22 June 2015

FLGS still the place to be

Onyx Path, the licensees for the old and new World of Darkness games, is making some interesting new product, even some for the old World of Darkness. If you want them though, do not look to your friendly local game store (FLGS); they have taken the road less traveled, becoming a PDF/POD only publisher (they do have a retailer option for buying books to get them in store, though there are few details about how this operates to an outsider, and I cannot see many stores getting on board without going through a distributor). There are rumors that the revived Chaosium may take a similar strategy, that is just a rumor for now, but is indicative of how electronic publishing is making inroads into the RPG industry.

You tell 'em!
The question: Is it sustainable?

Not having a presence in FLGS is, IMHO, a death sentence for an RPG company, albeit a slow one. While sales might be good for now (Onyx Path seems to be doing well), they must be selling to the large base of current players. Over time they will lose some of the current flock, but where will the new consumers come from?

The FLGS has always been a cornerstone to the gaming hobby by bringing new players into games. Not only for RPGs, but board games, war games and miniatures. It is a place to see the latest games, talk to other players, and even join a gaming group or tournament.

Word of mouth has always been the best marketing device. Forbes Magazine noted that "according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising."(1) Thus is what a game store is all about, face to face community. Sure, you can market to "friends" on Facebook and other social media, but having a person you know recommend something to you in person is way more effective.

My FLGS in Tempe, AZ
The owners/workers at these stores are also good for word of mouth, but I do not expect them to recommend something they do not stock. In fact, I personally would rather get something from them I will enjoy over something I have to order, even if the price is a little higher. It is about supporting a friend who supports their friends.

Now, I always hear the argument, "but it is working for books. E-books are selling well." Sure, but books are not something you do together, as gaming is. If you want to play, you go to where the action is: the FLGS.

Already, some FLGS owners have expressed a little animosity to Kickstarter for taking away a large amount of possible sales for the product when it eventually (if ever) hits their store. It will be interesting to see what the future brings in the online vs. FLGS model.

1. "Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media" by Kimberly A. Whitler, Forbes Magazine CMO Network 17 July 2014.

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