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Is kickstarter killing the FLGS?

Shingen

Pleased as Pie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
with online sales compromising a whopping ... wait for it ... 5% of American commerce. There's that 5% number again. The Internet has been around for a long time and its percentage of commerce hasn't grown significantly over the years. When game stores fail, by and large it's because game sore owners fail. So what I'm saying is if you're buying all your stuff online, you're kind of an outlier in the scheme of things, kind of like the people who write forum posts.
Of course, projections are that 60% of commerce will be internet-related in 3 years, so maybe it isn't such an outlier.

Additionally, while ALL sales may not be internet related, in some fields it may be much higher. Quoting the general, broad sales trends doesn't mean one corner will not be more internet oriented.
 
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Heavy Arms

Registered User
Validated User
I think Kickstarter does two big things, it a) brings new, creative, completely unmarketable projects to those who want them, and b) displaces previous mediums for obtaining marginal projects. For example, Indie Press Revolution, various PDF online sources, and consolidators.
I don't think that's entirely fair. Lots of things on Kickstarter are never going to be commercial successes in the larger marketplace, but there are examples of KS managing to springboard projects that have a market but are difficult to push through traditional channels. I mean, I can go and buy an Ouya at Target now (or at least extra controllers since I got one through KS). If a major chain picked it up, it can't be a completely unmarketable project.

Especially on the RPG side of things, Kickstater seems to have a much more synergistic relationship with things like online PDF retailers. Kickstarter and OneBookShelf seem to be mutually profiting off of projects just fine. If anything online niche retailers get a boost from Kickstarter because it increases their potential stock of things to sell.

Where I run into problems is when people throughout the tiers and customers think my retail store should be more involved when there's no market.
I have trouble believing that there's no market. It's a small market, and it is never going to be a largely profitable market, but as long as there's some profit to be had, I have trouble thinking that courting the RPG market is a loser. I can think of very few RPG primary gamers that I know that don't play other things that gaming stores tend to sell or buy products that overlap between the different game types (like dice).

Also, those who think game stores are dying haven't been paying attention. Really, look around. You're not seeing it. Game stores are proliferating right now at an alarming rate.
Sorry... but you're running a store in the Bay area. That's not exactly super representative of the whole country. I have seen four CCG focused gaming stores come and go here the past 10 years. They don't last. The only reliable gaming store in the city is a comic store run by a gamer that is perfectly happy to stock the array of gaming products and put in orders for things that regular customers ask for even if he wasn't carrying it already. You don't need to got to a gaming store to buy MtG cards anymore. And the sales around here clearly aren't good enough to lease the kind of space you need to have regular tournaments/etc. to build up a bigger customer base rather than people picking up cards at major retailers and playing at home with their friends.

Where there is a critical mass of customers, gaming stores are doing great. Other places not so much.

I love RPGs, but they're going the way of chit and counter war games, from what I can tell.
Not really. RPGs are just parting ways with Brick & Mortar stores because it isn't a good combination for either side. Online/digital distribution is a far better model for RPG publishers (barring a few exceptions) and RPGs are, as you note, not what makes gaming stores tick.

The actual RPG market is doing great; or at least as well as it should be doing for the market that it is.

Finally, Amazon is the 8th largest retailer in the US last time I checked, owning 25% of online sales, with online sales compromising a whopping ... wait for it ... 5% of American commerce.
Eh, I've always found this bit of statistics a bit misleading. 5% seems low enough that you're including areas of commerce with virtually no online presence (say, cars and food) rather than the areas where there's far more competition (travel expenses, video game sales). Walmart absolutely creams Amazon in total numbers... but Amazon isn't competing with Walmart on all sorts of product categories so that's a pretty big duh.

And online sales in plenty of specific markets continue to increase their total percentage of retail; which means there are specific things that are growing more and more common to buy online.

The Internet has been around for a long time and its percentage of commerce hasn't grown significantly over the years.
The majority of the time the Internet has been around, e-commerce wasn't a meaningful thing; Amazon might have been founding in the mid-90s, but it took a decade before it actually became profitable. So that's not really all that meaningful. And e-commerce growth relative to the total market isn't something with a clear "significance" figure to point to. How significant is a 1% growth in total retail (since it's up to 6% now)?

When game stores fail, by and large it's because game sore owners fail.
Of course. But realistically speaking that's true of pretty much most small businesses, unless the niche they're occupying completely dries up with no way to transition into a related niche.

So what I'm saying is if you're buying all your stuff online, you're kind of an outlier in the scheme of things
You're an even bigger outlier if you're buying none of your stuff online. I'm not sure what we're supposed to take away from this as the bottom line though.
 

DrNate

Who threw my pants in the
Although there are some Kickstarter outliers, like Reaper and Steve Jackson Games, the coming KS apocalypse for retail has yet to show itself.
I'm not sure what a kickstarter outlier is in that context, but I definitely agree that Kickstarter has to be a lot more reliable before it really be a viable alternative to the game shop.

Tan=gentally related, many thanks to CardinalXimenes for the thorough example.
 

Odd_Canuck

Registered User
Validated User
I've never seen a FLGS half as nice as that..
For a few months when I first moved to the US I lived across the street from that place, they had the advantage of finding a location in an area where it wasn't feasible to break the old storefront down into smaller units, but there was no room/demand for a large traditional store in the area. It's good to see they're expanding a bit. I do encourage anyone in the bay area to visit it, for sheer convenience factor if nothing else... they're just off the 12th street BART station
 

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
You know, the first time I heard that something was going to "End Game Stores", was when they stopped putting games in boxes.

"There was no way a game store can sell this without a box and all this stuff (shows all the little stuff that used to come in boxes" . Selling games as books will kill the game stores.

I have heard the same thing about increased prices, color products, videogames, ccgs, the internet, Amazon, pdfs, and tablets/ ereaders.

Sure it is a lot harder to be a small retailer, but the same could be said for any type of small bookstore, craft stores /quilt /needlework /fabric, RC shops, and any specialty shop. You really need the friendly part of the equation.

There will always be a place for touching the product, seeing new things, and for having that little community around the shop .

Howver, if you can't have that...
 

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
Of course, projections are that 60% of commerce will be internet-related in 3 years, so maybe it isn't such an outlier.

Additionally, while ALL sales may not be internet related, in some fields it may be much higher. Quoting the general, broad sales trends doesn't mean one corner will not be more internet oriented.
You're comparing the wrong statistics. 60% of commerce will be related, but only 10.3% will be exclusively online. We're not going to see a thirty-fold increase in internet "market share" so to speak. It's going to be more like a doubling. Not entirely surprising, with the existence of things like Steam (millions of dollars of product, entirely internet-transmitted), the growth of Amazon, and the movement to streaming video services.
 

Gareman

New member
I don't think that's entirely fair. Lots of things on Kickstarter are never going to be commercial successes in the larger marketplace, but there are examples of KS managing to springboard projects that have a market but are difficult to push through traditional channels. I mean, I can go and buy an Ouya at Target now (or at least extra controllers since I got one through KS). If a major chain picked it up, it can't be a completely unmarketable project.

Especially on the RPG side of things, Kickstater seems to have a much more synergistic relationship with things like online PDF retailers. Kickstarter and OneBookShelf seem to be mutually profiting off of projects just fine. If anything online niche retailers get a boost from Kickstarter because it increases their potential stock of things to sell.
Kickstarter doesn't have zero role in game stores, although probably 90% of stores ignore the stuff, since it's mostly fringe. What KS does is saturate the alpha market on release, so when I evaluate a Kickstarter derived product in my store, I have metrics I'm looking for. For example, I won't' touch a product with less than $50,000 in funding. If you don't hit that threshold, there likely isn't enough secondary interest in that product. This came from a very difficult period with early Kickstarters. I had a clearance cart filled with board games that had great reviews and no sales. What did they have in common? All Kickstarter projects. I could have said, "Nein! No more Kickstarter!" But I experimented and looked at what worked and what didn't to find a metric for my store that worked. But really, fringe with maybe a dozen exceptions in a store that carries 25,000 SKUs.

I'll also say my store has supported 25+ projects and in the beginning, there was no project with a retailer buy in that I woudn't support. Now I preach there is no way any Kickstarter project makes sense for retailers when cash is tied up, due to opportunity costs.

As for game stores, it is boom time for game stores right now. Absolutely booming. We're all rolling in cash, expanding, buying tons of product, and wondering how long this bubble will last. It's not a SF Bay Area phenomena, it's everywhere. The distributors feel it and they're flush with cash for a change, which is nice when I can get some of the benefits. it's a Magic trifecta: the recovering economy, the decline of World of Warcraft, and some really excellent Magic brand management. Game store owners aren't asking when they'll die. They're speculating when the money tap will be turned off.

Oh, and we're planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help fund our expansion.

Gary L. Ray
Black Diamond Games, Ltd.
1950 Market Street, Suite E
Concord, CA 94520
 

Heavy Arms

Registered User
Validated User
Kickstarter doesn't have zero role in game stores, although probably 90% of stores ignore the stuff, since it's mostly fringe.
What does this have to do with the response I made to the specific points you had made? Kickstarter not being great for Brick & Mortar retailers does not have anything to do so with (1) Kickstarter not being able to produce marketable products or (2) Kickstarter supplanting non-traditional niche product distribution channels.

But really, fringe with maybe a dozen exceptions in a store that carries 25,000 SKUs.
Yeah, finding the wheat in the chaff of marketable Kickstarter drives is not easy. But that's because making Brick & Mortar store profitable products is not Kickstarter's primary purpose. But those dozen or whatever projects that were actually worth you picking up wouldn't have existed at all in the traditional production system.

It's not a SF Bay Area phenomena, it's everywhere.
Bullshit. I'm aware it is not unique to the SF Bay area, but it is not a universal thing. You operate in the CMSA with the highest median household income in the country (and around double the national average). There's also over 7 million people in the Bay area. Where I live? The average household makes $18K less a year and there's only around half a million people. Gaming stores are not booming here. There isn't as much money to go around and there's a hell of a lot less people to support any niche market. Do you really think that what's working in the suburbs of major cities that have relatively larger amounts of people with disposable income is the same as what's going on for those of us out in the tiny cities dotting the country?
 

Griffon Games

Game Store Guy
Validated User
Bullshit. I'm aware it is not unique to the SF Bay area, but it is not a universal thing. You operate in the CMSA with the highest median household income in the country (and around double the national average). There's also over 7 million people in the Bay area. Where I live? The average household makes $18K less a year and there's only around half a million people. Gaming stores are not booming here. There isn't as much money to go around and there's a hell of a lot less people to support any niche market. Do you really think that what's working in the suburbs of major cities that have relatively larger amounts of people with disposable income is the same as what's going on for those of us out in the tiny cities dotting the country?
Well, our store in Greenfield, MA (rural by anybody's standards, half the median income of SF and closest metro area a 45 minute drive - and it aint a big one) has managed to thrive over the past 14 years. We're not swimming in money but we did decide to open a 2nd store a few years ago. This area also manages to support 6 game stores in a relatively small area.

I don't think we're seeing a lot of new store openings, but I think if the economy were recovering faster we would definitely see more Magic-focused stores popping up because it really is doing stupidly well right now.

Gary may see things through his Bay-area glasses, but he's not ill-informed. I read his business blog regularly and I'm rarely in disagreement with his assessment of the game business.
 

DrNate

Who threw my pants in the
I guess I could imagine Kickstarter killing the game stores by tying up all of our disposable income by promising us SUPER AWESOME STUFF that we might never consider purchasing if we just saw it sitting on a shelf in a game store. I don't know if that's a real thing, but I can see it for myself. Having a whole month (and ONLY one month) to decide if I should invest gives me lots of time to talk myself into contributing and raising and raising my pledge (Mage 20) compounded with the shame of missing past KS projects and having to live with GONE FOREVER (Changing Breeds 20 screen) or that feeling of EVERYBODY IS ENJOYING IT BUT YOU (Chuubo) makes me feel like I NEED to spend that money when a Kickstarter catches my eye. It just isn't quite the same for me at a game store, Amazon, or DriveThru.
 
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