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I need some help with the business plan.

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hoduken
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Does anyone know of any good sources that give information about the boardgame/game/comic industry? I need some solid data to predict sales. I have been looking all over the net and will continue to do so but i thought i would bring it up here as you have all been a tramendous help so far.

I am looking for sales data of any sorts related to boardgames or comics over the last ten years.

InvisibleJon
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Comic And Games Retailer

hoduken wrote:
I am looking for sales data of any sorts related to boardgames or comics over the last ten years.
Comic And Games Retailer: http://www.comicsretailer.com/
They have exactly the information you want. How to get the info from them is unknown to me, though. Note that their info is compiled from voluntary surveys and may not be perfect. It is, however, useful nonetheless.

hoduken
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interesting.... ill look into

interesting.... ill look into that site some more but idk where to find it either. Its odd how they do survays but dont give back the results.

Dralius
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GAMA

Try http://www.gama.org/

They may have sales figures for the industry. Even if they don't have specific sales data there are many other things they can do to help you get your business started.

melx
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Maybe those links
gameprinter
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GAMA - not so much

GAMA isn't particularly organized. It's run by people who's day job is to run their small press game companies. In some cases, that's in addition to a standard "day job". I don't mean to disparage them, just that I don't think they have any actual sales numbers.

In fact, the hobby market in general is so fragmented that I'd bet that the only REAL solid sales figures are at the distributor level. Having worked at that level in the 90's and having talked to people recently, I think even then, I'd think twice about trusting them for information. Back in the 90's, people were agog that the distributor I worked for (Hobby Game Distributors) could do restock on comic books - as if it were rocket science to track your sales numbers on multiple titles for the last 18 months and order based on that data plus pre-sales. I've heard it's still pretty bad at some companies.

guildofblades
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>>In fact, the hobby market

>>In fact, the hobby market in general is so fragmented that I'd bet that the only REAL solid sales figures are at the distributor level. Having worked at that level in the 90's and having talked to people recently, I think even then, I'd think twice about trusting them for information.<<

The information you are looking for simply doesn't exist in a compiled form. Game and Comics Retailer data comes from maybe 30-50 retailers only, they represent a handful of the more adept retailers and most often the numbers are only for the handful of "leading" market sellers and even at that, the numbers are often just done by memory rather than concrete archived sales data. But even if you assume they are correct and can accurately apply a multiplier of those units sold by a correcte estimate of the number of stores out there, you still have the major disconnect that these are "best sellers" by category and that no new venture is going to be able to attain those numbers. They'll lack both the market penetration and distribution vehicles to get them that market penetration at first.

GAMA has no meaningful data whatsoever. Tp the best of my knowledge, no real attempt has been made to get it.

Wizards of the Coast likely has the markets best and most accurately kept data, but they aren't sharing. And they'll have the same gaping whole in market data that the leading distributors will have (I'll explain below).

The major distributors have some of the best data in the industry, but even then, they represent just a slice of the pie with respect to overall picture. For one, they have no market direct data. So int he case of Games Workshop, who sells the bulk of its product through its own retail stores or direct to indepedent hobby stores, the sales volumes that distributors have on GW is too insignificant to draw any clear picture about GW (but I'll grant, as a public company, you can look through their filings to get some fairly good conclusions of your own). The same is true of WOTC, who sells products through numerous distribution channels, some which serve the book chain market, some the mass market and some the hobby markets. Any distributor is starting off with just a single piece of the larger puzzle and if within the hobby market, WOTC sells a fairly significant volume direct to stores also, further reducing the accuracy of any data that a distributor might have. Distributors likely have a more clear picture of some of the "mid tier" game publisher operations who are large enough to be important to the distributor but small enough to have little to no broader market distribution. And then there are the vast number of small press/independent publishers who the distributors don't even sell, which they would have no clue about.

So, say even Alliance, who generally floats around 30-40% of the market share for distribution based sales in the US might only have data that represents 5-10% or less of the game volume being sold by hobby game publishers in the US when you factor in ALL the sales by the publishers selling to the mass market, through their own stores and the little guys mostly selling direct.

At the end of the day, even if you could get an accurate picture of the overall market volume, that data wouldn't do a new entrant into the market much good unless that new entrant happened to enter the market backed by several million in start up capital. Because without it, you'll largely begin without any meaningful distribution, no established brand name or brand recognition among retailers and consumers and none of the political connections to get any of that quickly. So any small start up should concentrate on joinning the forums and associations for small publishers and networking with those existing small publishers to draw upon their marketing experience and sales figures. Those are numbers which might match the reality in which a new start up will operate under and from which an initial business plan can be drafted.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.guildofblades.com/retailgroup.php
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com

Katherine
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Well said ryan. I feel that a

Well said ryan.

I feel that a strategy report, to identify potential market niches, is of greater value to the small publisher in the first instance.

Keep it as a hobby and worry about the business plan once you have an established business.

The Game Crafter
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Distributors

One of the more interesting conversations I've ever had in my life was at GTS in Las Vegas last year. I walked over to a distributor, and asked them what they wanted to see in a game in order to pick it up for distribution. The rep I talked to said "I wish more game publishers would ask me that question." He then walked me around the show floor, pointing to this publisher and that publisher, telling me about their successes and failures. How many games each of them would sell this year and for all time. It was an amazing look inside the game industry. I wish I had a camera to record everything he said.

guildofblades
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Distributors themselves often

Distributors themselves often are fairly clueless about some of the things that will sell. They are fairly good at predicting what high end games will be picked up by a decent percentage of retail stores based on manufacturer pre launch marketing efforts, but the prediction on sell through and end sales ends there.

Only 1 distributor picked up Magic when it was first released.

The largest game distributor initially passed on stocking Mage Knight when it was first released.

Only a handful of distributors initially delt with Fantasy Flight Games when they first released the first edition of Twilight Imperium.

My own story with distributors predicting sales, we used to have a small $5 fantasy miniatures game. It was a B&W photo copied book, though used a marbalized card stock cover so had a hint of color to it. In that format, the thing sold great. Life time sales just shy of 3,500 units sold over 3 years. All the while most of our distributors were telling us it won't sell and retailers won't stock it because it was too cheap and not a nice looking color production.

So we eventually upgraded it. Expanded the content out to about 80 digest pages, got nice color artwork, produced it as a perfect bound book and retailed it for $9.95. It sold less than a quarter as many units in that form. Distributors told us it wasn't a nice enough production yet and was still too cheap for most retailers. They didn't want to sell that when there were expensive boxed miniature games to sell.

So we expanded it and upgraded the game again. This time moving it into a 2 players boxed set game that retailed for $29.95. Sold less than half as many of that as the perfect bound version. Eventually cancelled the line and took it out of print.

Years later, we took the old game, cleaned it up and simplified out some of the later additions we had made, then released a 3rd edition in PDF form only. Priced at $3.99, but the way pricing works for PDFs, that is a lot more profitable per item sold than the original $5.00 version.

So the short of it is, distributors only know what is most likely to attrack a retailers attention. Retailers, singularly and collectively are far from perfect also when chosing what will sell to the public. Far too many of them simply order mainstream games by big publishers and rely on manufacturer hype to sell them. Hence why as the best selling fad games have faded (ala, Yu-gio, Magic, etc) in sales the last few years, game stores have gone out of business in droves. Feedback from retailers and distributors is important and can garner a start up manufacturer a mountain of useful information, but don't take everything said as the gospel.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.gobretail.com
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com

The Game Crafter
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True but...

That's true of anything though. Don't take any one source of information as gospel, including the Gospel. It doesn't matter if you're talking board games or wooden boards. But in the same vein, don't immediately discount a source of information because of a bad experience. I simply said it was one of the most interesting conversations I've ever had.

The guy knew more gossip, trends, etc, than anybody I've ever met in the game industry. Perhaps it's because I've never really chatted with distributors candidly before, I'm usually talking with other publishers, GAMA, and the folks that run various conventions.

guildofblades
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Mike Web. From Alliance Games

Mike Web. From Alliance Games Distributors. Is my guess who you spoke with.

If so, yeah, pretty interwoven into the fabric of the games industry. Known by just about everyone in the game industry. Loved by some.

There are, perhaps, a couple reps at ACD that might also fit the bill, but Web is the most widely connected of the bunch.

Ryan
GOB Retail

apeloverage
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Joined: 08/01/2008
if your reason for wanting sales figures

is to work out how many copies to print, I'd advise you to print as few as possible. If you have too few you can always print more. And you'll probably think of changes you want to make once they're printed.

poshaali123 (not verified)
Awesome post! Interesting

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poshaali123 (not verified)
Sensational info. I look

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rpghost
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Well I assume those last two

Well I assume those last two posts are total spam as they resurrect an older post... someone delete them eh?

The simple answer to the how many to print is: 1500... Why? Cause no printer wants to print less as it's too costly to deal with it. Cause new publishers have little chance of selling more then that of their first game unless it's a hit. Cause distribution and consolidators order light these days and you have to store the crap somewhere. Etc...

Face it, to have to REPRINT is a good thing, not a bad thing.

James
http://www.MinionGames.com

dobnarr
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I've been working on how big

I've been working on how big a printing run to do for a game I'm looking at publishing. For me, 1500 is too few to make it work, but it depends on the marketing model you want to use, as Ryan indicated above. It turns out it's pretty difficult to make it a profitable venture at a commercial scale. I have some figures and charts at my blog here:

http://planktongames.blogspot.com/2010/03/indie-game-publishing-costs-or...

nick1 (not verified)
I was also searching for

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Mariam Hassan
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