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Subject: Some thoughts on the NY Toy Fair and our niche hobby rss

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Matt Lee
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These are just my personal thoughts and observations from going on Sunday and past years - generally aimed at the non-electronic gaming aisles. I'm curious if other have the same feelings or if there are things I'm missing.

The thing that sticks out the most in my mind is that most of the buyers really are non-gamers and are the ones who decide what games go on the shelves of the stores.

What happens then is that I've passed by or stopped at booths to most of the reps trying to describe their games in 30 seconds or less and use the similarities (however tenuous) to mass market games that we've all known for decades. This partly explains why we have the multiple versions of Monopoly or games that are basically Monopoly with one tiny twist (ie last year's Joel Harden's Mogul) or super-simple games with very little strategy depth.

While many of us drool at hearing that a game opens up more possibilities and strategies as the game goes on, the buyers really only are looking for games that are easy to digest, quick to understand and has some aspect that can appeal to the mass market. Demo stations I notice are set up but only one or two rounds of a game can be played and buyers tend to make their decision right there and then. No time to see if the game gets more interesting and clever once people grasp the concepts and subtleties.

Case in point: Many of us would consider Coloretto to be a quick, simple to teach game with surprising depth and generally a game that should be mainstream. I've overheard "The packaging is too small for my store to sell. Too easy to steal." "But it's just cards for a $12 retail price?" "There doesn't seem to be a lot to this game." (after only 3 cards had been drawn).

Broken down, the assumptions I make from the comments are that buyer 1 saw the packaging and is refusing to consider the game based on the store's needs against shoplifting. Buyer 2 thinks the price is too high, probably because of dealings with Hasbro and Mattel where a card game is a $5 impulse item, and doesn't seem to be concerned at all about how the game plays. Buyer 3 is obviously not a gamer and probably believes his customers would consider the plain cards (ie no rules or other marks besides the individual colors) to be too simple without actually hearing the rules or waiting to see the decision making in the game.

Given that, what chance do we really have to see some of the more complex card games make it out there? Fluxx and its brethren have 3 simple rules that can be explained in 30 seconds and a busy buyer can glance at a hand of 5 cards and read through them and they get the entire game. This is the big selling point and the huge sales put the pressure on for them to consider it for their stores. The familiar "hold a hand of cards, draw cards, play them face up to the middle of the table, pass the turn" mechanic is all that these buyers will look at. The tableau and multiple usage of the cards used in San Juan would confuse them and might tell them it's too complicated a game to sell, yet many of us would consider it a nice, easy to play and learn game.

The fact that a lot of games are obvious ripoffs of popular games does show up at the Toy Fair, and it's obvious most of these people are passionate about their games and that even their minor twist will separate them from everyone else. Case in point: 2 years ago, I saw Bananagrams start to make their breakout run. While many people here already played a folk version of Speed Scrabble, the cute packaging and wordplay with anagrams in the name made it a possible seller. After it did well, I saw at least 4 different clones, each one with some slight variation on the others, last year, and though I was rushing through this past Sunday, I can't say I saw any of them return unless they were part of another company that had other products for sale, and even then, they weren't as prominent as last year.

A lot of the booths are also distributors instead of actual game companies, which makes sense, but even then, the majority of those booths have the familiar games to catch the eyes of the buyers who may be looking for a good deal. A few of the companies do seem to try to promote games of all types, but the quick observation is that the attention span only gets attracted by the familiar, so a company with mostly Rio Grande and Days of Wonder games lining their shelves may not be as attractive as a distributor with Catan and Konami licensed products spilling out.

As a gamer, I've been told by a few of the demo people that it was refreshing to be able to actually speak to someone who understands games and is looking at their products from a different angle. They truly only see a small handful of people who know games and are not simply suits looking to increase profits year over year, yet with the billions at stake, I don't see that changing much soon, since the suits are mostly business majors and care very little about the quality of the game vs if it's cheap or quick and easy to grasp or the tried and true that just keep selling.

The breakout exceptions like Apples to Apples Scene It? Movie and Wits & Wagers as well as the increasingly mainstream Catan do help and give those suits more spots for our niche games to get a foothold out there, but I don't really see our hobby breaking out of the pretty small niche it is in now. considering the innovation and quality of recent games like Endeavor and Thunderstone vs. the yet-another-Monopoly clones out there, perhaps it isn't a bad thing.
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Thanks for the update and perspective.

I've been to ToyFair twice, and word among buyers is it is only worth going ever few years as there's not a lot of change year-to-year. Unless you've got a lot of products that have shop-friendly appeal, it's not worth setting up a booth at ToyFair; it's the wrong way to market your product.
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Paul DeStefano
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I've been to the Toy Fair as a buyer for a stoer that sold mostly chess.

And, yeah, to tell you the truth, for a game store that didn't sell BGG style games, I based most purchases on packaging, exactly like our buyers would.
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Neil Meyer
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klz_fc wrote:
The breakout exceptions like Apples to Apples Scene It? Movie and Wits & Wagers as well as the increasingly mainstream Catan do help and give those suits more spots for our niche games to get a foothold out there, but I don't really see our hobby breaking out of the pretty small niche it is in now. considering the innovation and quality of recent games like Endeavor and Thunderstone vs. the yet-another-Monopoly clones out there, perhaps it isn't a bad thing.


Hi Matt,

I feel for you! I launched a digital magazine at the end of last month aimed at Social Gamers because I couldn't find anything in the mainstream magazine section for boardgamers. Even though boardgaming is where my main interest is I decided to be broader in my target market - including role playing and MMOs - to try cross-pollinate the interests across different niche groups.

That said it seems to have done okay with target each group, as I've had great feedback. I don't have any information to measure if one type of gamer is now trying a different type of game, but at least I can raise the awareness to the different groups.

I believe that games are their own best kept secret. There continues to be an attitude that these types of gaming activities are only for kids or geeks. Like other geeky activities of old - such as computers or the internet - until the 'average person' sees people playing games in the park, in movies, during lunch breaks and as a part of everyday life we will probably still face this barrier.

Just my 10 cents worth.

Rgds,
Neil

www.thru-the-portal.com
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I was going to post this comment separately, but here is just as good.

I was pondering as usual why it is so hard to make the breakthrough to non-gamers. I now think (having been trying for 15 years) that the problem is learning rules. That's the barrier we cannot get over. I do not mean that getting somebody to learn the rules for a game they want to play is a problem. I mean that compared to other intellectual pleasures/entertainment (reading, watching TV/films, listening to music), you do not have to learn each one afresh every single time.

If you like reading a genre of fiction, I might suggest you try reading a good example of another genre. If you want to try it, you do not have to:
a) learn to read again.
b) learn how to read the new genre.
c) learn how to enjoy reading the new genre. (You might argue that understanding the subtleties of a new genre does take learning, but most people can tell after a few pages if they like a book or not. The same goes for music, TV, films.)
d) find three other people prepared to put in the same effort, time and commitment for you to enjoy the new book.

But if I suggest you play a new game, as simple as that game may be to learn, you have to:
a and b) learn how that particular game works
c) learn how to win at that particular game (if winning matters to your enjoyment)
d) find three other people prepared to put in the same effort, time and commitment for you to enjoy the new game, even if they don't.

That's a massive hurdle. And that's why it's easier to sell another Monopoly clone. The non-gamer doesn't have to learn how to roll dice and plonk round a track and pass paper money around again. As crap as Monopoly is, they already know how to play your clone, how to win, and can get a few friends to at least try it, crap as it might be.

We bother to break through the barriers a), b) and c) because we love playing games. But even here on BGG, you'll find people lamenting that they can't play their games because of d). But normal people just will not.

So it may be that we are following a path that nobody else will bother following.
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Matt Lee
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overtheboard wrote:
Thanks for the update and perspective.

I've been to ToyFair twice, and word among buyers is it is only worth going ever few years as there's not a lot of change year-to-year. Unless you've got a lot of products that have shop-friendly appeal, it's not worth setting up a booth at ToyFair; it's the wrong way to market your product.


I have to admit, I can see that's true about nearly every genre there. In just the three years I've seen it, I can point out a fair number of booths with very few changes between then and now. I don't know if I'd agree that it's only worth going to every few years, but the sheer size does make it difficult to pick out the unique items as they're buried under the familiar.

I do hope someone with dreams sees this and gets your last point. Too many one-time booths come up and spend tons of money hoping for that big sale that didn't come and the company must fold due to the huge waste of money that could have been better spent marketing in other ways or combining with other companies (or publishers/distributors).

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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
I was pondering as usual why it is so hard to make the breakthrough to non-gamers. I now think (having been trying for 15 years) that the problem is


... that your avatar is pointing a gun straight at them/ us?
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:

...
But if I suggest you play a new game, as simple as that game may be to learn, you have to:
a and b) learn how that particular game works
c) learn how to win at that particular game (if winning matters to your enjoyment)
d) find three other people prepared to put in the same effort, time and commitment for you to enjoy the new game, even if they don't.
...
We bother to break through the barriers a), b) and c) because we love playing games. But even here on BGG, you'll find people lamenting that they can't play their games because of d). But normal people just will not.

So it may be that we are following a path that nobody else will bother following.

Geeze, you make it sound like we're a bunch of masochists or something.

Oh, wait... whistle
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Matt Lee
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
*lots of good comments and thoughts*


I think you may be right about learning rules as being the biggest barrier. At the same time, I think there is some kind of choice being made due to peer pressures as we've seen with the current mainstream coverage of Catan where people will make the effort so they are not left out.

I wonder also if the whole anti-intellectualism America has been going through plays a part of this as well, as partly shown in Neil's post. Saying something is "geeky" or "nerdy" is a very strange reason to completely stigmatize something. Why would something that appeals to smart people be a bad thing? Yet, that is where we are at, but I digress before this hits RSP territory.

I can say that when people see a group laughing it up, it does get attention and interest that it wouldn't normally, and if that's all we can do to quietly spread the types of games we love, then I'll be happy to help all I can.
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I spent Sunday and Monday at Toy Fair and actually came away pretty excited. True, if you were hoping for evidence of deep strategy games taking over the mass market, you'd be sorely dissapointed. However, new board games and card games were common throughout the show, demonstrating that there remains significant interest in tabletop games.

I felt at home downstairs with so many companies that I know from the hobby sector. But did you go upstairs? There were many more companies upstairs showing board games targeted to the mass market but with some interesting twists. Yes, I saw games that were merely rethemed versions of tired old designs, and games that I figured out were broken immediately, but I also saw mass market games with interesting strategic elements clearly influenced by modern advances. I met some designers, developers, and publishers from large mass market companies, and it was clear that they are gamers interested in keeping that trend going.

As for the influence of packaging and similar factors, I understand. For me, board games are a hobby, but that's not the case for everyone. And I don't expect people for whom board games are not their hobby, but are just something that they sometimes do for fun, to spend a lot of time rearching designers, reading rules and reviews, or otherwise investing a lot of time before they get to the game that they only want to take 30 minutes anyway.
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klz_fc wrote:
EYE of NiGHT wrote:
*lots of good comments and thoughts*


I think you may be right about learning rules as being the biggest barrier. ...snip...


Just to be clear, since this is today's revelation for me, it's not simply 'learning rules'. It's having to start right over from scratch for every new game, compared to never having to start over for every new book/film/song/show. Imagine if every time you wanted to read a new book, you had to learn to read in a wholly different way than you knew before. Given the choice of a new book, or re-reading a book from 80 years ago that is crap, you hate, but at least you can pick up and start reading straight away, most people will go with what they know (and no blame on them either).

I'm hopeful that as more of our games move onto apps, people will find them easier to pick up, but still, why bother going through all that learning when you can stick to what you already know?
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klz_fc wrote:
but I don't really see our hobby breaking out of the pretty small niche it is in now


Is that entirely a bad thing?

There are strengths to our hobby's current nature:
We tend to have closer ties to the designers and publishers- this must make it easier to develop, market, and assess the success of games.
There is more room for experimentation-- games are expected to do well, but not banked on to do great.
The small businesses have a better chance in competing in the small pond.
I think it has benefited us as fans-- we are a tighter community, and customers with well thought out opinions/reviews stand out. (Compare to Amazon-- where almost all reviewers are strangers-- and it becomes harder to gauge their views when compared to my own.)

Don't get me wrong. I would love to see game designers and publishers make more money, and to see a wider range of games on the shelves.

I just have this horrible vision that if games were to explode in popularity tomorrow, then we would have a situation comparable to the video game market. Good money, but very little quality.
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All the more reason why it seems to me that Toy Fairs and the like are not a worthy investment time or money wise for a small manufacturing company like me.


Word of mouth and popular reviewing web sites BGG are what seem to drive the real niche market. Illusions of getting rich at this are of course the common pipe dream. But even selling enough to make a semi-retirement nest egg would suffice for me.

Quality still does matter to most hardcore gamers, and that is the real element that makes games popular IMHO.
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robul wrote:
But did you go upstairs? There were many more companies upstairs showing board games targeted to the mass market but with some interesting twists.


I did in fact, and I kind of have to to cover many other companies (ie Blue Orange, Ravensburger, Playroom, Out of the Box) that aren't just in the gaming category. I also see the influences, and I expect that to continue as more people find out about the niche games and take something away that they can add to what is out there now.

What I did want to make clear to people who don't see this side of the business, and I guess it might have gotten lost in my rambling thoughts, is that the thought of coming up with a fantastic game that will shake the industry up has some hurdles that would be invisible unless you see what the actual buyers react to and are looking for.

Also, games that probably should, in fact, be successful IMHO because they can cross into the mainstream with little work still have hurdles that we are blind to because we're the niche audience already.

I am carefully wording a lot of this as well since I have other factors that I can't share to the general public, but as I am still a gamer at heart, I still see things that we can do to actually help things a bit too. Certainly a lot of fillers and light games that get blown aside here could very well have been a success if the right people saw it, but at the same time, the common complaints about yet-another-opoly selling a million units here needs to see how that happens in the first place. I think Rob Daviau at Hasbro has actually done some very amazing things to increase the quality of gameplay in recent years, and he's fairly active here, so the influence is there.
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Interesting discussion.

Plowing through the cluttered marketplace might require "MTV COPS" as mentioned in this BGG thread:

Inspiration and the power of a concept which can be explained in a few seconds
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Just to be clear, Jason, I understood what you meant. I think you are right. A lot of people really don't want all new (unlike those of us who are afflicted with being part of the cult of the new). Familiar with a twist or two is about all they can handle.

NorthernRommel wrote:
All the more reason why it seems to me that Toy Fairs and the like are not a worthy investment time or money wise for a small manufacturing company like me.


While you are still a small company, I'd say you really are better off not going to the Toy Fairs as I see people who are hoping for that big payout that can help them with the production run, and I often see these companies fizzle out because they weren't getting what they needed.

Part of it, I think, is that people also don't realize that the big box companies not only want X amount of product, but also that if it doesn't sell, the client must buy back that unsold product or help pay part of the clearance fees. I see people saying they're waiting for the clearance sale at Toys R Us or Barnes and Noble and not knowing that if it hits clearance, the game publisher is taking a hit as well as the store.

On the other hand, and I should make clear that speaking to other people who do the Toy Fairs will be the best thing to do to find out for sure, I don't know if there is a better way to interact with small stores and chains than the Toy Fair, especially if you are already selling to any. The face to face meets I've seen from some small store chain in another state talking to a company rep and increasing an order because they actually get to meet the company reps is also not uncommon.

In some ways, I'd say if your audience is a small niche, deifinitely show at hobby conventions. For our niche, Gen Con, Origins, WBC, and probably even PAX/PAX East would bring you in touch with people who know your product and might give a boost you wouldn't otherwise get.
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klz_fc wrote:
The breakout exceptions like Apples to Apples Scene It? Movie and Wits & Wagers as well as the increasingly mainstream Catan do help and give those suits more spots for our niche games to get a foothold out there, but I don't really see our hobby breaking out of the pretty small niche it is in now. considering the innovation and quality of recent games like Endeavor and Thunderstone vs. the yet-another-Monopoly clones out there, perhaps it isn't a bad thing.

It's not a bad thing. It's a good thing. Look at the quality of games being produced today - I can walk into any FLGS and find dozens upon dozens of games that I would be interested in purchasing. Publishers continue to push the envelope in terms of innovative designs and quality components. There's enough room in the hobby for self-published games to make a splash, and the connection between producer and consumer is strong. We get this kind of quality in our hobby precisely because we are not mainstream. And you know what? I like it that way.

It's not going to change either - how many people think that $50 is a reasonable price to spend on a game these days, or that a great use of two hours is to spend it hunkered over a board? It's just not going to happen. But it doesn't matter - as long as there are enough of us to continue to make it financially feasible for great publishers like FFG or Days of Wonder or Rio Grande or GMT or Lock n Load or Plaid Hat Games or whoever to put out games that kick ass, then I don't care what the public at large thinks. I'm excited by what's being put out and I have a closet full of great games that I'll be playing for years to come. So let the suits have their Monopoly clones - I'll stick to the good stuff, thanks.
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klz_fc wrote:
I wonder also if the whole anti-intellectualism America has been going through plays a part of this as well, as partly shown in Neil's post. Saying something is "geeky" or "nerdy" is a very strange reason to completely stigmatize something. Why would something that appeals to smart people be a bad thing? Yet, that is where we are at, but I digress before this hits RSP territory.


The target market for said buyers is an American audience that possesses the attention-span of a small hyperactive dog, mainly (present company being the exception, of course).

Also, games that require "thought" seem too much like work to many people, and thus aren't very "entertaining."

I do not know what the solution to this is, because there is a whole lot of AWESOME being created today in nothing more than cardboard and ink, and while it sells, it will take a shift in focus to sell a LOT of it.

This is just my opinion... Great trip report and follow-up comments from all, incidentally.
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
Just to be clear, since this is today's revelation for me, it's not simply 'learning rules'. It's having to start right over from scratch for every new game, compared to never having to start over for every new book/film/song/show.

I don't think it is as bad as that. Games do have some similarities - rolling dice, laying out from a hand of cards, dexterity elements - that are familiar to most 'non-gamers'. Of course, we (in this hobby) go further. I was very happy when I described a game to my wife as a 'worker-placement' game and she knew exactly what I meant, and could compare it to others we have played.

I think that we are the avant-garde. A music teacher described John Cage to me: "He opened doors where there weren't any walls." Jazz was all dives and bordellos until Gershwin put it in Rhapsody In Blue (an exaggeration, but you get my point). We are starting to see elements and mechanisms from These Games Of Ours filter down into the mainstream games, with Settlers again leading the way. We are the ones doing the experimentation, and boiling it all down. I think that it will get there, bit by bit.

Even today, though, not everyone listens to, or likes, Jazz.
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noisycrow wrote:
I don't think it is as bad as that. Games do have some similarities - rolling dice, laying out from a hand of cards, dexterity elements - that are familiar to most 'non-gamers'. Of course, we (in this hobby) go further. I was very happy when I described a game to my wife as a 'worker-placement' game and she knew exactly what I meant, and could compare it to others we have played.

I think that we are the avant-garde. A music teacher described John Cage to me: "He opened doors where there weren't any walls." Jazz was all dives and bordellos until Gershwin put it in Rhapsody In Blue (an exaggeration, but you get my point). We are starting to see elements and mechanisms from These Games Of Ours filter down into the mainstream games, with Settlers again leading the way. We are the ones doing the experimentation, and boiling it all down. I think that it will get there, bit by bit.

Even today, though, not everyone listens to, or likes, Jazz.

Wow. Perfectly put. There aren't enough thumbs I can give for such a succinct statement of this hobby.

Thanks for stating that so clearly.
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noisycrow wrote:
I don't think it is as bad as that. Games do have some similarities - rolling dice, laying out from a hand of cards, dexterity elements - that are familiar to most 'non-gamers'. ...snip...


I would contend that those are minor aspects. I'm suggesting that a person who has read a detective novel doesn't need to learn how to read a sci-fi novel, because they already know how to read. But if a person knows how to play TTR, that will not help them in the slightest to play Carcassonne (beyond knowing how to use a scoring track and taking your turn clockwise, neither of which are crucial). Yes, a Carcassonne player will pick up Carcassonne: The Discovery easily, because it does contain most of the elements of Carcassonne, but it won't help them at all when it comes to playing Settlers. Each time I give you a new game to play, you have to start by reading the rules. You may, with experience, come to recognise familiar elements, but you cannot play that game until you have read those rules. This aspect simply does not apply to other entertainment. Yes, it may take educating to appreciate John Cage, but you don't have to learn how to listen again.

And you don't need 3 other people to listen with you, for you to benefit.
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you make some good points.

You briefly mention what for me is the main reason.
People stick with what they know. So if they look at the box and get it they might buy it.

they don't know what they are missing out on.

basicly I believe if you can find a group of people that are willing to play a game you can play most games with.

Now the people I play games with at home are completely new to gaming.
Never have I heard that the rules are too complex and long..
I might have thought it but during explaining noone seems to have a problem with it.



I might have some good friends...


The latest guy to join is Karl. These are the games we've played

Day 1 Industrial waste and Wits and wagers
Day 2 Hamburgum
Day 3 Carson city and Nacht der Magier
Day 4 and 5 Brass Karl's favourite game so far
Day 6 Pandemic
Day 7 Battlestar galactica
Day 8 container
Day 9 Ursuppe (Primordial soup)


Today is day 10 and we're going to play Indonesia

If that goes well Day 11 brings die macher.

Karl his remark the last time was that he was in a gameshop looking for the games we've played and didn't find them.

That really shows to me why our hobby is niche. You have to look for them in certain shops.

At the moment in my local group of friends I'm the only one buying boardgames. Gust, Alain and Karl have showed interest in buying games of their own. and Hidde was pleasantly surprised with his birthdaygift.
Infact much to my surprise we immediately played it three times with his girlfriend.
But they don't have a clue on how to get their hands on them and don't have a clue who to play the game with once they acquired it.
I think the problem here is that excluding people is the problem.
Not everybody likes playing boardgames and when couple X are going to couple Y and Z shows up only one doesn't have to be interested in playing a boardgame and it doesn't happen.
People much rather like to sit on a couch together instead of excluding someone.


At least we've 20.000 new users on this site. Some of them will be spending their hard earned cash on games. Some of them will find people to play their games with and some of them will have friends that start buying their own games.

We've got a bright future ahead of us.








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Matt Lee
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Discussions like this is why I love this hobby.

After being able to see the show yesterday for the last day, I had a couple of interesting discussions. I'll keep the companies anonymous since they were private discussions.

The first conversation was with someone who did in fact have a single product that resonated enough with some buyers that they were able to produce several more variants and is looking to checking out gaming conventions like Gen Con and Origins to expand their presence. The product is fairly different from other types out there, so it is not a clone, or licensed game that we would see flare up quickly and vanish. Unless this was an unusual year, I heard from a couple of vendors like this that they were able to move ahead, so for them, the gamble was well worth it.

At another booth, I had a very interesting discussion with a new game designed by someone who has a very well selling product. In discussing the abstract game's prototype packaging with the publisher, I was struck by how the designer assumed that the game name would be easily known by everyone and that having something that would resemble the theme would be unnecessary. The assumption was also that everyone (I assume in the parts of Europe where he presents his games) loves strategy games and that this will do very well. The contrast in cultures was interesting and might explain some of the disconnect we see reflected in the industry.

One other booth I believe I can discuss openly is Bisikle, where I noted the similarities to Pitchcar and how I was interested in seeing the Z-Ball in action on an incline. The domestic arm of the company expressed much surprise over how well known Pitchcar is here, which seems to have helped interest in the game more than they expected prior to the show. It seems enough people imported copies and showed it off to be mainstream enough for most buyers to be aware of.

Finally, one very popular mainstream product was explained to me that it took more than 5 years of obscurity before it hit the mainstream big time. Dom Crapuchettes noted something similar about how long it took for Wits & Wagers to hit big. A nameless game company rep noted also that gamers will pooh pooh games that any publisher would kill for and how the buyers have to go with what the public wants (ie the yet-another-opolys, Munchkins, Killer Bunnies, etc). It reminded me that as gamers, we still have to balance out our personal feelings about some things, and take a second look from the general public's point of view, if we can.
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Anto Mano
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klz_fc wrote:

I don't really see our hobby breaking out of the pretty small niche it is in now.

This is not necessarily a bad thing for actual game enthusiasts. Look at videogames. Just 10 years ago they were still a pretty niche hobby. And a lot of people wanted it to be mainstream. So mainstream it did become. Now the market of the mainstream dictates its own logic: fewer publishers remain in the business and become bigger; to remain profitable they need to invest in big-sellers - bland uninspired copies of what everyone had been selling for years; the big-sellers demand a lot of money, leaving little to invest in anything else; big-sellers raise the standard of market expectations in terms of presentation, further raising development budgets. In this reality, making innovative interesting projects becomes more and more difficult, and more and more often they fail, further decreasing the initiative to even try making them. The result - not just more "Monopolies", but more "Monopolies" at the expense of games that at least try to be good.

I don't want that for board games. But I look at Runewars, and I'm not sure if my wanting can change anything. And "worker placement" games I can't even look at.
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Eric Jome
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
I'm suggesting that a person who has read a detective novel doesn't need to learn how to read a sci-fi novel, because they already know how to read. But if a person knows how to play TTR, that will not help them in the slightest to play Carcassonne (beyond knowing how to use a scoring track and taking your turn clockwise, neither of which are crucial).


There is a skill to learning (and teaching) games. You acquire that skill from practicing... learning many new games. When you have learned many new games, learning another new game is easier. You begin to see the similarities. You know that games with action points are generally won when you can get more actions than other players. Or buy low/sell high. Or how to push your luck in an auction.

These skills are common in gamers because they have practiced them. They are not common in non-gamers. So, for the non-gamer, learning a new game is much more of a chore than it is for a gamer.
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