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Subject: Zman games vs. Rio Grande Games rss

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Ralph T
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I know this was mentioned before but does it not seem like this is the year everything is going Zman Games' way, while things are not going Rio Grande's way? Zman games is releasing At the Gates of Loyang, Hansa Teutonica, and Dungeon Lords this year. It somehow got Kosmos' Perry Rhoadan, Pegasus Spiele's Kings & Things, and the Michael Schacht title The Golden City.

Meanwhile, Rio Grande Games loses its license to distribute Queen Games and all their major releases this year are expansions for Dominion or Race for the Galaxy. Their big titles this year are Power Grid Factory Manager and Tobago, which are known entities--but neither is going to be the ultimate splash that Hansa Teutonica or Dungeon Lords has been. Is Rio Grande losing its edge? How could they get outmaneuvered and miss three of the hottest titles coming out of Essen? You'd think they'd have the resources to get some of those licenses--after missing Agricola and Le Havre--how could you let At the Gates of Loyang slip away?
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Shane Is Board
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Perhaps it's just a business decision to step back? Without talking to Jay or asking him directly no way to really know; expansions are pretty big business, and although Hansa Teutonica certainly made a splash, will it sell anywhere near as many copies as what Rio Grande is putting out?

I don't have the answer to any of these questions, all I know is Z-man has definitely gone from a small company that I had little interest in to one that I'm watching more and more. Either way, more games for me, woo!
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Ralph T
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Well Jay had better watch out--this isn't Uberplay he's dealing with, some guys who couldn't distinguish Alhambra and Ra from Manga Manga.

Zev must have learned from his early mistakes and appears to have developed a supernatural intuition about talented game design--it's almost scary. Someone ought to give him an industry award. If I had venture capital money, I'd be investing in him now.
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Jonathan Takagi
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Why does it have to be "versus"? In every interview I've seen with Jay Tummelson, he has welcomed competition in the game industry and does not seem to view it as adversarial. I would imagine that we simply don't know about a lot of the behind the scenes decisions that are made in choosing what to distribute and any speculation would be either misguided or pointless.

It's great that Z-Man is putting out a lot of these games. It's great that RGG continues to be a reliable source as well.
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David C
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One of the things to know is that what really matters: money making.

If Jay can make a bucketload of money by just producing two games, I don't question his business acumen, at all.

Likewise, it's not like we're going to run out of games to play without one of these two companies.
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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I think one of the biggest mistakes board game companies make these days is too many products. I mean, from what I understand (and I'm grossly over simplifying here) if a typical game company will put out 12 games in a year, one or two will be successful, two or three will be not-shitty and the rest will suck. Most of the profit from the first two groups will go to finance the suck and ultimately the company isn't very profitable at all.

I would not want to address the OP's specific comparison, as I regard both Zev and Jay as personal friends and I would never question their business acumen (publicly). But I think your characterization of RGG's performance this year is waaaAAAaaay off...
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Ralph T
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jtakagi wrote:
Why does it have to be "versus"? In every interview I've seen with Jay Tummelson, he has welcomed competition in the game industry and does not seem to view it as adversarial. I would imagine that we simply don't know about a lot of the behind the scenes decisions that are made in choosing what to distribute and any speculation would be either misguided or pointless.

It's great that Z-Man is putting out a lot of these games. It's great that RGG continues to be a reliable source as well.


What? You mean they're not going to fight to death in a cage match?
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Ralph T
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derk wrote:
I think one of the biggest mistakes board game companies make these days is too many products. I mean, from what I understand (and I'm grossly over simplifying here) if a typical game company will put out 12 games in a year, one or two will be successful, two or three will be not-shitty and the rest will suck. Most of the profit from the first two groups will go to finance the suck and ultimately the company isn't very profitable at all.

I would not want to address the OP's specific comparison, as I regard both Zev and Jay as personal friends and I would never question their business acumen (publicly). But I think your characterization of RGG's performance this year is waaaAAAaaay off...


Maybe there are too many releases for Zman right now... he's not really getting enough info out about some of his newest releases like the Golden City or War of the Roses.
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David desJardins
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ralpher wrote:
Their big titles this year are Power Grid Factory Manager and Tobago, which are known entities--but neither is going to be the ultimate splash that Hansa Teutonica or Dungeon Lords has been.


"Ultimate splash"? It seems to me that Power Grid: Factory Manager and Dungeon Lords have been about equally well received. I think all you're saying here is that perhaps Z-Man is more aligned with your own personal tastes.
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Craig Liken
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Yes good to see Z-Man getting some great games out there.

I think the other thing that probably needs to be remembered is that Rio Grande have an extensive "back"-catalogue of terrific games that they presumably need to keep going and I would imagine outsell many of the "new" games anyhow - Carcassonne, Puerto Rico, Stone Age, plus many more. I guess they can't do everything - a fair bit of effort must go into the Dominion franchise as well.
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David C
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ralpher wrote:

Maybe there are too many releases for Zman right now... he's not really getting enough info out about some of his newest releases like the Golden City or War of the Roses.


Word. I just wanted to bold that and quote it. Simply thumbing it and geek-golding it isn't enough.

(I'm not saying "too many releases", but I am saying those two games are underhyped from what I understand of them)
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I know nothing about either company's business model but what I do know is that their games are some of the highest quality productions in the industry.

May they both continue for many years ahead!
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Jeff Wolfe
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Assuming that everything you say is absolutely correct, so what? Just because Jay's having a bad year and Zev's having a good year, doesn't necessarily mean anything statistically significant. Next year, their positions might be reversed. I strongly suspect that Jay is making enough from expansions and evergreen titles that he can afford to have an off year here and there.
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Mark Halloran
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bippi wrote:
ralpher wrote:

Maybe there are too many releases for Zman right now... he's not really getting enough info out about some of his newest releases like the Golden City or War of the Roses.


Word. I just wanted to bold that and quote it. Simply thumbing it and geek-golding it isn't enough.

(I'm not saying "too many releases", but I am saying those two games are underhyped from what I understand of them)


Zman's web site does a much better job getting info out about it's new releases. Isn't Rio doing Egizia, which could be huge, but, not a mention about it at their web site.
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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I had a long chat with Jay at Essen a couple of years back. He was very clear, his competitors are Time Warner and Disney, not other game makers. It's TV and film/video that stop people playing games. If they play any kind of game, they'll come round to trying his products at some time.

Zev's clearly learnt from his problems with Pandemic. A massive hit and it was out of production for months while his suppliers screwed up. It looks like he's good his production process sorted and is moving ahead with new product.
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ralpher wrote:
Their big titles this year are Power Grid Factory Manager and Tobago, which are known entities--but neither is going to be the ultimate splash that Hansa Teutonica or Dungeon Lords has been.



Tobago. Users owning = 1732
Factory Manager. Users owning = 2138
RGG Total = 3870

Hansa Teutonica. Users owning = 771
Dungeon Lords. Users owning = 2733
Z-Man Total = 3504

Not much of a difference there, with RGG totalling more than Z-Man.

And Tobago probably is the most likely of those four titles to have owners that don't log their copies on here.




N.



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David C
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Griffin09 wrote:
bippi wrote:
ralpher wrote:

Maybe there are too many releases for Zman right now... he's not really getting enough info out about some of his newest releases like the Golden City or War of the Roses.


Word. I just wanted to bold that and quote it. Simply thumbing it and geek-golding it isn't enough.

(I'm not saying "too many releases", but I am saying those two games are underhyped from what I understand of them)


Zman's web site does a much better job getting info out about it's new releases. Isn't Rio doing Egizia, which could be huge, but, not a mention about it at their web site.


Yeah, but normally some review copies to out to all the Tom Vasels, and I haven't seen anything on a new Michael Schact game or what looks like a one of the most territory/economic games ever? It seems nuts.

I tried looking-up the rules to war of the roses, and while the book was adequate, I lost interest in trying to figure out what the game would be like pretty quick. It has a lot of bits, and weighs like 7 lbs.
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Daniel Corban
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Rabid wrote:
I know nothing about either company's business model but what I do know is that their games are some of the highest quality productions in the industry.


The interesting thing is that not a single one of the games mentioned in the original post were produced by either Zman or Rio Grande. They are just the original German productions with the Zman or RGG logo slapped on and english rulebooks.
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Jason Miller
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Rio Grande also passed on Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League, likely because RGG didn't think the game would do so well in the U.S. market. That's an example of Z-Man getting Jay's leftovers.
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Ralph T
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DaviddesJ wrote:
ralpher wrote:
Their big titles this year are Power Grid Factory Manager and Tobago, which are known entities--but neither is going to be the ultimate splash that Hansa Teutonica or Dungeon Lords has been.


"Ultimate splash"? It seems to me that Power Grid: Factory Manager and Dungeon Lords have been about equally well received. I think all you're saying here is that perhaps Z-Man is more aligned with your own personal tastes.


Compare the two and Dungeon Lords has definitely done better. On 519 want lists vs. 299 for PGFM, and half as many people trading, 600 more owners, and a top 40 game already.

Moviebuffs wrote:
ralpher wrote:
Their big titles this year are Power Grid Factory Manager and Tobago, which are known entities--but neither is going to be the ultimate splash that Hansa Teutonica or Dungeon Lords has been.



Tobago. Users owning = 1732
Factory Manager. Users owning = 2138
RGG Total = 3870

Hansa Teutonica. Users owning = 771
Dungeon Lords. Users owning = 2733
Z-Man Total = 3504

Not much of a difference there, with RGG totalling more than Z-Man.

And Tobago probably is the most likely of those four titles to have owners that don't log their copies on here.




N.


Actually that's unfair since Hansa Teutonica has not been released by Zman yet. Getting it in the US has been very difficult, as it's import only. But you could put Campaign Manager up there, and see it also only has 797 owners--apparently a good game but not attracting so many owners.

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David desJardins
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dcorban wrote:
The interesting thing is that not a single one of the games mentioned in the original post were produced by either Zman or Rio Grande.


This seems false. Dominion and Race for the Galaxy are both mentioned in the OP and they are both highly successful games produced directly by Rio Grande.
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David desJardins
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ralpher wrote:
Compare the two and Dungeon Lords has definitely done better. On 519 want lists vs. 299 for PGFM, and half as many people trading, 600 more owners, and a top 40 game already.


I think that just says that Dungeon Lords is doing somewhat better with the core gamers, the main BGG users. Which is not surprising as it's a heavier game. I'm not convinced it's doing any better than Power Grid Factory Manager in the general marketplace.
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Jay and Zev both should be thanked again and again. I thanked Zev personally at the last GenCon. I know they love board games and they are sharing that with all of us in the US and abroad.

Jay used to say nothing outsold Carcassone for him. I wonder if Dominion has now taken over as the #1 product for him? Zev really came alive with Agricola and Pandemic - two hugely popular games. Jay has years of success behind him. So we'll see what the future brings!
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adamw wrote:
Jay and Zev both should be thanked again and again.


Agreed.

I don't own many games by either - RG in particular aren't usually my cup of tea - but with only a couple exceptions, both companys' products are gorgeously done.

People who like games that're both sturdy and pretty owe companies like Z-Man and RG for raising the bar.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
ralpher wrote:
Compare the two and Dungeon Lords has definitely done better. On 519 want lists vs. 299 for PGFM, and half as many people trading, 600 more owners, and a top 40 game already.


I think that just says that Dungeon Lords is doing somewhat better with the core gamers, the main BGG users. Which is not surprising as it's a heavier game. I'm not convinced it's doing any better than Power Grid Factory Manager in the general marketplace.

Dungeon Lords vs. Power Grid Factory Manager
Just the names alone convince me.
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