Welcome to 2018. A year of huge changes as I see it. But before we head into that, first things first.
Congratulations to Isaac Childres, and his epic Gloomhaven game. Congratulations on reaching #1 on BGG. Congratulations on publishing the perfect KS game, the dream project, the game no publisher would ever release – the game with an absolutely absurd amount of cardboard packed in the ridiculous sized box. Congratulations on running the second campaign for the game. Congratulations on becoming the stamp, the moment in the history of board games, publishing the game, that changed the industry.
The industry is changing. Gloomhaven might be one of the best visual and spectacular examples of that.
I’ve spent most of 2017 talking with retailers and distributors about changes in the industry. I’ve run seminars for retailers and I’ve visited most of the distributors in U.S. and Europe discussing the topic. E-commerce is a fact. The Internet is a fact. Amazon, Alexa, eBay, discounters are a fact.
This is not fucking herpes you can wait over. Amazon is only going to get stronger.
Retail business – including game stores – is in trouble. Hence my seminars, hence my efforts to help best brick and mortar stores with event kits, with demo team running events, with early launch policy for each our product.
Even though, 2018 will be super hard for retailers. This Internet thing is pretty strong.
I’ve talked with many publishers and KS creators in 2017. Without giving names and focusing rather on general trend rather than particular cases, there are more and more KS creators who no longer dream about getting their game to regular distribution. The format, the process we knew from previous years – do a successful KS, print games, and then hope to find the distributor to sign a deal.
Gloomhaven did not look for the distributor. They just run another campaign and sold more copies that way than 99% of publishers in this industry will ever sell of any of their titles.
Creators of Batman board game already announced the game is Kickstarter exclusive and they don’t mean to look for distribution. There are more creators, who are less vocal, less likely to go public with their strategy, but they don’t see value in the distribution channels. They prefer to reach their customer directly, through KS.
That is an interesting question to see if distributors manage to get biggest KS games into their channels.
7 out of 10 the most anticipated board games of 2017 (based on BGG poll) were Kickstarter games. This is absolutely shocking proportion and shows that for many players (10k geeks voted) KS is the main source for exciting, awesome, great games, while publishers offer rather bland regular releases.
Are publishers playing too safe? Are their releases just another euro game, just another deck building game, just another release in the catalog and that’s why no excitement? Or maybe it is rather the problem of no marketing, the problem of too many games released by each publisher, the street dates are that crowded that particular titles no longer have time to shine?
All 3 publisher’s games from the list – Pandemic Legacy Season 2, First Martians and Charterstone had a long pre-release campaign and built a huge hype, just like KS projects regularly do, with a ton of buzz created a months before release.
Big titles released in a regular way, like new game from Eric Lang (Godfather), new game from Bruno Cathalha (Secrets), new game from Rob Daviou (Montains of Madness), new game from Bruno Cathala (Yamatai), new game from Vlaada Chvatil (That’s the question) did not get that much hype this year, when compared to 7th Continent, Gloomhaven or This War of Mine.
The market is changing. I am excited. I am scared. I am focused. I am eager to see what 2018 will bring us. What’s your thought on the topic?
Originally published on BTTS blog on BGG forum: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/72278/doorstep-new-era