Fantasy Flight Games: Consolidation & Change Ahead!

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The Online Retail Channel is getting a shake-up from FFG as the consolidation with Asmodee and Days of Wonder moves forward.

It looks like that merger is starting to make some big waves – at least if you’re an online retailer of Fantasy Flight Games. Not only are the business operations for Asmodee moving from Montreal to FFG’s Headquarters in Roseville, Minnesorta – FFG’s CEO Christian Petersen will become the CEO of Asmodee North America. They are also launching some new online sales and mail order policies. Take a look:

via ICv2

New sales policies for specialty retailers will take effect on April 1.  Those policies will restrict sales by game stores to “consumer transactions through retailers’ physical retail locations” and at cons.  Online sales and mail order will be prohibited with exceptions granted for online retailers that “contribute either significant scale, unique service, or other exceptional differentiation,” the company said.  Those sales will take place under separate terms of sale from the Specialty Retail terms.

New CEO Christian Petersen explained the change in the companies’ online sales policy.  “The marketplace has long been distorted by providing one-size-fits-all sales terms to every retail account, regardless of its channel of sale,” he said. “The growth in demand for games over the last decade, in our view, has been fueled not only by fantastic product, but by the support of specialty retailers who incubate personal connections between players, facilitate tournaments and leagues, provide instant product availability, and increasingly provide a ‘third place’ that is instrumental for so many gamers to enjoy and discover our products. The retailer cost of providing such channel services is significant, and so we’re now making policy changes to ensure that the sales terms provided to those retailers, relative to other channels, are positively reflective of the value they add to our distribution chain.”

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The company also announced some changes for their distribution channels as well. Go check out the full article here, it’s an interesting read. The speculation is that these changes are designed to bolster relations with Brick & Mortar stores vs the online retailer shops that only offer their products at deep discounts. Basically, FFG knows the value-add of the FLGS and is trying to make changes to help support those places vs “faceless” online/mail-order shops. How you feel about saving money vs supporting your local retailer can tint the way you view this announcement.

Whatever your view the changes are coming April 1st. If you’re just a fan and a player you’re probably going to notice some changes in the online shopping retail channel. If you’re a retailer you might want to start investigating your retail and distribution agreements.

 

What’s your take? Good move to help support the local gaming scene or unnecessarily messing online/mail-order sales? Let us know in the comments below!

  • TL:DR;

    FFG have turned evil but don’t worry, it’s an early April Fool.

    • Ted

      Not evil at all.

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        Totally evil, in the sense of a corporation maximizing profit and pushing competition out of business.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    So they are basically trying to eliminate online retailers to force people to go to brick and mortar shops.

    • JJ

      Yep it sucks! FFG needs to keep to selling it’s product and stop trying to manipulate the market! Some of us don’t have local brick and mortar stores to go to.

      • Ted

        No one wants to open one while they have to compete with CSI and MM.

  • Necro Alienerd

    FFG is First Order confirmed.

  • SundaySilence

    I really don’t know what to make of this. On the one hand; discount control means the hobby gets a little more expensive but on the other hand; increased focus on store’s means drawing in new players and keeping it all going. Don’t know….

    • Dave

      It’s not about the stores, it’s about creating an exclusive online presence. They are masking the move under the auspice of supporting the little guys. That’s bull. The little guys won’t even be allowed to sell FFG stuff on their store web sites (even at suggested retail price). Imagine if you have pushed FFG (Star Wars) games for years and depended on sales from your store website, then FFG (Asmodee) sends a letter out dictating that you can’t sell their products on your store page anymore- oh and that change starts in about 3 weeks. Classy stuff right there. It’s sad really. I love X-Wing, and won’t be stopping anytime soon, but I also won’t be collecting all three factions if I have to buy full retail.

      • JJ

        AKA: Thanks for helping us make our games successful! Now we need you to just forward us all that business so we can make 100% of that profit.

        • Then just buy from Amazon if you would prefer the extra money to go to an evil megacorp than to the people who, you know, actually make the games in the first place.

          Because FFG are giving the best discount to Amazon, no matter what.

          • Dave

            FFG is getting the same amount of money regardless. Any discounts from MM or CSI are dependent on the price they get those products from FFG. They don’t sell at a loss. This equates to a huge mark up to a large portion of customers.

          • I was referring to FFG selling direct or through a distributor that gives them a higher margin than Amazon would.

            I’m not sure what your point is.

    • Cergorach

      No offense, but the days of attracting new players to games through B&M stores is pretty much gone. Most of the western world has Internet, those that don’t most often can’t afford FFG products, it allows us to actually see folks explaining the game, reviewing it and actual play. It shouldn’t surprise people that many people don’t feel the need to spend 2 hours driving to the gamestore, hoping they have the item in stock, paying parking, getting stuck in traffic, driving back 2 hours. I spent way to much time in my youth at the game store (I also spent too much money there), it didn’t keep the stores around, most games/companies either went belly up or the IPs changed hands multiple times.

      FFG is trying to get the online retail market into it’s own hands, it’s the most profitable, and keep the perceived value of it’s products high. So discounts are out, web stores are out, at least in NA. Luckily I live in the EU and Asmodee will have issues pushing such policies, just like GW had.

      I have a lot of FFG products, board games, LCG, miniature games, even RPGs. Bought a bunch of X-wing cheap second hand, Armada and Imperial Assault went on the back burner due to other cool stuff coming out the last year. But if I had to pay full price (€120/box) at a store instead of the €85, shipped to my door, that box is going so far down my wishlist it could just as easily not be on it…

      • Dave

        Agreed. These days everyone I know buys gaming stuff from a particular online store. To me, Miniature Market IS my FLGS. Cutting my favorite store out of the loop only guarantees that I buy less. I’ve grown accustomed to their reduced pricing. FFG made no less money from MM purchases than B&M stores. This is basically a 25% price hike on online products, which they will have an almost exclusive hold on. Not cool.
        I’ve always respected FFG. I really hope they find a way to justify this and nurture that perceived value. Maybe with expanded content or special offers. Otherwise, I’ll prob stick to ebay and Amazon and get used to paying more and buying less.

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        No offense but your opinion is wrong about local stores. I see people coming in all the time to try out new games. Just because you’ve had bad experiences with local shops does not mean you can extrapolate that out to everyone, every where.

        • Can I actually be offensive? 🙂

          No? Okay. But do the math. The size of the gaming market is WAY WAY bigger than what could be created or even maintained by local stores alone. There are whole cities and probably countries in the world that have no FLGS at all. There’s really not that many FLGS around. And if you add them all up, and add up the number of brand new customers they have every week (real people don’t accidentally walk into a FLGS and discover a love for wargaming, no matter how much you want it to be true), it’s a drop in the ocean compared to good old-fashioned word-of-mouth and now the internet.

          Just because you are lucky enough to live near a FLGS doesn’t mean you can extrapolate that out to the whole planet either. 🙂

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            I am not saying local stores are the be all and end all but they are an important tent pole when it comes to fostering communities. Communities foster reliable sales.

            I have played a ton of games where the only people who played were me and my close friends. When they dropped off playing, I was forced to do the same because I had no one to play. Even with the internet, finding people – good people that I would invite into my home – is really difficult and arduous. So when my friend stopped playing, I did too. More importantly, I stopped buying.

            This is where Clubs and Stores (that offer game space) are so important. They foster a community and through that community they generate a continuous stream of sales.

            To say that their role in the hobby is outdated and outmoded is fallacious.

          • Nobody has said FLGS are outdated and outmoded, just that they’re not the force for bringing in new players that they used to be.

            And you’re not providing new evidence to the contrary, you’re just repeating your point while putting words in other people’s mouths so you can call them liars.

            Darn it, I keep forgetting I’m on the internet – that’s what people do here. 🙂

            But to be constructive, I think the best way to find new players is to introduce existing friends to the hobby, rather than finding strangers who play and try to make them your friends. That way they’re pre-screened, and they probably shower more than once a year too. 🙂

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            As I said, friends and relatives are good people to jump into a hobby with but their interest will wax and wane with time. When it wanes, you are often left alone with no one to play with/against. That is why clubs and local stores are so important. They provide you with a place to play strangers (who may one day become friends (or even relatives)).

            Regardless, most clubs have dues and most stores want you to buy product from them. Either way, you (or someone else, if you are a free loader) has to pay for the ability for you to met strangers who have similar interests as yourself.

            Additionally, clubs and shops are hugely important in maintaining a hobby’s community and that community will often push hesitant people over the edge from not playing to playing.

            That’s the reason I played Magic originally – I wanted to play the game and there was a community for it (unlike the Gundam TCG, the Pokemon CCG and the Duel Masters TCG, all of whom I played with friends who lost interest and left me with mountains of useless cards).

            I did the same thing with 40k. People played it, so it pushed me over the edge.

            I remember loving Warmahordes and jumping in, then being disappointed that no one wanted to play the game (after the initial interest flagged). I shelved the game for years until interest picked up again.

      • euansmith

        I’ve gone one stage further. Going in to a B&M Store just leaves me confused with the abundance of items on offer; the same is true of many on line stores. To comfortably limit my options, I just tend to back stuff on Kickstarter.

        • Me, I get confused in S&M stores. I can’t tell if I’m coming or going.

  • Alhazred TheMad

    I don’t care as long as their GW licensed products still continue.

  • georgelabour

    Everyday FFG becomes a little more GW than GW.

    • Badruk

      They are GW in disguise!

      • euansmith

        Hail Hydra!

  • Dave

    They want to set up their own store online and limit online sales from other places. Just like GW did, which I would argue hurt GW and is detested by most of their customers. It’s a bad move. I personally buy almost everything FFG online, most of the time with a good discount. That won’t be an option soon. The reality for me is that instead of picking up two small ships for 20$, I’ll just buy the one. So, less spent, less earned.

  • Countdiscount

    Makes sense IMO. Online stores are killing brick and mortar retail sales, so there needs to be some reason to come to a brick and mortar store, even if they can’t compete price wise.

    • Cergorach

      B&M stores are killing B&M stores, limited product, both in depth and width, high prices, not the best sales staff (either knowledge of customer service skills), parking, travel, screaming kids (not your own, of course), etc. We’re not keeping gaslights around to keep the guy lighting the lamps in business, are we?

      Staff is always low paid, running a games store doesn’t earn much. So it’s either someone that needs a job and often doesn’t know the product their selling like we do. Or it’s someone that’s working in the games store that does so for the love of the game, often those don’t have the customer service skills necessary to actually talk to ‘normal’ customers. Sometimes a store lucks out and they’ll have someone that can do both but those don’t stick around, the game store job won’t pay the bills forever, better opportunities arise, etc.

      You can keep a gamestore alive if you can foster a local community, but the thing is, most people FFG sells to play at home, not at a store… So what exactly is the added value for going to the game store?

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        You have a very dim view of local gaming stores.

        • Cergorach

          One word: Experience, both as a customer, working in retail and running a game webstore. The webstore was certainly not my day job, at the time B&M stores in the Netherlands were pretty close to ripping people off (very high prices, very small selection), not many stores around, folks either didn’t have a credit card or weren’t used to ordering outside the country. When years later Amazon.de and Amazon.co.uk were able to sell under the wholesale prices I paid, I was happy to point customers in that direction. In the last fifteen years I haven’t been a regular at a game store, the 15 years previous to that I was a very regular 😉

          Go talk to folks who own or run a game store, talk money and most if not all will let you know that it’s not anywhere near a get rich quick scheme…

          Stocking deep and wide is a huge risk, most stores just can’t afford that risk. Same goes for paying employees. Same goes for rent.

          As a customer buying online at a discount means I can afford 25% more stuff then buying from a B&M store, even more if I add in travel costs, time, parking, etc. I would be a fool to do differently when B&M stores have so little to offer me…

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            You have obviously had some bad experiences. There are 4 Game Stores in my town and all of them a good to great. Maybe the culture in the Netherlands is just different than in the US.

            You criticism about stock are true for any small business. They have to balance the amount of stuff they keep in the store off against how much of that stuff will actually sell and how quickly it will move off the shelves.

            B&M stores, in the US, offer table space and a convenient location to get together with friends. That is real value for money, even for games that can be played at home. Seriously, I don’t want some weirdo I don’t know coming into my house but i will gladly play them at a game store.

            In the US, everyone has a car and is used to traveling longer distances to go places (due to urban sprawl).

          • Cergorach

            As someone who lived most of his life in a big city (Amsterdam), A lot of folks don’t have cars due to parking and/or traffic. I suspect that every gaming store in downtown an area has a problem with gaming space. There’s no real dedicated gaming store in Amsterdam due to rent, those that were around had very limited space, enough to allow maybe allow a handful of people to play. In Utrecht (another city), ~45km from Amsterdam, an hour by public transportation, ~45min by car if you don’t have any traffic (that could extend the trip by an hour). So let’s say a total of 2 hour travel and €20 in tickets (public transport) to get me that €120+€20 FFG game Armada, while I could currently order it online for €85 shipped, that’s 65% more expensive. Fuel and cars are a LOT more expensive in Europe, especially in the Netherlands, during rush hour a lot of the country is in gridlock.

            B&M stores can’t survive on the people that play at the store. There might be some exceptions in the US, some huge cheap spaces with huge playrooms, but I doubt it. A B&M store’s bread and butter is the ‘casual’ gamer that buys games to play with friends, family and at clubs. A store is a poor man’s gaming club. I actually prefer a club, that way the objective of playing games isn’t clouded/corrupted by the commercial interests of a store. I don’t want a spork, I want a fork and a spoon 😉

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            It is clearly a culture issue.

            In the US, we have a culture of stores being the center point and clubs being a side thing.

            The nearest store to me has 2 eighteen by four foot tables, a six by four table and room enough to drop in two six by three card tables and still have enough room to move around and shop.

            The next closest store has 3 six by four tables and 8 six by three card tables, as well as room to expand if necessary.

            The next closest is much smaller but can still squeeze 6 card tables in the front room and four in the back.

            The next closest is in the mall and so is way smaller but they regularly run Magic tournaments with 40+ people (but there is zero room to do anything else).

            Then there’s the GW store. It is “European sized” in that it is essentially a broom closet. It has barely enough room to squeeze 2 six by 4 tables and then have zero room inside for anything else.

            Clubs are awesome but in my experience, they most often die hard deaths due to drama and infighting. Clubs also only meet on particular days, which sucks if I want to get a game in on a day when the club is not meeting (which is never a problem with stores, since they are open 7 days a week and usually have decent hours).

            All of the local stores near me survive because they offer a wide variety of games (save the GW store). They each have their own regular customers who help them thrive. I’d wager most people who buy at a store, play at the store. Rare is the time when I see people buying models and never seeing them play.

            None of store owners are getting rich but then again, none of them are really hurting either (even during the bad years of the recession).

      • SZMatheson

        What people really want is a club, and the store is the closest extant thing, so they buy a few things out of obligation.

      • Countdiscount

        You’re just describing retail workers in general, but you don’t know what you’re missing till it’s gone. If there really were no more retail B&M game stores, an aspect of community and the opportunity to see new games in person goes with them to a large extent (no, gaming clubs aren’t the same thing).

        • Cergorach

          Gaming clubs, gaming cons, the Internet, etc. have been filling that particular hole when the stores haven’t been available. To many ‘fun’ gaming stores have been started by fans with no sense for business, those go belly up eventually.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            And those would be unsuccessful stores. Just because some people go out of business does not mean all stores are bad or useless.

  • Drew

    For people who don’t have an FLGS in their area, this is going to make their experience less positive, for sure.

    On the other hand, it might somewhat alleviate the “freeloader” problem we see at so many FLGS’s where the same group comes into the shop and plays on the tables all the time while never buying a thing and chatting about how they got all their stuff at cut-rate prices on the internet (which is just low, in my opinion- I feel if you’re going to use the space, you have an obligation to support the store).

    • Matthew Wilkinson

      What about people whom buy second hand? Should they be excluded from an lgs? I do understand the part about talking at a store about how you got it cheaper somewhere else. Its rude. I dont buy ALL my products at my local stores. But the three I get an occasional game at I will buy a few things from to support them. The sad part is we are all on a budget and that factors into purchases. On the other hand when the game stores erode its back to garage hammer.

      • Morgrim

        In my area the LGS is facilitator of the local second hand market. They buy some items to sell in the store itself, and also act as ‘go between’ between buyer and seller for a small fee.

        • Matthew Wilkinson

          I think one of the local stores is going to do that. Which would be better than ebay. One of the the oldest games stores in the valley did that and it was great.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      Freeloaders are ok because they help put bodies in the store, which means paying customers will have opponents to play against, which means they will return often, which means they will buy more things.

      This only becomes a problem when most people are freeloaders.

  • Mateldar

    It would be OK, if only I could have a local store at least not at 12Hrs of home.. By plane,,,,

  • scadugenga

    Bad move, FFG–we’ve seen what happened with GW when they pulled those shenanigans.

    • Yes, they grew bigger than all the other companies in the market. Don’t do it, FFG! Stay small and perfectly-formed!

      • Dave

        No, they were already the biggest. Now they are more expensive with a shrinking customer base. They generate internet rage as never before. That rage has blossomed into players looking elsewhere, which resulted in the accelerated growth of a new breed of competition. Hell,at this stage there’s an actual debate as to whether they’re a games or model company.

  • Note that FFG left themselves some wiggle-room for policy exceptions with this caveat:

    “Online sales and mail order will be prohibited with exceptions granted for online retailers that “contribute either significant scale, unique service, or other exceptional differentiation”

    I read that as “Amazon.com is OK” I assume Amazon itself can move a stunning amount of FFG product and even an outfit like FFG is a small fish compared to them – and would not want to alienate them.

    Fundamentally, this is another 11th hour attempt to protect B&M retailers from online competition – a struggle the entire retail industry is grappling with – and losing. Amazon.com has 224,000 employees and $89 BILLION annual revenue – that ship has sailed.

    • Cergorach

      Didn’t the Amazon employees in Germany go on strike this week due to being considered logistics personnel instead of retail personnel? They were willing to strike the whole week before Christmas.

      • euansmith

        Wow! I’d not heard that. What a great tactical move.

    • Dave

      This isn’t about B&M. Regardless of how they spin it or whether you agree with the move or not. This is about controlling the market.

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        100% true.

        It is all about eliminating small competition and localizing sales onto their own website. Why share profits with small time internet retailers when you can harvest all the profits?

        Big stores will be excluded, like Amazon, as well as the webstores for big box stores that sell their products (like Target).

        This move is 100% aimed at killing smaller shops online, many of whom offer steep discounts for FFG’s products.

  • Terminus

    So basically buy up what you want now before it goes all GW?

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      Yup. Get your discounts now.