Profile photo of Fred Keiper By Fred Keiper On October 29, 2010 Posted In Other

The lack of local scene

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October 29, 2010

I was in my local comic shop the other afternoon.  My friend and I were looking to bring our figs and just play a game or two in the back room.  The store was dead, the proprietor said it was fine.  We set up, start playing, and somewhere in the middle the shopkeeper offers his two cents.  Paraphrasing, he said, “With so many sites online offering to sell full armies and singles it takes away from the store-based CMG sales, which in turn leads to a lack of a local scene, and ultimately a game’s failure.  So that’s why we stopped ordering Monsterpocalypse.”

Since I found Team Covenant it’s reinvigorated my love for MonPoc, but I sure as sugar made my mind up to not go buying stuff in random boxes.  I’ve ordered several things from eBay and just ordered an army from TC.  As a shopkeeper of a video game store, I can empathize with his concern since he sees no product moving.  Since the hobby is centered around people gathering together and playing it’s good to have a place to go and play that offers the chance to meet new people.

What would it change for the business to not be collectible?  Should it?  Would that put too much of a hurt on PP, or would they just need to do more demographic research to find out which figures to overproduce?  My apologies if this topic’s been done to death, I’ve not had the chance to catch up on old posts.

  1. I can’t imagine it doing worse if it went non-collectable. But I’m not an expert on such marketing statistics. I will say though, the point that the store owner had in your article isn’t just an isolated thing. It’s the same situation at gaming stores around me as well.

    It’s just so much easier to buy online. People want to save on time and money.

  2. Personally, when starting a new army, I whole heartedly agree with the convenience of buying online. I bought my Apes from Covenant, and plan on picking up another soon. But even still, I periodically buy boosters just to add some variety to my collection, should I decide to take a look at another faction. Nice to have a smattering of everything to kinda pick and choose from. The local scene doesn’t really exist here either, but I am desperately trying to make it happen. Personally, I think it would do better as a non-collectible. Tons of people play WARMACHINE/HORDES at the local shop, and the only hesitation they have to MonPoc is the collectible purchase angle.

  3. I agree in that it’s important for the game to support your brick and mortar store, which is why every now and then I’ll buy a unit booster on a whim, but the way your FLGS guy phrased it just made him sound like a bitter dick.

    A game can be collectible and still have a singles market. I think it would hurt Monpoc a lot more if it had to directly compete with Warmahordes and Warhammer.

  4. @Tekkactus – He was just being more matter-of-fact than anything, I suppose there’s gotta be some resentment when you run tournaments and do the prize support and the game doesn’t sell.

    I don’t think MonPoc will ever have to directly compete with those games though. I played Warhammer ages ago and left it for two reasons: time and money. I love MonPoc since the figs are pre-painted and still look cool, and I don’t have to spend a lot to get what I need to play.

    If there was an affordable pre-painted version of Warmachine or Hordes or even Warhammer, I’d probably play it. But from what I can gather, it’s called Monsterpocalypse and I already do. :)

    That said – I understand the commercial appeal of making it collectible. A variety of units and monsters means you’re more likely to buy more packs to fill out full armies, and you’re also intended to have others to play with that you can then trade with. But for people who don’t really have a local scene (or are afraid they’ll punch those people who do want to play locally – stupid mouth-breathing pricks) it’s tough to buy it all alone in pack form. They’d probably be getting more of my money if I could pick and choose a five-pack of Raptix or whatever. Upcharge an extra 10-20% for the boxes and deliver exactly what the consumer needs.

    Part of me would just love to have a sit-down with the merchandise coordinator of PP to see what their thoughts are.

  5. Is there anything stopping a FLGS from busting open the boosters and selling them as singles? I guess he runs the risk of not selling certain things, but if online sites have pulled it off I see no reason why a local store (with access to eBay!) couldn’t do the same thing.

    1. Its a question of determination. Most stores could do just like Team Covenant and make a tidy profit. Even Ebay will generate a profit.

      Monpoc is an odd collectible game in that most every box you open has figures worth more on resale that the value of the unopened box it came from.

      It shocks me that they dont see the value in that and act accordingly.

  6. In the beginning of all this, Zach and I had many long conversations about whether or not online sales do indeed lead to the “drying up” of gaming communities based on shopkeepers not moving product.

    The answer that we came to, of course, is “NO”.

    Hopefully Zach will see this and respond with his thoughts, because they are pretty much the thing that convinced me.

    That said, shopkeepers have a pretty sweet gig…they just don’t recognize it. There are people willing to come into the store and pay the store owner an entry fee just to play there for prizes that cost the store owner nothing. That’s quite the bargain if they’re willing to recognize it.

    1. I think to a degree, having singles available does impact booster sales. The question is, are the case sales that stores make enough to justify the shelf space for the merchandise they don’t sell by the case for them? I wonder if the character units and Installations from S3 spurred additional booster sales?

      I know that I’m approaching the point where my collection is large enough that I’m feeling less pressure to buy in large amounts right after a series launches. With the way case prices for the last series even have started to drop, I’m wondering if I can wait long enough and just me a case 6 months after release date for half price.

      And then there’s single buying. On release, I can get exactly the figures I want for less than what my booster budget would probably be.

      I don’t know how common I am in terms of that type of player, though…one who primarily plays only 2 factions, although I have acquired more through trade that I enjoy playing, too.

  7. I can see his (the store owner’s) point, but I don’t entirely agree with it.

    If the only thing determining whether or not he supports the game is random booster sales, then of course, they’ll drop it as soon as the community matures to a point where people have what they need.

    If they’re basing support for the game on the players coming in for events, then that’s a different ball game entirely. I think the store has the responsibility to keep their own players involved, even if it means coming up with prizes outside of what the game’s producers provide.

    I play games because I enjoy the social aspect. If my store doesn’t support the social part of the game, then I won’t play it there. And there are plenty of ways to support the social aspect of a game without depending wholeheartedly on what the company sends out in the prize packs.

    1. I agree with your stand on the social aspect of gaming. If you like to play games then you’re going to need other people to play with/against. If a store doesn’t support the social aspect of a game then the store is doing a poor job of supporting their own playerbase – the very playerbase that is ensuring that the store continues to do business.

      1. But that player base are the people that are only playing the game there – not the people who are buying any product, since they’re getting it online.

  8. I disagree, Philip. As a businessman, if a product doesn’t do well even when I’ve given my efforts to hold tournaments every weekend with prize support, I’d likely come to the same decision. I have other products that do sell that I can use my time and energy toward creating an even larger player base of paying customers rather than sink effort into a decaying product to hopefully spur sales.

    I do think there’s a responsibility to keep players involved, but we’re talking about a collectible minis game. Having a common space to play and offering prizes is not only the standard, it’s almost all you *can* do for the game.

    So bringing this back around to the original point, would it be more of a benefit to have a game like MonPoc be non-collectible? I think there still would be room for things like the TC store since they’ve developed a great product in the Army Pack, but ultimately it would also help the local stores sell exactly what their consumers want without giving profits to eBay. Privateer’s end of the profit and loss report is where I’m unsure. Would they benefit or not from such a switch?

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