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Subject: Open letter to the Fragors: Why limit to 1000? rss

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Roger
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Dear Fragors,

Congratulations to you all for selling out of Poseidon's Kingdom so quickly. The little figures look fantastic and its great to see the enthusiasm they've generated.

I have Antics sitting on my shelf waiting for the moment to play it, and I was very interested in what you are doing with PK.
But I didn't follow it closely enough to realise I was going to have to buy it rules-unseen and unreviewed, with unknown shipping costs, or miss out. So, like many others, I'm too late to the party and haven't placed a pre-order.

That's ok. I'm sure PK will be great, but I have a lot of other games. I realise that game publishers have to walk a pretty fine line to be able to manage the risk of having hundreds of unsold copies, and there's actually no obligation for publishers to produce a game for everyone who wants one.

But I have a question for curiosity. Right now it seems as though you could easily sell another 1000 copies, probably many more. But you have limited yourself in advance to 1000. "Strictly limited" it says. This means you can't print more without annoying the original buyers, and so even though the economics otherwise would make sense to make another big group of people happy, you won't be able to.

I was wondering what is the advantage of saying "strictly limited to 1000"? Maybe it gets a bit more sales hype going - but it didn't seem you needed that (although maybe that helped drive the rush). If you had just said "Only 1000 in this print run - be quick", that might have had the same effect. But as it is you are boxed into a corner. If it turns out to be a fantastic game I'll be sad I can't buy it. That's ok, life works that way, but it seems to be unnecessary. I just want to understand how this happens.

Thanks, and congratulations again.
Roger

(edited for typos)
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Christopher
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hsquid wrote:
If it turns out to be a fantastic game I'll be sad I can't buy it. That's ok, life works that way,


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Tobias
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hsquid wrote:
you have limited yourself in advance to 1000. "Strictly limited" it says. This means you can't print more without annoying the original buyers

I don't follow this logic. Why would anyone be annoyed by that? I would love to see more people getting a chance to get what looks to be a fantastic game.

Otherwise, an interesting post. And I look forward to hearing the answers.
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Kathrin
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Celtic Joker wrote:
hsquid wrote:
you have limited yourself in advance to 1000. "Strictly limited" it says. This means you can't print more without annoying the original buyers

I don't follow this logic. Why would anyone be annoyed by that? I would love to see more people getting a chance to get what looks to be a fantastic game.

Otherwise, an interesting post. And I look forward to hearing the answers.


Not that it applies to myself (got it for the cuteness factor and for hoping there'd be a good game in it), but have you never heard of
- people who like the idea of owning a "rare" item, something that not everyone who wants it can actually get, or
- people who try to make money out of a rare item?

Both might be pissed off it turns out there'll be more copies than initially announced.
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Bryan Jensen
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Celtic Joker wrote:
hsquid wrote:
you have limited yourself in advance to 1000. "Strictly limited" it says. This means you can't print more without annoying the original buyers

I don't follow this logic. Why would anyone be annoyed by that? I would love to see more people getting a chance to get what looks to be a fantastic game.

Otherwise, an interesting post. And I look forward to hearing the answers.


The Lamont brothers have said it's their intent to sell the game to a publisher if possible. A quick sell-out and post-sell-out demand gives them material for making a sale. Meanwhile the pre-ordering crowd don't lose the value of their limited edition were that to have any extra-gaming value. EDIT: Or at least how I see it.
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Tobias
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marble911 wrote:
Celtic Joker wrote:
hsquid wrote:
you have limited yourself in advance to 1000. "Strictly limited" it says. This means you can't print more without annoying the original buyers

I don't follow this logic. Why would anyone be annoyed by that? I would love to see more people getting a chance to get what looks to be a fantastic game.

Not that it applies to myself (got it for the cuteness factor and for hoping there'd be a good game in it), but have you never heard of
- people who like the idea of owning a "rare" item, something that not everyone who wants it can actually get, or
- people who try to make money out of a rare item?

Both might be pissed off it turns out there'll be more copies than initially announced.

Hm, ok, hadn't thought about that. Here's hoping that the Lamont brothers (or any game author/publisher, for that matter) wouldn't mind pissing people like that off if it means that more people who are genuinely interested in the game get to enjoy it.

I can certainly see quixotequest's point, though. I if that's the case, I hope it works out well for them.
 
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Gunther Schmidl
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Also works the other way round: "only 900" lures the "must have rare game" crowd, whatever their motive; so do the cute components, and now they've sold 900 of what could be the worst game ever made without even a peek at the mechanics, never mind the rulebook. I don't assume it will be, mind you.
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W. Eric Martin
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quixotequest wrote:
Celtic Joker wrote:
hsquid wrote:
you have limited yourself in advance to 1000. "Strictly limited" it says. This means you can't print more without annoying the original buyers

I don't follow this logic. Why would anyone be annoyed by that? I would love to see more people getting a chance to get what looks to be a fantastic game.

Otherwise, an interesting post. And I look forward to hearing the answers.

The Lamont brothers have said it's their intent to sell the game to a publisher if possible. A quick sell-out and post-sell-out demand gives them material for making a sale. Meanwhile the pre-ordering crowd don't lose the value of their limited edition were that to have any extra-gaming value. EDIT: Or at least how I see it.

And that's roughly how it's worked in practice, with Sheer Panic picked up by Zoch/Mayfair, Snow Tails by Asmodee and Savannah Tails by Kosmos. No idea whether Antics will see another print run from someone, but I can understand why the Lamonts have adopted this business model.
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Gar Per
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marble911 wrote:
Celtic Joker wrote:
hsquid wrote:
you have limited yourself in advance to 1000. "Strictly limited" it says. This means you can't print more without annoying the original buyers

I don't follow this logic. Why would anyone be annoyed by that? I would love to see more people getting a chance to get what looks to be a fantastic game.

Otherwise, an interesting post. And I look forward to hearing the answers.


Not that it applies to myself (got it for the cuteness factor and for hoping there'd be a good game in it), but have you never heard of
- people who like the idea of owning a "rare" item, something that not everyone who wants it can actually get, or
- people who try to make money out of a rare item?

Both might be pissed off it turns out there'll be more copies than initially announced.


Frankly I would be pissed, but not for either of these reasons. I knew the game was going to sell out, I loved the components, so even with all of the uncertainty with rules, shipping, etc, I took a sizable risk and placed a Pre-order. I did this because I felt I had only this opportunity at the game. If Fragor then later issues a 2nd print, then they will have manipulated me using a hard sell that was a total lie (strictly 1000). As of right now, they have only manipulated me using the hard sell, but without deceit involved. I'm totally ok with companies limiting distribution to generate hype and force the customer's hand. I would not be ok if they did that and then went back on it.
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Ron D
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W Eric Martin wrote:
quixotequest wrote:
Celtic Joker wrote:
hsquid wrote:
you have limited yourself in advance to 1000. "Strictly limited" it says. This means you can't print more without annoying the original buyers

I don't follow this logic. :what: Why would anyone be annoyed by that? I would love to see more people getting a chance to get what looks to be a fantastic game.

Otherwise, an interesting post. And I look forward to hearing the answers.

The Lamont brothers have said it's their intent to sell the game to a publisher if possible. A quick sell-out and post-sell-out demand gives them material for making a sale. Meanwhile the pre-ordering crowd don't lose the value of their limited edition were that to have any extra-gaming value. EDIT: Or at least how I see it. :)

And that's roughly how it's worked in practice, with Sheer Panic picked up by Zoch/Mayfair, Snow Tails by Asmodee and Savannah Tails by Kosmos. No idea whether Antics will see another print run from someone, but I can understand why the Lamonts have adopted this business model.


That's exactly what I was thinking. I figure they don't make much of a profit on the 1000ish copies of the game they sell - they don't make enough to hit real economies of scale. They 1000 copies is just enough to generate buzz without saturating the market for when an edition from a regular publisher comes out.

All that said, I'm bummed I missed out on this. I'm quite happy with my Fragor copies of Snow Tails and Antics, but I'll just have to get Poseidon's Kingdom when it gets picked up by a major publisher. If it doesn't get picked up, I'm probably not missing much (besides some really cute bits).
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S. R.
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Honestly, I'm not that much a collector to be compelled to own rare games, or even ones with cute looking pieces. But this hard sell works in my favour as I can assume that, if I do not like the game (be it quite good or impossibly bad), I will find a collector out there that I can sell my copy to at hardly any loss. At least, if I'm reasonably quick (in case the game is a total bust)...
 
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Jay Lacson
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Ugh...I missed out on Antics and now this game.
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Fraser Lamont
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I don't have time to comment fully right now (I am under time pressure for box and rules files), but I wanted to clarify an important point.

For any one who doesn't know our business model, quixotequest hit it on the head. We try and make a big splash with 1000 FRAGOR copies, before trying to get it picked up from a bigger publisher. This is the model we have been running for the past eight years (shear panic, snow tails and savannah tails all reprinted by larger companies). Antler Island
is a notable exception that is worthy of a story on its own

So to be clear, the game may get licenced by another company in the future and everyone preordering should be aware of this. We want to be totally upfront and transparent about this.

If the above is different from anybodies understanding, we will be more than happy to take any cancellations of preorders with no ill feeling whatsoever. You will note that we never take any money upfront for preorders, but only when the game is ready to ship or at the show.

We will follow up with a more detailed discussion on our model when things get a little less crazy (probably 2013 )

cheers,
Fraser and Gordon
Fragor Games


(edited for spelling)
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Daniel Danzer
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[EDIT: Cross-wrote and posted with Frasers post. But only numbers changed]:

Somebody seems to mistake "Fragor Games" as a regular game publishing company like FFG, Kosmos or Days of Wonder.
It is not.

It is two brothers with a hobby: Self-publishing a single game in a year, going to Essen and have a great time.
If another publisher is picking their game up - great. But, you know, it is still only 5% of 50% of the retail price, shared between the two brothers ... (correct me somebody, if this is not true).
They don`t earn money with that, which they would not just invest into the next game (correct me, Gordon, if this is incorrect). They both have day jobs for a living.
All they want is not losing (too much) money with their games.
When they published "Antler Island" in 2007, they had a fixed number of antlers the suppliers forced them to order: 10 000. 4 antlers per game made a 1st print run of 2500. They didn`t sell too well [well, constant 1 500 copies, see Fraser-post below, but still...], and this was an experience. After that, the cute pieces were gone for three years.

Now, imagine their plan to do it again. What would you do?

You don`t know in advance, wether this will be a hit. Antics! was sold out in December (or November?) 2010 - and it had 1 500 copies, AFAIK [I stand corrected: 1 000, see below]. Okay, so this bastard game, which has more randomness in it, a double sided board, 55 dice and 13 resin pieces, which will make it 45 Euro game, what chances does it have to sell well?

And even if ... Snow tails sold well, but when Asmodee published it, they sold less than the two brothers did before. So, even if there IS a hype - is there really a target group big enough to sell another 1 000 waiting behind the crazy BGG people? What, if all 1 000 people who are interested in the game pre-ordered and that is it?

I would only produce 1 000 and see, what happens. And because all the printing process, the manufacturing of the pieces and so on is such a hassle, and because I would want to think about my next game for 2012 after Essen, I would tell the people: We will not make more than that. Just as an information. And to make it not to be misunderstood, I would maybe call this: "strictly limited".

And I would really say "WHAT??!!", when 900 people would pre-order it within 11 days without even knowing the rules.

In short: Don`t expect any hardboiled publishing company`s policy behind that.

Just two brothers from Scotland, which are kind of lucky this year.


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Jay Lacson
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If you do get cancellations, do we have an opportunity to take their place?

Can I call dibs now? whistle
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Fraser Lamont
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duchamp wrote:

When they published "Antler Island" in 2007, they had a fixed number of antlers the suppliers forced them to order: 10 000. 4 antlers per game made a 1st print run of 2500. They didn`t sell too well, and this was an experience. After that, the cute pieces were gone for three years.


We actually sold around 1500 Antler Islands at Essen that year, which was pretty much constant sales. We then went home with about 7 palletes of games surprise. We are not set up to sell to retail (and, at present, have no wish to be), and therein lies the problem for us.
We were forced into producing that many games for that year, and it just reinforced why we didn't want to be in that situation.

Part of the reason why we started to produce boardgames was so we could afford to go to Essen every year. The primary reason was always to make a well respected game that people enjoyed. This hasn't changed and is why we let other companies deal with the considerable bother of larger runs
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Fraser Lamont
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duchamp wrote:
Antics! was sold out in December (or November?) 2010 - and it had 1 500 copies, AFAIK.



1000 copies (and I can't find my own one at the moment )
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Daniel Danzer
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Thanks for the corrections. Until the first authorized biography of the Lamont Brothers will be published, this thread will be an invaluable treasure of certified and countersigned details about your publication history, so the posterity will not be left with unanswered questions.

There is only one: Which kind of "useless piece" will be included in this year`s game, if any?

Time will tell ... surprise
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Roger
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dicemanjnr wrote:
For any one who doesn't know our business model, quixotequest hit it on the head. We try and make a big splash with 1000 FRAGOR copies, before trying to get it picked up from a bigger publisher. This is the model we have been running for the past eight years (shear panic, snow tails and savannah tails all reprinted by larger companies).


Thanks Fraser and thanks to quixotequest for the hit-nail-on-head summary. All clear.

and I'll keep a close eye out for cute little figures around this place next August...
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Bryan Jensen
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hsquid wrote:
dicemanjnr wrote:
For any one who doesn't know our business model, quixotequest hit it on the head. We try and make a big splash with 1000 FRAGOR copies, before trying to get it picked up from a bigger publisher. This is the model we have been running for the past eight years (shear panic, snow tails and savannah tails all reprinted by larger companies).


Thanks Fraser and thanks to quixotequest for the hit-nail-on-head summary. All clear.


Duchamp did a better summary than I. My strength is in expecting the Lamont bros to be consistent (which it appears they are) to their strategy (and history) as "intellectual property" creators. Being in the publishing side of consumer products myself I gotta respect the desire to not take the inventory risks that publishers do in exchange for whatever licensing royalty they negotiate. Good luck, Bros! May all this hype earn you an extra 1%
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Gordon Lamont
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I do not live in the UK nor am I a lawyer


I do both

Gordon
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Bryan Jensen
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duchamp wrote:
Somebody seems to mistake "Fragor Games" as a regular game publishing company like FFG, Kosmos or Days of Wonder.
It is not.


Good write up!

And, to be fair, even FFG, Kosmos, DoW, et al, are not "regular publishers" in the sense that many purchasers of their product don't always extend the grace, patience and kudos they deserve for furthering a deserved human expression of creativity, social interaction, and intelligence (boardgaming as a product category and hobby) at considerable risk and with small, passionate teams. They are not "fat and faceless" corporations like Hasbro and Wal-Mart.

(Not to say there aren't legitimate reasons to gripe when things don't always go smoothly, but I hope the point is meaningful.)
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Roger
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duchamp wrote:
Somebody seems to mistake "Fragor Games" as a regular game publishing company like FFG, Kosmos or Days of Wonder. It is not.

Um, if that somebody seemed to be me then it wasn't. I know who Fragor Games is, I understand why small companies make small print runs, I've even seen that insane photo before. I wasn't griping about missing out. I just wondered why you would commit yourself in advance to not making reprints.
Now I know
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Fraser Lamont
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duchamp wrote:
Which kind of "useless piece" will be included in this year`s game, if any?


It's only going to be useless for a while...ninja
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Stefan Rastapopoulos
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Any particular reason why Antics! wasn't picked up by another publisher?
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