Should Days of Wonder start killing games?

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arenson9
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Should Days of Wonder start killing games?

http://nickbentleygames.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/board-game-publishers-are-doing-it-wrong/

 

"If I were Days of Wonder, in addition to publishing one game a year, I’d start killing games. I’d kill a bunch up front and then one game a year thereafter, to keep the total in publication stable. Or at least I’d set some kind of sales threshold: if a game doesn’t achieve a certain sales growth number by a certain point, kill it, because it’s unlikely to get into the magic circle where it spreads itself."

 

 


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Pydro
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I guess after Essen, you will quite strongly about that.

One strategy I like for a company withn lots of games is GMT P500. Essentially, they have their entire product line available to order. However, they don't reproduce a game until they have a certain number of pre-orders. Everything month they update the list, so you can see where everything stands.

GMT P500


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phantaskippy
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I originally wrote a huge essay about this article, and how it sin't really a great idea.

Then I realized that his strategy he espouses (and even more so after reading his follow up article about how to gauge if a game will sell) is pretty much what >G is doing, aside from the killing games argument.

>G disn't exactly have a huge budget when they started out, but they have sunk a lot of resources back into the game to make the cards better quality, the packaging better and more attractive, and spent a lot of time and energy marketting the game the best way you can market a game like this, by teaching it to others.

My problem with the article is the idea of killing games.  Unless you have limited resources and are sacrificing resources better games need to keep lesser games alive (which should really only occur if the company is failing or the game is losing money) it doesn't make sense to stop producing a game that doesn't need design or marketting resources to sell even a small number.  

The whole article is about economics of the margin, and the cost of printing a game when needed doesn't affect the creation of newer, better games.

The initial investment is what you need to recoup, the more you sell the less initial investment you need to recoup, and eventually you are done with initial investment and your cost is production and logistics, and a game that loses money in that situation doesn't require a tough decision to kill it.

Perhaps the real questions are:

1.  Should small game companies be focusing on making a big seller first, and then worry about making quality games once a cash cow is in the bag?

2.  How valuable is the shared experience of gaming, as opposed to the love of a game itself?

The first question seems to be the argument he is making, that if you want to make games and money, sink all you have into making that one hit game and pushing it as far as you can, then sit back and collect and make game you want to make.  Problem is that isn't easy to do, and small companies don't have the resources to push games that hard.

The second question is about Saturation.  The Game market is over-saturated, we hear that, but is it really true?  If the market is oversaturated game makers will know because their game won't sell.  If the games are still selling then the the issue is that saturation hurts individual games by letting people find one they like better instead of having to settle for one that they like less because other games don't exist.

That second issue is really a gripe all companies have, if there wasn't competition I'd sell more.  Welcome to capitalism is my answer to that problem.  The market doesn't worry about oversaturation occuring, when it occurs games fail and companies cease to exist and balance is restored.  The way to survive is to make a game that succeeds, not make fewer ones.  Make someone else's game fail.

I know several people that don't play their Marvel heroes deck building abomination (I don't like that game) because they played Sentinels and now that game seems not fun.  That is how it works, and how it should work.

Silverleaf
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If you're in the gaming industry to make a lot of oney, you're doing it wrong.

Killing the "unpopular" games? Blech. Then we end up with a bunch of generic lowest common denominator games that people buy each other for Christmas but no-one ever really plays, without the wonderful variety of awesome games out there that are amazing but that will only appeal to a specific group of people.


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well, he works with the premise that if you are not in the mass market it's not worth doing business. If you hold that to be true then his conlcusion is quite logical.

Still, at the end of his article he pretty much admits that he is talking smack so you it's more worth discussing (IMO) the premise from which he works from. The other one debatable is that the market is saturated: it might be true, but the market is also expanding.

Also I think Carcassonne is an example of a game that used to be mass-market self sustaining but is declining now. Dominion might be in a similar position. So getting into mass-market is not truly the happy ending, you need deep cultural/tradition penetration to get to the Monopoly level.

Envisioner
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Simple answer: "No."

I pretty much agree with Silverleaf's take on the matter.


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btw, the article doesn't reflect what the title of the thread asks. The article says more companies should aim to do what DoW is doing.

Envisioner
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That may be the main thrust, but he does propose that DoW aggressively kill their existing games in addition to restricting new game production.  I disagree with the former suggestion much more vehemently than the latter, and might even support the latter.  The market is glutted; limiting the rate at which new creations are added is not unreasonable, but there is no sense whatseover in ceasing to support or produce a game just because it sells poorly, as you'd just be eliminating the ability to make the few sales it will manage in future, and for no real reason.  It costs you little enough just to let it stay in your catalog, accessible to the largest retailers who can find room for "the rest" on their shelves, and have one guy in the office who keeps a knowledge of the game on the back burner and occasionally posts an FAQ or answers a fan letter.  I believe the outliers should always have a place, and that actively "culling" things down to only the most popular is the best possible way to turn them into meaningless pabulum.  Bad enough that this happens in virtually every other sector of society, from music to clothing to architecture...the game world at least ought to remain a haven for curious eccentricities, which the rare eclectic taste can discover and appreciate for their very obscurity.


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Well, the MMORPG world has long fallen to this particular effect, annoyingly. Hoping I can play (as close to) the original Everquest (as possible) some day. No other MMORPG has seemed interesting to me. As far as I can gather, these days, everything is basically a WoW clone, highly casual-friendly, with no real need to group up with people or otherwise be helpful to them, easy levelling, no death penalty, etc.

I seem to have a thing for tending to like stuff that not many people like. If a games company had a load of games and I liked one of them the best, chances are that might be one of the more unpopular ones and then it might get shut down and I'd be disappointed that nothing further would be released for it. Mind you, I'm still content enough with Sentinels that I've got no plans to go looking elsewhere just yet ;).


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Ameena wrote:
If a games company had a load of games and I liked one of them the best, chances are that might be one of the more unpopular ones and then it might get shut down and I'd be disappointed that nothing further would be released for it.

I sympathize greatly with this point of view.


"Is there beauty in a forest, if no creature stops and calls it lovely, now and then? Isn't that what 'sapience' is for?"
--David Brin, "Brightness Reef"

Silverleaf
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I was wondering how exactly you "kill" an unpopular game anyway - what does this even mean? Destroy the few thousand unsold copies you have left in stock? I'd think it'd make better business sense to sell it off cheap or even donate to charity or something rather than pay for it to be pulped.

That said, I'm all for letting the bad games die a natural death by just not printing any more of them, and of course not producing expansions (they won't sell anyway, so what's the point).

But I guess it's important to remember that the majority of people who buy boardgames aren't boardgamers. They are grandparents who buy their grandkid Monopoly as a stocking filler for Christmas, or couples who buy Trivial Pursuit to play at dinner parties with their friends, or parents who get Candyland to teach their kids to take turns (or let's be honest, to keep them quiet for a few minutes).

It would be silly to "kill" the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport because very few people buy it, and only make Ford Fiestas because they sell way better.


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Silverleaf wrote:
That said, I'm all for letting the bad games die a natural death by just not printing any more of them

But we're not talking about "bad" games, just unpopular ones.


"Is there beauty in a forest, if no creature stops and calls it lovely, now and then? Isn't that what 'sapience' is for?"
--David Brin, "Brightness Reef"

phantaskippy
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We aren't even talking about unprofitable games, those don't need to be killed.

We are talking about removing from the market games that still sell, just so that everyone can focus on mega-games that have a better chance of turning a substantial profit.

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phantaskippy wrote:

We aren't even talking about unprofitable games, those don't need to be killed.We are talking about removing from the market games that still sell, just so that everyone can focus on mega-games that have a better chance of turning a substantial profit.

Taking profitable games that are still selling off the market would most likely create an artificial scarcity for that product. Halting the supply of a good would generate greater demand (since its still selling) and drive the price per unit way up.

I doubt the actual goal is one of altruism, killing off games for the benefit of the people so that they can spend their limited attention and money elsewhere. The goal is to turn a chunck of a saturated market (which is a debatable point in and of itself) into a collectors market. Who pays more for a good than a collector? 

Silverleaf
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Envisioner wrote:
Silverleaf wrote:
That said, I'm all for letting the bad games die a natural death by just not printing any more of them

But we're not talking about "bad" games, just unpopular ones.

Sure. It was more of an aside than anything else.


Just assume I'm always doing that.

Damn it, Ronway!