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Subject: Why I buy games at conventions rss

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Trent Hamm
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Instead of buying games throughout the year, I often wait until convention-time to execute many of my gaming purchases.

Why? Aren't I missing out on sales and bargains?

The reason is simple. Quite often, at large gaming conventions, you're buying the game directly from the company themselves. If I buy a copy of, say, Rune Age at GenCon, the cost of that purchase is going straight to Fantasy Flight.

If I buy it at other times, the cost of that purchase is split up among several different entities. The publisher gets a cut, sure, but so does the distributor and so does the retailer. Although I do buy items here and there to support my FLGS, I also want to strongly support the companies that make the games.

Conventions are one of my few opportunities to, as directly as possible, support the manufacturers of my favorite games directly with my gaming dollars. This can be a boon to a larger company (like Fantasy Flight) and it can be huge to a smaller publisher like Tasty Minstrel Games.

I'm sharing this because I'm wondering if I'm missing something in this philosophy.
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Gabe Covert
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Nope. Completely valid philosophy.

Though, I should point out, a not-insignificant portion of the purchase also goes to the convention host, either as a direct percentage (which I've heard exists on sales, but haven't confirmed), or as booth fees... Granted, this is still smaller than what the distributor and game store take.

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Jeff Wood
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I like it.

I am honest with my FLGS and let them know that yes, I appreciate their business and YES they can expect a lot of my holiday shopping and incidental shopping throughout the year; but, I am going to spread my money around.

Really, I like the conventions for the variety, the easy access to games that would take a while to order, the ability to sample a game, and to encourage the small sellers to sell me on the game so I will buy it right then and there. I feel this behavior in me and others encourages our smaller publishers to setup in the dealer's room year after year, providing me with more options than just the big names.

I just have to be willing to buy from them if I like what I see.
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Brook Gentlestream
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It's a perfectly valid philosophy, though not one I commit to.

I respect that game designers should be paid for their efforts, but see no reason not to pay distributors and retailers that make things more convenient for me.

There's nothing unethical about paying distributors. It's not like distributors are stealing the money -- designers use and pay those distributors because the increased volume of sales makes it more profitable than simply selling directly. To that end, I should be supporting the endeavor. The last thing I want is distributors going out of business or having financial problems. It's bad for me and bad for the game designer.

I'm not saying you shouldn't buy from conventions. I just like Jeff Wood's reasons better.
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Curt Carpenter
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If you really don't derive any personal benefit to buying the games at cons (e.g. earlier access to some games, promos, instant gratification and people available yto play with, etc.), then my reaction to the philosophy would be the same as if someone just made a cash donation to their designer or publisher of choice.

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I prefer to support my not-so-local OLGS. Really, they work as hard as anyone else in the gaming industry *and* they provide us low prices. And, of course, low prices means more money to spend on more games! Everyone wins. Except my closet space.

CCG'ers can support the FLGS.
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fishhaid
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I'm different in that respect. I don't mind paying retail at my FLGS, but I have a real difficult time paying retail at a Con with the manufacturer.

After I've paid $45+ to get in, not to mention the cost of travel and taking a day off of work, if they would offer a discount (doesn't have to be the 35% that online companies provide)they would get some of my business. and even at 35% discount, they would still make a good profit. But I've rethought the Con's and have decided that my FLGS does a better job of teaching me the games, supplying me with extras (like card sleeves, etc.) and providing a better gaming experience, I'd rather support them directly.

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Chris Cieslik
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cfisher wrote:
I'm different in that respect. I don't mind paying retail at my FLGS, but I have a real difficult time paying retail at a Con with the manufacturer.

After I've paid $45+ to get in, not to mention the cost of travel and taking a day off of work, if they would offer a discount (doesn't have to be the 35% that online companies provide)they would get some of my business. and even at 35% discount, they would still make a good profit. But I've rethought the Con's and have decided that my FLGS does a better job of teaching me the games, supplying me with extras (like card sleeves, etc.) and providing a better gaming experience, I'd rather support them directly.



Keep in mind that it costs a tidy sum to travel to and buy space (and in many cities, pay off the unions) at conventions for us companies, too. Adding those costs on top of production costs means that the margin isn't nearly as high as you think, especially for small publishers!

Nonetheless, buying from your local game store is always a great option, because you're supporting having that space around to play, see, and learn games at.
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Abdiel Xordium
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So how much money do game companies make at convetions? It's clear they have to pay to go to cons just like us normal folks. But do they make more money by selling at cons then by selling through normal channels?

For me, I buy games at conventions for the same reason I would buy a T-shirt at Disney Land, because I want a souvenir.

But game companies really want me to buy games at on-line stores because they have helped create an environment where that's the least expensive way to get games. The few companies that want me to buy games elsewhere get pilloried by geeks such that I don't think any up and coming game company wants to ruffle those feathers.

I used to buy games from my FLGS because they also provide space to play games, but after they told me they couldn't get any of the readily available games I wanted from their distributor I content myself with buying a soda and a candy bar when I go to game night.
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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trenttsd wrote:
Instead of buying games throughout the year, I often wait until convention-time to execute many of my gaming purchases.

Why? Aren't I missing out on sales and bargains?

The reason is simple. Quite often, at large gaming conventions, you're buying the game directly from the company themselves. If I buy a copy of, say, Rune Age at GenCon, the cost of that purchase is going straight to Fantasy Flight.

If I buy it at other times, the cost of that purchase is split up among several different entities. The publisher gets a cut, sure, but so does the distributor and so does the retailer. Although I do buy items here and there to support my FLGS, I also want to strongly support the companies that make the games.

Conventions are one of my few opportunities to, as directly as possible, support the manufacturers of my favorite games directly with my gaming dollars. This can be a boon to a larger company (like Fantasy Flight) and it can be huge to a smaller publisher like Tasty Minstrel Games.

I'm sharing this because I'm wondering if I'm missing something in this philosophy.


You could also do the same thing by buying directly from the publisher's website, no?
Of course, you'd have to paying shipping, but, in return you'd get it in a matter of days rather than waiting for the cons.
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Jason Walsh
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On a more selfish level, its fun to wait those months till the convention then just splurge like crazy.

It's also fun to bring home that huge stack of boxes, have a cup of coffee and open them all up that evening.
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Chris Cieslik
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abdiel wrote:
So how much money do game companies make at convetions? It's clear they have to pay to go to cons just like us normal folks. But do they make more money by selling at cons then by selling through normal channels?


It varies a lot from shop to shop. Anecdotal evidence that I know from other companies says that they come out ahead at cons. It's not the driving force of their business, but most make money.

As far as mine goes, we make about halfway between what we'd get wholesale and what we get from direct website sales. So at last year's GenCon for example, our overall costs for travel, booth, and etc were about 30% of our gross sales. So on a copy of Innovation, for example, we grossed about $17, as opposed to $23.50 off our website(Paypal fees + shipping), or between $9.50 and $12.00 from a store sale, depending on whether the store purchased directly from a distributor or directly from us. Those are gross numbers, so they don't take into account royalties for art, design, or printing costs.

As mentioned elsewhere though, there is an intrinsic advertising benefit from being at a con in terms of building buzz. Origins '10 was instrumental in launching Innovation into the spotlight, and I'm sure I can attribute many sales retroactively to being there. Fantasy Flight could surely do similar due to their playable prototype of the Civilization board game at GenCon 2010 (I know I bought a copy based on my demo!)
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Derek Anderson
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I don't purchase from conventions because I don't go to conventions... My local FLGS is about 85 miles away, so I only make the trip in there once every 2-3 months or so, and when I do I usually spend between $100 and $300 to support the store, all of my other purchases are over the internet simply because that is the only play to get games!
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Travis Worthington
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abdiel wrote:

But game companies really want me to buy games at on-line stores because they have helped create an environment where that's the least expensive way to get games.

This is crazy talk. Game companies don't make internet purchases cheaper - the internet makes internet purchases cheaper. Look at all the flak that Mayfair got when they tried to keep internet prices for Settlers at MSRP.

As a publisher I'd love it if you supported where you test and play games. If you go to a store or con to play games, you should buy games there as well. The cons and stores are supported by those sales - no sales, no cons and no stores.

Look at Origins - its in a sad slow decline, many reasons but as more and more vendors back out of the con, the con will get smaller and smaller still.

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We buy games at conventions.........because its more fun to have spending money. Yes, we are not being completely economical, but its lots of fun wandering a huge exhibit hall, playing demos and scoping out new games, trying to decide what to splurge on. For us, buying games at cons is probably around 20% of our total game budget, but it's certainly a lot more fun than a random CSI order.

At the Gen Con auction and auction store, I usually come out ahead, beating the Ebay prices for OOP games. So I gain some of the money I lost paying retail in the exhibit hall. Although, at GC and Origins, there are usually vendors like CSI and Miniature Market, so you can still find prices lower than retail.
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