Thursday, March 25, 2010

GAMA Radiation

I walked the show floor in between meetings with distributors yesterday, and it took about 20 minutes.  So I walked it a few times and here's the trends:

1) Board games are back: Most booths were offering various board games.  This is the strongest growing market segment for hobby stores currently, and the manufacturers are putting out a lot of stuff this year!  Most dominant game form at the show.

2) Card games: Living Card games (Fantasy Flight) or self contained deck building card games (Dominion, Race for the Galaxy) are the new card trend. AEG's Thunderstone was a surprise hit and more are on the way.

3) A Winnowing of CCG's-there are 3 AAA players in the industry really and then there are a few fighting for some placement and recognition, but nothing stood out and most retailers limit the CCG's they carry now.

4) Minis-yup still there, nothing innovative or new

5) RPG's-well there was D&D...uhm...and FFG's Warhammer/ 40k stuff...and then Green Ronin stuff...nope that was it really.

There were even fewer manufacturers showing, and what appeared to be even fewer retailers attending.

So in my meetings I asked distributors about the RPG market. To a man (and woman) they said it was a non factor in their business, simply an offering for completeness, but a limited offering at this point.  $th edition D&D is steady but slow, then the FFG 40k RPG is okay, their new warhammer RPG game was not very strong, Green Ronin, Pathfinder, C&C, are all low and slow.  So I asked why?

1) Most often the distributors said the release of rules in PDF or worse, free, means they (distributors) not only don't need to carry RPG's-but SHOULD NOT carry them any longer.

2) MMORPG's and console games are more accessible and easier to get into with less hassle. One guy and a computer in his home versus gathering 4 or more people and hosting them at your house for 4-5 hours.

3) Board/ card games are a quicker game fix and easier to get people to try.

Answer #1 for RPG's is probably the reason why the RPG will continue to decline.  When items become "on demand" then it changes the way we as consumers expect to consume them.  So RPG's at retail are on a slow steady decline.

So are videos (hello Netflix, goodbye Blockbuster) and Video games are the next to go.  Anyone remember Suncoast video stores? Memo to Gamestop, the bell tolls for thee!

Already most Gamestops carry (if any) a tiny amount of PC games, because you can just download them.  Probably with the next generation of home consoles, the same could happen for their games.  Then there are no reasons to buy new games at retail...and no more used games to trade in...so goodbye Gamestop.

How about iPod and the Music Retail store industry...they collapsed ages ago.

The Kindle is the canary in the coal mine for books and comics.  Once a full color version comes out at $299 with a 10 hour battery life...goodbye book stores and comic stores as I can download what I want, anywhere I am, any time I want!  Color is the key-especially for comics, children's books, and art books.

There is a fundemental shift occuring as technology makes access, portability, and our expectations as consumers change.  It does not mean the complete disapearance of Books, CD's, Video game discs, or RPG books, it just means they could well become antique, specialized curiosities like Record Players.  In fact the OSR movement may well be the first wave of this antiquism. My wife and I collected all of Billie Holiday's LP's which we still love to listen to in the summer with a tall cool drink while I BBQ...is that any differnet then my collecting early D&D stuff then playing on a Saturday night with a group of late 30 and 40 somethings?
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