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EDITORIAL: Are You Excited Gamers Yet?

3 Minute Read
Sep 26 2011

Today I would like to tell the tale of two different philosophies at keeping wargamers coming back for more.

“Daddy, I WANT IT NOW!!!” – Veruca Salt
As we all know, there has been a shift of late in Games Workshop’s marketing policy.  It was first discussed in this cute little post here (remember that one?).  In short what we have is a decision to completely do away with advance notice of upcoming products to instead focus on the “here and now” instead of the “bright shiny future”.  We have heard from various folks that the corporate goal is to focus the customer base on the miniatures they can buy RIGHT NOW, with no talk of upcoming products. We just saw the results of this policy at this year’s Gamesday-UK.

Now there are definitely advantages to this.  Firstly it keeps your sales staff heads down on their number one job – convincing you to buy the products that you physically can – the ones right in front of you.  Secondly the theory goes that this marketing approach maximizes monthly spending for customers, as there is no disincentive from immediate purchases.  You aren’t going to delay a purchase today because you are have no idea that that new army you’ve been dreaming about  is coming out in two months.  So the idea is that you show up at the FLGS and buy up the most you can each month, as a happy consumer.  We have have been told that this policy’s stated goal is to “create excitement”, and thus produce happy, ever-purchasing customers.

“There’s A Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow”
Now lets contrast this with what the other big outfits are doing, the traditional teaser marketing approach.  We will use Privateer Press as our example.  With their larger key books and product releases such as the Wrath expansion and the series of large Battle Engines, we saw a steady drip, drip,drip of information happening in general 3-6 months out from product release dates.  First there were vaguely worded rumors, then concept art, then 3D CAD designs, then painted models, rules teasers, and the final product releases.  This is the traditional marketing model used by most major industries from Automotive to Hollywood, to Video Games. 

The overall goal here is to build up buzz, hype, and  a groundswell of positive word of mouth.  The goal is to not merely increase sales to a crescendo at the time of the final product release, but to keep customers thinking about your products and brands, drooling in anticipation – maximizing their mind share and loyalty.  If some customers want the future products so much that they put off purchases today, then in any competitive market, those dollars being put in the piggy bank are also not being put into your competitor’s pockets either.  What you might lose in sales being put off are being traded for happy long-term customers.

Impulse Shopping vs Researched Purchasing
And here we sit at the crossroads my fellow gamers. Two widely divergent choices are being fed to us, almost like we are mice in a scientist’s maze.  Do we really care about mind share, and brand loyalty?  Do we really want to be obsessive and lather ourselves in the rumor and teaser mill, or in the end, do we just want to walk into a game store each month look around and buy the best thing they have on their shelves to sate our Pavlovian desires for a gaming fix?  One of the major companies in the space is going to find out in the next couple of quarters what the correct decision is.

I honestly don’t have the answer, but collectively, our wallets do. How do you want your cheese delivered my fellow mice?

  • Wargames Gallery 9-25-11