keep in mind that these sites still make a profit from each copy sold, meaning the markup on STA at GF9's own site is absurd), and they tend to buy in bulk hence the discounts they're able to pass on to consumers.

That said, the situation is what it is, and the wait and the interminable silence is testing consumers' patience and costing these sites real money. The sites in question order their allotments based upon expected sales, and then fill pre-orders with what they've allotted until they're sold out. When it works as it should (meaning those pre-orders get first priority and the folks in question don't end up hearing about a product being in circulation weeks...and counting...before they get it), it's simple and everyone is happy. When it doesn't, however, folks get antsy, and that creates a domino effect. Every time someone cancels a pre-order, that's a copy of a product that MM or CSI is stuck with unless they happen to find another buyer...and when you're talking a $60-80 product too many of those refunds and "reshelved" merchandise can make a huge impact on your business. Fair or not, trust is being broken here, and people tend to blame the party they have the most direct contact with.

I know GF9 monitors this forum because they've regularly been courteous enough to provide input on various topics here. This is a situation that is slowly going from merely mildly inconvenient to ugly from a buyer's perception standpoint, and it's time for some damage control in the form of some concrete information about exactly when these sites and those of us who've pre-ordered STA through them will be getting our copies. Some things...like consumer trust...don't have a price tag. We need to hear from you on this to know A) this matter will get resolved and B) that it won't be happening again.
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Sean Shaw
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For me, not getting the pre-order yet is NOT a big deal. Right now, at least.

Did I ponder about going and getting another copy...absolutely.

But that's my own anxiousness.

The thing is seeing others get it and not having it myself. That gives me temptation, but that's my own weakness and not something that's a problem with the publisher or distributors.

The ONLY thing that might irk me a little is that while some stores are getting it and having it in store (no pre-order needed), the pre-orders of others have not yet been filled.

It probably is a distributor thing, especially when there are two stores in the same city and one has it on the shelves and the other can't even fill their pre-orders.

It's not even a cost thing, as those stores charge the same amount at times.

But overall, it's not that LOONG of a wait..yet. Now, if it gets to be MONTHS or more, I might gripe, but this long thus far...not that big of a deal.

I think a bigger deal is that those who got it at the Con supposedly got space stations while those of us who did not, whether we could or could not go or otherwise, get nothing.

But that's also water under the bridge, so...I'm just hoping to get the game some day.

Meanwhile I have other games I can play...
 
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Scott Everts
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It's funny you posted this. I was at a local game store last weekend and they had 3 copies of Ascendancy available for sale priced at $100. I've had the game on pre-order from CSI since June 12th. I seriously considered buying the game and cancelling my pre-order. But I finally decided to wait since my game group has so many games to play and waiting another month or two isn't going to kill us.

But for the 2 upcoming expansions, I'll probably just order those from Amazon. The reason being is getting a 3 player only game to the table is very hard but 4-5 is a lot easier. So waiting months longer for those would be harder. And another reason getting the base game later isn't a big deal since we might not actually play it until the expansions come out!
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Duane Crago
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I pre-ordered at CSI and I wouldn't blame them for the delays. I have never had an issue with CSI with things in the past so no reason I would hold them responsible for the current situation with this game.

I haven't canceled the pre-order yet, but I am starting to lean towards doing so as I have a few other games on that order. I could just step away from Ascendancy even though I have been looking forward to it and toss the other games in with one or two other ones and get those instead.nnI'll probably hold off on that for a bit longer, but likely if there is no sign of shipping within the next week or two I will probably act on it.
 
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Doug Poskitt
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I pre-ordered my game in mid-August here in the UK.

In mid-September I received an e-mail from my OLGS saying that there was a distribution problem and that the estimated release date (30th Sept) was now estimated at mid-October.

That in itself is no big deal. I can wait a couple extra weeks. What does intrigue me is that some game stores (be it in the USA or the UK) have it and some don't.

Given that the number of pre-orders may well be significant, GF9 should, imo, have the curtesy to post some kind of update on their website to account for the delays in a game originally scheduled for release in summer 2016.

Companies rely on their customers to purchase their games, otherwise they would go out of business. GF9 must appreciate that an awful lot of dollars/pounds/other currencies have been dropped on pre-orders; those customers have parted with their money way, way in advance of the game being released. If the release date comes and goes, then why don't companies do the decent thing and inform their customers of the reason for the delay and at least give some indication of when they can expect to take delivery? It doesn't cost them anything to treat their customers with a little curtesy and respect.
 
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Angelus Seniores
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GF9 should indeed have anticipated a bit better the delivery of the game, but i find its only normal that FLGS get theirs first as for them visibility of the game on display is much more important than for webshops.
 
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Jon Snow
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In general I try to keep in mind that sometimes companies don't answer because they just don't know themselves what the deal is yet with shipments from overseas. With one Kickstarter I remember they were actually tracking a particular container ship from China as it sailed, with photos of the ship and a chart of its daily progress! But ultimately, there is often nothing they can do but wait like us.
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Eric
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Angelsenior wrote:
GF9 should indeed have anticipated a bit better the delivery of the game


How is that even done? Should they predict the weather as well? shake
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Gary Masters
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Chumley11 wrote:
Angelsenior wrote:
GF9 should indeed have anticipated a bit better the delivery of the game


How is that even done? Should they predict the weather as well? shake


The same way that companies that make movies, music or videogames know when they're going to be released?
 
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Angelus Seniores
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Chumley11 wrote:
Angelsenior wrote:
GF9 should indeed have anticipated a bit better the delivery of the game


How is that even done? Should they predict the weather as well? shake


i find that companies often portray the most positive forecast while in general its the most negative that often comes to be.

and even then, often fail to take necessary steps to ensure the positive forecast becomes true at all.

this is not about prediction at all, but about taking a reasonable margin of error into account and taking additional steps to make the process as smooth as possible.
 
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Chris J Davis
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Gazbowski wrote:
Chumley11 wrote:
Angelsenior wrote:
GF9 should indeed have anticipated a bit better the delivery of the game


How is that even done? Should they predict the weather as well? shake


The same way that companies that make movies, music or videogames know when they're going to be released?


Which is normally done by sales embargo until a set release date. So you would end up getting your games later.
 
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Vedran Bileta
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Does it bother me? Yes. Can I live with it. For now at least, yes. However, GF9 should be learning from this example, as indeed, late August ETA (Wayland Games UK), is now late October. Hopefully...
 
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David Jones
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AtlantisAuthor wrote:
For those of us who pre-ordered the game (in my case back in early August...when the ETA was still "August") on sites like Miniature Market or CSI, however, not only have those stores still not received the game... these people who put down good money for pre-orders have given up and paid as much as $30-40 more than what they paid at the likes of Miniature Market or CSI. Their choice to be fair, but there's no denying they/we should have rightfully had first dibs;


You seem to be under some sort of delusion that pre-order copies are an agreement between the buyer and GF9. They are not. It is an agreement between you and the retailer/reseller that you will get the first copy that they get. GF9 did not make a contract with you. There are no dibs. To claim that you have a "right" to a particular box that comes off the production line is, frankly, bullshit. You cannot hold a publisher responsible for a contract you made with a reseller. (If this were a kickstarter, that would be a different thing, but in this case it isn't.)

Where I will possibly admit that you have a legitimate gripe is that it isn't really clear who or why certain distributors are getting the early copies and why the others are not. I realize that preferential treatment exists in every part of the retail industry, so its not like this is big news. Similarly, at some point somebody had to make a decision about where to send the limited copies that were available even though that meant hurting some while helping others. It would nice if they had found a more even way to distribute the copies they had but, similar to my comment above, the logic behind distribution channels is complex and GF9 probably has limited control (if any) over how that is handled. But it does create the problem that, I think, you really want to complain about which is that preorders are essentially being filled based on where you live or who you ordered from. In particular, there are often comments on BGG about whether we should be buying from the big wholesalers like CSI vs supporting our FLGS. I am friends with the owner of my FLGS and its a bit disheartening to see that he isn't getting business from this game while other retailers are. But fair or not, that is just how the business works.
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Eon Chao
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GreyLord wrote:

I think a bigger deal is that those who got it at the Con supposedly got space stations while those of us who did not, whether we could or could not go or otherwise, get nothing.

But that's also water under the bridge, so...I'm just hoping to get the game some day.


Speaking to a member of GF9 staff at an event this is something that may be released as an add on down the line for each faction.

I appreciate the frustration with not having a full release yet and even though I already have my copy I keep scanning the solicits for the game every week as others I know want it but it is at least slowly coming out so hopefully you'll all have it soon.
 
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Kyle Collins
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I've been thinking about posting something about this release for a while, and just never have.

In some part, I wonder if the way that a (good) kickstarter campaign works has spoiled many of us board gamers by creating an expectation that we will be kept in the loop. On the other hand, I think that in a situation where the game was due during the summer and still isn't in widespread distribution by mid-October, GF9 could have kept many of us pacified by simply being up front about the delays, and explaining what is going on, along with giving a reasonable expected release date when the first delay came instead of stringing us along with "soon. Ok, not soon then, but now it's soon. For reals."

As it stands, I'll probably not ever pre-order another product from GF9, unless their communication gets better. That's not me being petty, that's me expecting to be able to order things that release about the same time on the same order and not have the entire shipment delayed for months by one game with no communication. Their products are fun and well-made, but I'll have to wait till they actually release if I can't trust their order estimates.
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Nick LAROSA
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Couldn't agree more w/ Kyle. I noticed that CSI has changed the expected release to Oct/Nov 2016 now
 
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Aaron Marshall
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Thanks for the responses and thoughts so far, everyone. As I said in my post, it's not a life or death issue, and honestly I didn't mean to write such a lengthy post about this. What prompted me to do so wasn't just the delay (I too can live with that as I have other things going on), but the complete silence on the part of both GF9 and the resellers while it's clear that some places already have and are selling the game.

To David Jones, my remarks aren't meant to imply that a contract with a reseller is the same as one with GF9. What I mean is that pre-orders (and the sellers which have taken them) indeed should receive the highest priority for distribution. Frankly I have a hard time believing this is merely a distribution problem if Mom and Pop shops are getting copies all over the place (not to mention Amazon, which incidentally is likewise charging the full $100 MSRP) while the likes of MM and CSI somehow haven't heard a word. Something smells fishy about that, and I call 'em as I see 'em.

Your local GameStop and other videogame retailers fill pre-orders first and distribution is geared toward making sure that process stays as solid as possible, and the videogame industry has had that understanding pretty much since such stores have been around. The same principle goes (or should) for board games, if only because game makers should want to reciprocate the support of people who've put their money down upfront, often months in advance. I maintain that GF9 should have placed first priority on getting STA to the distributors for any resellers which took pre-orders. Nothing wrong with expecting first dibs, as I said, if your money and that of many others was on the table before everyone else's. Most industries work that way; apparently this isn't the case with board/tabletop games, but it should be.

And as Kyle stated, if nothing else there should at least be communication happening here so that everyone better understands what's going on.
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I'm excited for my CSI cart to ship,,, the thing that's really making it hard for me to wait is I have warriors of middle earth in the same cart and it's no longer a pre-order!! I thought my cart would be waiting on that release but now it's waiting in gf9 I hope it gets there soon.
 
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Doug Poskitt
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Kyle has very eloquently put forward the point I was trying to make.

My pre-order store here in the UK is now quoting December 2016 as the date now (though maybe they are just being conservative).

I don't think anybody equates their pre-order with their stores as an "agreement" with GF9. What they are complaining about is that GF9 listed the game as due for release in summer 2016 and that may well have influenced their decision to pre-order. (it did mine). Now, we are looking into the void with no clear idea of when it will be available. October? November? December? Take your pick. Given the significant delay between advertised ETA and what is now happening, people have every right to complain about an absence of communication from GF9 on the subject.

It has been mentioned here on BGG that GF9 do frequent the forums. If that is so, they would have an idea that many people here have pre-ordered and have no idea what is happening. So, if anyone from GF9 is reading these threads, how about some form of a heads up on what is happening?

 
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David Jones
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AtlantisAuthor wrote:
my remarks aren't meant to imply that a contract with a reseller is the same as one with GF9. What I mean is that pre-orders (and the sellers which have taken them) indeed should receive the highest priority for distribution.


I think you're missing the point.

First, when you say "should", on what basis are you making this claim? GF9 made no promises to fill preorders first. People who preordered the game did not invest money in the product in order to help it come to market. Once GF9 delivers the product to their distributors, their obligation is ended. By extending that to the end customer, you are invoking some kind of moral imperative that does not exist. Back up your claim. Until you do, this is just a vapid argument.

Second, GF9 doesn't have a list of preorders. They wouldn't know who to send the preorder copies to. On top of that, large game retailers cut costs via bulk shipping. Even if GF9 had the list, routing specific games to specific shops isn't part of their job costing model and it would raise the price of games. For that matter, GF9 can't dictate what distributors do with the product. GF9 sells to distributors, who sell to retailers, who sell to you. I'm willing to bet a lot of money that nothing in the contract between GF9 and the distributors that says GF9 can make the distributor give a certain number of games to specific shops. That's not how retail works. The best GF9 can do is decide which distributor(s) gets the limited copies that are available. After that, they have no control.

Quote:
Frankly I have a hard time believing this is merely a distribution problem if Mom and Pop shops are getting copies all over the place. Something smells fishy about that, and I call 'em as I see 'em.


My pre-order is with a mom and pop and has yet to be fulfilled. Maybe your vision is biased?
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Brad Andrews
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Letting customers pre-order a game and then filling other channels first can create a lot of ill will.

I had no thought about the exact release date. What bothers me is that some have it in their hand (or could via Amazon in the US) while I do not have mine because they have not gotten copies to CSI in this case.

That is an issue they need to keep in mind. Turning players off to the publisher, especially for things without the Star Trek tie-in, would not be good for them.
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David Jones
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andrews777 wrote:
Letting customers pre-order a game and then filling other channels first can create a lot of ill will.


It occurred to me after my last post that maybe some people are misunderstanding what a pre-order means. A pre-order is agreement between you and your store. That is it. Nobody else is involved. It has nothing to do with GF9. When you pre-order, you do not pre-order from the publisher; you are pre-ordering from your store. The manufacturer, be it GF9 or anyone else, is not responsible for that pre-order. Your contract is not with them. If you want to fault GF9 for poor communication regarding the production issues they've had, fine. If you want to fault GF9 for having a bad distriubtion model, fine. That is a part of their business decisions and partnering decisions with whoever handles those things for them. Have at them for those issues all you like. But GF9 did not solicit a preorder from you nor did they take a preoder from you. They did not promise you the first copies. GF9 did not fill someone else order before they filled yours, because you never had an order with GF9 in the first place. Your order was with the store. I'm not saying its the store's fault you're still waiting for your game and I'm not saying it isn't GF9 isn't at at fault for the issues surrounding this, but preorder fulfillment is not something they control.
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John Gallant
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In Canada, one of our distributors got a small allocation of the product. We ordered 4 copies and only received 2. No other Canadian distributor has received their product yet.
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Kyle Collins
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davypi wrote:
andrews777 wrote:
Letting customers pre-order a game and then filling other channels first can create a lot of ill will.


It occurred to me after my last post that maybe some people are misunderstanding what a pre-order means. A pre-order is agreement between you and your store. That is it. Nobody else is involved. It has nothing to do with GF9. When you pre-order, you do not pre-order from the publisher; you are pre-ordering from your store.


Sure. You're absolutely right- however, pre-orders from retailers, particularly large OLGS like CSI or whatever, are a large part of the apparatus by which producers are able to sell games. The pre-orders give the producer (GF9) some idea of the market demand, which allows them to make better judgments as they print the manufacturing run. That relationship is important for both the retailer and the producer, because it allows them to maximize sales and profit (Rule of Acquisition # 74, probably).

My family and I are taking a 2 week vacation to visit family and friends in Ohio and Georgia (from Texas), so I've been checking with CSI periodically to see if they've heard anything (to make sure it doesn't arrive and get stolen while we're gone), and it seems like everyone is getting pretty frustrated over something that could be solved with a little transparency and a little communication. Either way, I can't wait for the game, and recognize that there is no contract between GF9 and I because of my CSI pre-order, but there are better ways to handle customer service and communication.

Basically a game company should always ask WWJSD (What Would Jamey Stegmaier Do?)?

My 2 cents. Ok, fine, more like 62 cents.
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Brad Andrews
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aggiekyle wrote:
davypi wrote:
andrews777 wrote:
Letting customers pre-order a game and then filling other channels first can create a lot of ill will.


It occurred to me after my last post that maybe some people are misunderstanding what a pre-order means. A pre-order is agreement between you and your store. That is it. Nobody else is involved. It has nothing to do with GF9. When you pre-order, you do not pre-order from the publisher; you are pre-ordering from your store.


Sure. You're absolutely right- however, pre-orders from retailers, particularly large OLGS like CSI or whatever, are a large part of the apparatus by which producers are able to sell games. The pre-orders give the producer (GF9) some idea of the market demand, which allows them to make better judgments as they print the manufacturing run. That relationship is important for both the retailer and the producer, because it allows them to maximize sales and profit (Rule of Acquisition # 74, probably).


I agree, but I would push it farther. A pre-order with an unknown store may be a pure contract with that store, but MM and CSI are quite well known and GF9 and any other publisher would do well to pay attention to that avenue.

The legality is irrelevant. I am not planning on suing anyone. I will gauge how to spend my money in the future and could very well avoid preordering GF9 products or even buying them at all.

That is their problem and is one they can't punt off. If they gave limited stock only to certain channels and ignored places that had preordered enough copies, such as MM and CSI, they can harm themselves.

I will be VERY annoyed if other locations get the extra goodies and I do not. I will live if so, but it will still not be a good thing in GF9's favor.
 
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