So I am in Las Vegas this week for the GAMA trade show. I'm interested to see how many manufacturers are here this year, and to see if more or fewer retailers are attending. About 3 years ago the show took up 2 big show room floors. Then it went to 1.5, and last year it was just one floor. So fewer manufacturers are probably in the market or at least willing to spend on attending.
Clearly the sinking economy is one issue, but that's tough when numbers came out saying hobby game sales were actually up as reported in an article on ICV2:
Game sales in hobby stores were up from 5 to 10% in 2009 despite hte worst economy in generations, according to a report in the new issue of Internal Correspondence (#70). The growth was driven by a huge resurgence in Magic: The Gathering Sales and by board game sales up by double digit percentages. Yu-Gi-Oh! and the return of HeroClix also helped support improved sales. Non-collectible miniature sales were down a little, and RPG sales were down around 10% in 2009.
That's not a huge surprise as people tend to look for more value in a difficult economy. Thus a $30 board game can be played multiple times with the family versus a video game at twice the cost and in general is a one or 2 player experience. Speaking of that RPG's then should be the ultimate value as they should be relatively inexpensive ($20) and other than adding dice all you need is paper, pencil and imagination. Yet RPG sales are one of the few declining categories. I have my own theories on this but suffice to say the hardback college biology sized rules texts don't exactly say "fun" nor "easy to learn" I often wonder if RPG's would have exploded had they been delivered in their current format 200+ page hardback tomes for $20+
Anyway, looking at a map of the trade show floor, it looks pretty sparse this year with companies like Konami, Bandai, Wizards and Upper Deck taking huge positions on the show room floor (about a 4 booth space each) Fantasy Flight also has a large presence and I always look forward to seeing what they will do next!
I wonder if an OSR booth isn't a missed opportunity. I mean you would have to be a crass capitalist trying to sell a few hundred retailers, but once you get over that issue, it seems like a few of these efforts could come together and split a booth or two and really try to get their product out there at retail. Retailers are here, distributors are here...and the games are?? Maybe when I finish my Collapse game and my Roguish RPG I'll buy a booth, have my lovely wife run it and then offer to sell space to other OSR guys who want their product shown/ sold?
More from the show floor later...