Yep.. I'm pissed.
Kickstarter just announced that they will no longer allow publishers to offer 'bulk or retail' discounts on their products...effectively shutting us out of the loop now.
As of this moment, I have spent over $2000 on products. I've helped support games for 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, Reaper Miniatures, Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Flying Buffalo Inc. Crash Games and many MANY more.
For years, I've beat my head against the desk with the rise of PDF's. I've seen great games and gaming companies abandoning print runs for the domain of digital publishing. Looking at it objectively, who can blame them. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to bring a book to market, and then have to undergo the trial of market acceptance. It doesn't take many brain cells to figure out why publishers would rather go the route of digital pdf publishing for their RPG's, and even the occasional board game. It makes a whole bunch of financial sense for publishers to be able to eliminate that huge, up front, publishing cost, and go direct to their consumers.
However as a retailer, it chaps my ass to hear my customers talking about all of the awesome books they're getting online that I can't provide to them. Now, some people say that's just greed on my part, that I'm upset because I can't get a cut of it. The noble part of me wants to say "no...that's not it.. I like being able to present these fine things to my customers, and let them know that I care about them and what they want by having a diverse selection." However the realist part of me then says "OF COURSE IT GODDAMN IS ABOUT ME NOT GETTING A CUT!". I'm a retailer. I do this to - make money -, and when I see gaming dollars bypassing the retailer that DOES piss me off to some degree.
Or, as another man, far better with words said :
“About 50% of the human race is middlemen and they don’t take kindly to being eliminated.”
Captain Malcolm Reynolds
Captain Malcolm Reynolds
Now, kickstarter. It's a fairly recent comer on the scene, and I looked on with a little bit of amusement when I started seeing some projects some up on it. Then..I saw that one of them..the Far West game had a 'retailer support level' on it. At the risk of sounding crass..I touched myself when I saw that. Here was a game publisher, who was 1) overcoming the burden of initial print run costs. 2) significantly eliminating the 'well now we hope it sells now that we've spend all that money on a print run. ( now..points 1 and 2 sure do look an awful lot like the benefits of pdf...Buuuuuut...) 3) have a physical print book out there, that people can hold in their hands and flip through 4) let me as a retailer stock the product on my shelves and let me do what I do best. SELL BOOKS.
It was a glorious moment. I signed up immediately. I giggled like a schoolgirl at the thought of publishers coming BACK to the print market, confident if their project was funded that the demand WAS out there. I cavorted around the store with the thought of no longer having to wistfully look at DriveThru RPG and hope that some of the stuff there would one day make it to my shelves. I frolicked up and down the length of my RPG wall, giddy that my RPG selection (one of the best in the state, and I'd honestly put it in the top 10% in the nation) would have even MORE diversity. I needed a cigarette.
Now kickstarter comes along and tells the publisher that it can no longer offer retailer levels or 'bulk discounts'. *insert sound of a car hitting a wall at 100 mph*. Wut? All of a sudden now, I'm being cut out of the loop AGAIN. Now, with the pdf thing, there were some huge logistical hurdles there keeping retailers out of the loop, it wasn't JUST a 'money thing'
This TOTALLY is just a 'money thing'.
What was that Mal? “About 50% of the human race is middlemen and they don’t take kindly to being eliminated.” Thanks much, good buddy, glad ya got my back.
At this point I'm just reduced to an agape mouth, with a severe look of 'what the fuck' on my face. Yet again, I get to watch as a new distribution scheme manages to completely avoid me, the retailer, and in essence, take money from my pocket.
Some might say that 'just wait a little while...these products will end up in distribution...you'll eventually be able to get them.' That I highly doubt. The vast majority of sales on a product will be in it's initial release. If a manufacturer makes a game, and releases it through kickstarter, then THAT's where the majority of the sales will be made. Any sales through the distributor will be afterthought sales, and likely will not amount to enough number to make it worthwhile for them to carry. Also, it's likely that the manufacturers, using the kickstarter system will be printing enough copies to be able to even stock the distributor warehouses, as making a bunch of copies that you aren't sure are going to sell is sort of at counter odds to the whole approach of a kickstarter project in the first place.
So..once again, retailers are left out in the cold. On the outside looking in. And people wonder why more and more retailers are leaving the industry for greener pastures elsewhere.
Thanks again Kickstarter. Thanks for nothing.