How Long Before the Digital Dam Breaks?
  • How Long Before the Digital Dam Breaks?


    The recent crash in pricing for digital comics provides a data point for the future of electronic versions of tabletop books, 3D-printed miniatures, and terrain. How long can retailers keep their price points for physical product before the dam breaks?


    The Line is 99 Cents

    Many businesses are being upended by the move to online sales, as products transform from physical to a digital format. Chris Anderson at Wired explains why Web content continues to get cheaper and cheaper:

    It's now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned. Storage now joins bandwidth (YouTube: free) and processing power (Google: free) in the race to the bottom. Basic economics tells us that in a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. There's never been a more competitive market than the Internet, and every day the marginal cost of digital information comes closer to nothing.

    This is the challenge facing the comics industry today. Comics in digital format is not new, but as the market has matured some patterns are emerging. For one, the massive back catalog of comics are plentiful, such that anyone seeking to jump into comics no longer has to worry about the significant barrier to entry of hunting for a comic. One side effect of the availability of these digital comics -- and the desire to bring fans up to speed quickly on hot properties as they are launched in films and TV series -- was deep discounting. According to ICv2 columnist Rob Salkowitz, this has had the unintended effect of normalizing consumers' perceptions of what a comic should cost:

    Itís also fulfilled the prophesy that programs like Humble Bundle, which led the way in dumping piles of digital issues on the market for ridiculous prices, would eventually erode the perception of value for non-current material, permanently lowering the ceiling for profit margins on publisher back catalog in exchange for the sugar-high of short term revenue.

    Role-playing games have also been sold in Humble Bundles. Salkowitz points out that there are benefits to this kind of deep discounts:

    Itís a huge plus for consumers to be able to catch up on storylines or track down old favorites in digital format without breaking the bank. Itís good for publishers, who can use promotional sales to generate attention for characters poised for a big moment on screen or in a featured upcoming series. Itís good for creators, who can expose new (and old) fans to their previous work without driving them to the back issue bins.

    The concern is that consumers will not buy new products at full price. After all, today's comic book is tomorrow's deep-discounted back issue. Will fans stop buying?

    Digital and Tabletop RPGs

    PDFs of tabletop role-playing game rules and adventures share a lot of similarities with comics. They have a finite lifespan but are still accessible later, and as future editions of RPGs are released, the back catalog loses its appeal at brick-and-mortar outlets, often ending up deep discounted to clear shelf space. The digital space is where a back catalog can thrive.

    It's also where a lot of innovation takes place, unrestrained by production and distribution barriers that would normally prohibit a creator from launching a product. OneBookShelf's (OBS) consolidation of digital gaming products (DriveThruRPG absorbed its rival, RPGNow, back in 2006 and now manages DM's Guild) draws a parallel with the dominance Amazon's Comixology in digital comics. So far, DriveThruRPG has resisted deep discounting on the scale of Comixology, perhaps because the price point is set by the creator, not by OBS.

    OBS' management of its channels provides a path forward for companies like Wizards of the Coast, who shifted from removing all of its PDFs online in 2009 to partnering with OBS to create a DM's Guild in which creators can leverage WOTC's own content to create new products. This shift was likely influenced by the decline of bookstores, a major channel for RPG distributors.

    By all accounts, the digital market for comics (and books in general) has stabilized. Reference books in particular lend themselves to digital distribution. Given that tabletop gaming books are often purchased for reference during play, they can be even more useful in electronic format when indexed and searchable. The same can't be said for 3D models however.

    Digital and Miniatures

    Miniatures have slowly fallen out of favor among companies like WOTC, who once offered pre-painted randomized miniatures, only to abandon the product after the Great Recession in 2008 made the price of production and shipping unfeasible. WizKids picked up the slack, acting as a consolidator for multiple companies' plastic miniature lines, WOTC included.

    WOTC has paid careful attention to 3D products on sites like Shapeways, a platform WOTC's parent company Hasbro has an existing agreement with. With a few exceptions, most D&D models are free to download and print. Games Workshop, on the other hand, went after a creator on Thingiverse for creating a Warhammer-style figure back in 2012.

    Cool Mini or Not (CMON) has adopted a Minimum Advertised Pricing Policy (MAPP) for advertising of its games:

    CMON believes that by unilaterally imposing restrictions on the minimum prices advertised by our distribution and retail partners, we can reduce counterfeiting and enhance our customerís perceived value of the CMON brand, and that serves the best interests of our consumers, retailers, and distributors.

    CMON's MAPP focuses primarily on advertising vs. the actual price of the product (in CMON's case, products cannot be advertised lower than 15% of the standard retail price). A MAPP's attempt to "reduce counterfeiting" may not be comprehensive enough. Six years later, any concerns about keeping counterfeit and copycat products off digital shelves are quickly dispelled by browsing Thingiverse.

    There are miniatures for just about every game imaginable on Thingiverse and Shapeways. Warhammer-compatible models are ubiquitous on Thingiverse (over 1,700 models). Don't like the Robotech miniatures from Palladium's recent Kickstarter? You can print them yourself. Missing a ship for X-Wing? Print it yourself. Fans who have a 3D printer can even make their own terrain with OpenLock, a rival to DwavenForge's terrain.

    The hobby market will likely shift its strategy from providing printed products to providing high-quality digital files (indexed PDFs, high-quality 3D models) that can't be purchased for free online. One thing's for sure: if Thingiverse's catalog is any indication, the price of digital products in the 3D space have already been socialized well below digital comics' $0.99.

    Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, communicator, and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://amazon.com. You can follow him at Patreon.
    Comments 53 Comments
    1. Arashi Ravenblade -
      I know I save money wherever I can. I only buy rpgs at discount on Amazon, and the occasional POD product from Drivethrurpg, and I stopped getting monthly comics to instead wait for months to get the trade at a discount on amazon. Where I was spending 200 dollars a month on comics It's down to 80 because of this tactic. I don't think I'd do digital comics unless the price was super cheap and I could find a quality product to read them on at a decent price. The price for a decent tablet is too expensive for my budget right now, and there are too many things I need to buy for an upcoming move and cool stuff I "need" like an Xbox one so my brother an I can play halo together.
    1. Kobold Boots -
      The shift from retail of product to retail of services has already started to occur. All that you're going to see happen is the floor space for product in stores will shift to floor space for tables and a place to play with premium services like food.

      While this will change the dynamic of most gaming stores and increase the barrier to entry in terms of store renovation and rent costs, it will result in folks having a nicer place to play than most stores are supporting now. Only reasons I game at stores is to recruit simply because I'm not fond of sitting in chairs that aren't comfortable surrounded by a bunch of other folks that are uncomfortable.

      Can't remember the last time I bought something in a store, except for groceries. Unfortunately that's true of gaming stores as well. With online reviews and such widely available and at a reasonably high quality for anything I want to look at, there's no reason to walk in and touch it before buying anymore.
    1. pming's Avatar
      pming -
      Hiya!

      I'm going to be deliberately vague here so as to not get "in trouble". I don't think that dead-tree comics (and comics in general) lowered sales is primarily because of "digital availability". If you follow comics at all, and watch a few of the better comic-book reviewer channels on YouTube...it is painfully obvious that the sudden decline of, at least Marvel, comics has been because of...hmmm...how to put this... "a certain style of writing and story-telling" that has been in full swing since about 2015/2016. Some love this new take on writing comic's, but the old fans...the "collectors", so to speak... are, by and large, not happy. When you start to get pro-comic writers/artists coming out and saying "This is whats wrong", people should listen to them. But the top-dogs at Marvel and DC, for whatever reason, have decided to not only stay the course on their "new reboots", but some actually attack FANS for saying "We don't want this...we want more of what we had"? Well, you know something is not only wrong, but SERIOUSLY wrong with the comic book industry right now.

      If I'm too vague, here's two decent Youtube guys I watch to get my comic info:

      (Actually, first... TRIGGER WARNING! ...for those who, uh, need such things I guess...)

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrl...j8GIOeT5jrQsJA

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWL...ibUALCZoaDg2jw

      ^_^

      Paul L. Ming
    1. Ath-kethin's Avatar
      Ath-kethin -
      I absolutely 100% empathize with those who buy stuff at bargain prices and eschew the higer prices at physical stores. I did the same for a long time, and I still do in some cases.

      But I buy game and comic stuff from my local comic and game shops, and I do it to support those shops. The comic/game store closest to me is closing at the end of this month after 15 years, and I think that sucks - I have a 4 year old kid who loves going there to see the people and look at the comics and miniatures and RPG books and the board games. I want shops like that to be around when he's old enough to actually play in their events. There is no experience like that in the world.

      So I buy him his monthly comic book we have the store hold for him, and while I buy the collections instead of monthly issues for my books (they store better and look better on a shelf), I buy them from the local store. My experiences as a gamer and as a comic fan have been fantastic, and I want him to have those same kids of opportunities. That doesn't happen at the Amazon Slave Pen, it happens at the local shops.

      I don't like spending $30 on a book I could buy online for $18 any more than anybody else does. But I like the idea of my kid growing up in a world with no comic or game shops a whole lot less.
    1. EthanSental's Avatar
      EthanSental -
      Excellent article in that I'm a life long comic collector as well. I've debated comics in a digital format but just can't get used to reading comics on sites like comixology with guided view technology compared to paper version. New comics (every Wednesday) have the same digital copy price as the physical copy. Not sure what the time frame is before digital price drops but I'd guess it's to make sure comic shop owners aren't competitively priced out for new comics. I can't pay 2.99 or 3.99 for a digital comic on Wednesday when I know I can buy the physical copy for the same price and have something in hand (or bag/board/box) that has a slight uptick in value 30 years from now.

      As as far as what PM mentioned, Disney/marvel pushed a certain diversity benchmark of having half of their comics be gender/ethnicity/sexual preference to be more inclusive but it didn't go over so well and sales tanked on most of the affected titles. Maybe it was bad writing, maybe the buyers of said titles preferred their old heroes (like a green hulk/ banner, and not an Asian teenager hulk/cho or she-hulk) as the protagonist or a combo of a bunch of things as poor writing or perceived forced change. Either way, marvel realized it and has since started going back to the characters the majority of the regular fan base wants as the changed characters didn't bring in enough new readers to replace the die hardship and sales suffered.
    1. pming's Avatar
      pming -
      Hiya!

      I'm going to be deliberately vague here so as to not get "in trouble". I don't think that dead-tree comics (and comics in general) lowered sales is primarily because of "digital availability". If you follow comics at all, and watch a few of the better comic-book reviewer channels on YouTube...it is painfully obvious that the sudden decline of, at least Marvel, comics has been because of...hmmm...how to put this... "a certain style of writing and story-telling" that has been in full swing since about 2015/2016. Some love this new take on writing comic's, but the old fans...the "collectors", so to speak... are, by and large, not happy. When you start to get pro-comic writers/artists coming out and saying "This is whats wrong", people should listen to them. But the top-dogs at Marvel and DC, for whatever reason, have decided to not only stay the course on their "new reboots", but some actually attack FANS for saying "We don't want this...we want more of what we had"? Well, you know something is not only wrong, but SERIOUSLY wrong with the comic book industry right now.

      If I'm too vague, here's two decent Youtube guys I watch to get my comic info:

      (Actually, first... TRIGGER WARNING! ...for those who, uh, need such things I guess...)

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrl...j8GIOeT5jrQsJA

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWL...ibUALCZoaDg2jw

      ^_^

      Paul L. Ming
    1. Kobold Boots -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ath-kethin View Post
      I absolutely 100% empathize with those who buy stuff at bargain prices and eschew the higer prices at physical stores. I did the same for a long time, and I still do in some cases.

      But I buy game and comic stuff from my local comic and game shops, and I do it to support those shops. The comic/game store closest to me is closing at the end of this month after 15 years, and I think that sucks - I have a 4 year old kid who loves going there to see the people and look at the comics and miniatures and RPG books and the board games. I want shops like that to be around when he's old enough to actually play in their events. There is no experience like that in the world.

      So I buy him his monthly comic book we have the store hold for him, and while I buy the collections instead of monthly issues for my books (they store better and look better on a shelf), I buy them from the local store. My experiences as a gamer and as a comic fan have been fantastic, and I want him to have those same kids of opportunities. That doesn't happen at the Amazon Slave Pen, it happens at the local shops.

      I don't like spending $30 on a book I could buy online for $18 any more than anybody else does. But I like the idea of my kid grouping up in a world with no comic or game shops a whole lot less.
      The sad thing is that economic pressure will eventually win and stores that don't diversify will close regardless of the number of folks that are interested in and capable of doing this.
      I'd also love to find a store anywhere that I'd be happy allowing my son to frequent regularly. While gaming has become a social norm and mainstream, good stores with good folks are rare in my experience.

      Finding the unicorn may change my opinion to me more like yours for that specific case.
    1. Over the Hill Gamer's Avatar
      Over the Hill Gamer -
      As a GM, I increasingly find that PDFs have more utility than printed books. They are easier to search and access. Creating adventures is made easier when you can just cut and paste monster stats. I prefer to have both printed books and PDFs. I enjoy books because they are real, have greater long-term value, and are more fun to read.

      But the cost differential is big. I sponsored the Zweihander Kickstarter a couple of years ago and got the book and PDF for $50. The last I looked the PDF was going for $5.

      I don't see how a company can survive selling their work product for so little. Not if they are going to maintain high production values. Unfortunately, that is what you see now, a proliferation of companies with pretty low production values selling all kinds of total crap. At the same time, tactics by other companies to not produce PDFs aren't exactly giving the customer what they want.

      I trust in the market to eventually sort this out. The solution is still developing. DnDBeyond provides digital content but in a format that is not easily shared across the internet by freeloaders. That protects WoTC and allows them to make a decent profit while providing cool content at a reasonable cost.

      Based on trends facing many mom and pop retailers, the outlook for brick and mortar game stores is bleak.

      For me, DnDBeyond is a great product and gives me the best of all worlds -- functionality, digital content that is searchable, and the ability to create adventures on the fly. My only criticism is that it is limited to 5e DnD.

      Perhaps a digital company could offer a platform similar to DnDBeyond but that is customizable to a broad range of RPGs.
    1. Jer's Avatar
      Jer -
      The comparison to comics isn't quite so apt. A big part of the problem in the comics market is the aging demographic of comics readers - the structure of the retail market has tuned itself to old guys who have been reading books for decades and it's actually hard for younger people to get the material. And when they do it's just not cost effective - $5 for one 22 page installment of a story that will come out monthly for 6 months is a ridiculous ask for kids these days which is why graphic novels sell so much better to that audience and why Scholastic's graphic novel program is doing better than most of the established comics companies at this point as far as sales go - there's nothing like the audience at school book fairs to sell those Amulet and Bone graphic novels. (This is also part of DC and Marvel's recent problems, as their retail partners had told them to "reach out to new audiences" but neither the retail partners nor DC/Marvel wanted to put any money into actually reaching out to new audiences, so all they did was drive away old guys who weren't interested in material that wasn't really designed to appeal to them. I won't be surprised at all to see the traditional comic book store basically dead within the next two decades if someone can't crack the code to get new readers into the door).

      Gaming was in this trap, but Actual Play casts seems to have brought in a much younger demographic. Games are an easier "ask" than comics - you'll play a board game or a card game many times where you might read a comic once - and so even though they're more expensive per unit, as a measure of "dollars per unit of entertainment" games have a high perceived value. And games are widely available on Amazon in non-digital formats, so people will buy them - especially if they have components (so board and card games are going to be fine).

      As for RPGs - I don't think there will be problems until Amazon starts selling Kindle editions of games. Right now you have to go to a relatively niche website like drivethrurpg to find digital RPGs. When Amazon starts to sell Kindle editions, that's when I suspect we'll start seeing the "death spiral" hit the RPG market when it comes to the move to digital.
    1. tomBitonti -
      This paragraph is highly disputable:

      It's now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned. Storage now joins bandwidth (YouTube: free) and processing power (Google: free) in the race to the bottom. Basic economics tells us that in a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. There's never been a more competitive market than the Internet, and every day the marginal cost of digital information comes closer to nothing.
      Neither YouTube nor Google are "free": Both collect valuable user data, with no direct return to the user. (The user is losing the opportunity value of information about their use preferences.)

      That price should fall to the marginal cost is not the tendency of pricing schemes: With accurate data, sellers are tending to individual pricing strategies, in which the price is set per user, to a value that is set to the highest that the particular user will bear. This is made more effective because of collected user data (see my preceding paragraph).

      Thx!
      TomB
    1. Cergorach's Avatar
      Cergorach -
      What people also seem to forget is that us consumers don't have infinite space, I currently have a 30 year collection of books, board/card games and miniatures in a room that has more storage space then a lot of people's entire apartments... Especially books and comics, unless it's something truly special, I often just get the pdf. And even then, I'm more picky on what to get because there's so much available these days that I don't have time for everything.

      As for 3D printers... That's so much misinformation!

      Making a 3D print is not like making a printout of a page or even a book. Most affordable printers also require skill to use that people who haven't used one before don't really understand. This is not a Star Trek matter assembler!

      A 3D print requires:
      - A 3D printer
      - A 3D file
      - Material
      - Power
      - TIME

      A 3D printer rangers from the $100 to the $1,000,000+, then there are different types of printing that have pros/cons and purposes.

      The 'cheapest' are FDM printers, those have a printhead and deposit material like some sort of inkjet printer. There's a limit on how fine the details are and you're often stuck with visible layer lines. These might be appropriate for some types of terrain, but not human sized 25-35mm models. Still, you get what you pay for, a $100 model often won't perform as well as a highend $3500 model. Personally I'm buying am Original Prusa I3 MK3, that's a $749 kit (plus shipping), a kit that requires assembly. Assembled that printer costs $999. This is one of the most silent and advanced models of it's class (hobbyist), you can buy professional models at $30.000 that are far more user friendly, but wholly outside of the hobbyist purview.

      If you want to print 25-35mm human sized models, you'll be looking at SLA printers (like the Form 2, a $3500 printer) that use lasers. Or DLP printer (like the AnyCubic Photon, a $499 printer that uses a projector. SLA printers give sharper details, DLP a little softer details. Both use UV cured resins (which are very tocix btw.) and can be quite messy in operation. Also, the resin isn't cheap. What people forget is that a 32mm model might easily take 5 hours to print on the AnyCubic Photon and no guarantee that the print wil lbe perfect after that. During those 5 hours you need to ventilate the room quite well due to the uv resin fumes. After that it's cleaning the print with alcohol and curing it with UV light. And even then it's still not as strong and durable as PVC or HIPS plastic.

      Also, most of the models need 'supports' that make sure the different parts don't falloff or get warped during printing, those require cleanup. In some cases more then traditional assembly of models and moldline cleanup.

      Then we have the quality of models, 99,99% on thingyverse is junk compared to the details of a high quality resin model. I've seen some high quality 3D model files available, those are either samples, illegally distributed files or paid for model files. Those often start at the $5+ range if it's of common use, but expect $30+ for 'unique' character models. Making them yourself doesn't ignore the legality issue and doesn't guarantee that it's of quality and takes a lot of time.

      MAYBE it could be cheaper if you compare it to a $50+ (FW) resin model, but certainly not to a $30, which you can get online (legally) for $22.50. Not in costs and material. And certainly not when you compare it to a 72 model box of Zombicide for $99 (or $80 online)! But if you want similar quality to a FW model you'll need a $3500+ printer...

      Companies like GW do need to keep in mind that there's a limit on the price they can ask for a single miniature due to 3D printing, but certainly their plastic range isn't yet in danger of that. No, a 3D printer is great for models that don't exist yet in an available

      Hell, if you want cheaper miniatures and don't have any issues with legality (due to the 3d model files and protected IP), why buy an expensive printer at all? You can buy recasts (illegal!) from multiple sources, or is you don't value your time, you can always make copies yourself (illegal!)...

      And while you can 3D files cheap, you get what you pay for. $2.50/model, I don't get really excited for:
      http://www.illgottengames.net/produc...ory=Miniatures

      You want better quality, you pay for it! $19.99 for a large beholder like model:
      http://www.rocketpiggames.com/store#...=0&sort=normal

      There are of course far better deals:
      https://www.cgtrader.com/crosslances

      But it's what your looking for and what the other part is asking for their work, just like in RL...
    1. Cergorach's Avatar
      Cergorach -
      Quote Originally Posted by Over the Hill Gamer View Post
      The last I looked the PDF was going for $5.

      I don't see how a company can survive selling their work product for so little. Not if they are going to maintain high production values. Unfortunately, that is what you see now, a proliferation of companies with pretty low production values selling all kinds of total crap. At the same time, tactics by other companies to not produce PDFs aren't exactly giving the customer what they want.
      The Zweihander pdf goes for $9.99 on DTRPG. That's a fair price for a pdf. DTRPG charges 30% for it's services, so that's $7 for the publisher. What do you expect that normally a print publisher get's for it's book? They sell it for 45% (or less) of MSRP to a distributor, add to that cost of printing, storage, shipping, etc. Unless your a large player, your not getting that much for your work. Look at some of the older formula's in the forum's publishing section for what's expected.

      Sure, there's a lot of garbage (but one man's garbage is another one's treasure), but so was there during the D20 glut in printed form.

      Paizo's policy of asking only $9.99 for their core books in pdf is an awesome move, it's low enough that everyone is willing to pick it up at that price if they are even moderately interested in playing it. And while they might earn less per item sold, how many more pdfs will get sold then physical books?
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by tomBitonti View Post
      This paragraph is highly disputable:



      Neither YouTube nor Google are "free": Both collect valuable user data, with no direct return to the user. (The user is losing the opportunity value of information about their use preferences.)
      It doesnít say theyíre free. It says theyíre on the path to it.

      While it is a highly contentious and topical subject, an individualís user data has very little value to a non-criminal. Like a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a cent. Itís pretty close to free! This stuff only has real value when itís in enormous quantities.
    1. Mark Craddock's Avatar
      Mark Craddock -
      Quote Originally Posted by Arashi Ravenblade View Post
      I know I save money wherever I can. I only buy rpgs at discount on Amazon, and the occasional POD product from Drivethrurpg, and I stopped getting monthly comics to instead wait for months to get the trade at a discount on amazon. Where I was spending 200 dollars a month on comics It's down to 80 because of this tactic. I don't think I'd do digital comics unless the price was super cheap and I could find a quality product to read them on at a decent price. The price for a decent tablet is too expensive for my budget right now, and there are too many things I need to buy for an upcoming move and cool stuff I "need" like an Xbox one so my brother an I can play halo together.
      The more people who do this, the more impacts local game and comic stores.

      If the trend continues, what do you think Amazon will do when they have eliminated their copmetions? They will raise prices.

      At the same time, local game and comics stores have to adapt to, essentially, become community centers and even coordinators. Change or die.
    1. lowkey13's Avatar
      lowkey13 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      It doesnít say theyíre free. It says theyíre on the path to it.

      While it is a highly contentious and topical subject, an individualís user data has very little value to a non-criminal. Like a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a cent. Itís pretty close to free! This stuff only has real value when itís in enormous quantities.
      Wading into this contentious subject .... but no. Your user data is incredibly valuable for non-criminal (commercial) uses.

      People can value it differently, but one estimate is than an average (US) consumer could get $240/year monetizing their data.

      Our data is big business- that's why facebook, et al, are "free." They are selling our data. Which, hey, if you're cool with that, more power to you.

      But they are definitely getting the better of the bargain.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Cheap comics have impacted my purchasing. I tend to wait for Marvel to have sales on Amazon and snag e-TPBs for a buck or two apiece.
      Why read new comics when thereís so many classics I havenít read. Working through the Claremont X-men and New Mutants at the moment.

      This is impacting my gaming consumption, as cheap PDFs on DMsGuild are nice. And print-on-deman pretty much means I can get a cheap and like new copy of so many classic hard-to-find products.

      Quote Originally Posted by Cergorach View Post
      As for 3D printers... That's so much misinformation!

      Making a 3D print is not like making a printout of a page or even a book. Most affordable printers also require skill to use that people who haven't used one before don't really understand. This is not a Star Trek matter assembler!
      The catch is 3D are still relatively new. Under a decade for cheap commercial ones.
      Give it another decade, especially as the technology grows and buisness savvy people realize they can operate 3D printer marts and just rent out access to printers.

      Twenty-five years from now ands 3D printers will probably be as ubiquitous as laser and inkjet printers.
    1. Cergorach's Avatar
      Cergorach -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mark Craddock View Post
      If the trend continues, what do you think Amazon will do when they have eliminated their copmetions? They will raise prices.
      Then the competition in Europe goes to the US...

      Also with higher prices, there's room for competition on the bottom end of the market. The real power of outfits like Amazon isn't their seemingly bottomless wallet, it's their efficiency in the supply chain. Those automated silos full with goods that robot pickers can pull at 24/7/365 at less space and with more accuracy then any humans could. Your small specialist internet store can't compete with that.

      D&D is just another huge companies product (WotC => Hasbro). How many niche products are there on Amazon? I would rather finance the company directly with a good discount through KS for example. There are lots of options imho for the market to develop outside of Amazon.
    1. Cergorach's Avatar
      Cergorach -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jester David View Post

      The catch is 3D are still relatively new. Under a decade for cheap commercial ones.
      Give it another decade, especially as the technology grows and buisness savvy people realize they can operate 3D printer marts and just rent out access to printers.

      Twenty-five years from now ands 3D printers will probably be as ubiquitous as laser and inkjet printers.
      Around 24 years ago I bought a nice little cheap B/W laser printer from Texas Instruments, that thing was near indestructible! After years of fateful service the fuser was damaged and due to TI no longer producing printers, a replacement part was unfindable. At the time I went looking for a replacement printer of the same size, functionality, pricing, etc. Nothing! Even now, I'm hard pressed to find something in that price range (after inflation) and that form factor. In the last 25 years Laser print technology hasn't gotten any better and is essentially still the same.

      The only reason that 3D printing has changed so much is due to the expiration of patents in 2006 and Open Source projects running wild with it and a few pioneers in the field driving hobbyist prices down. Kickstarter and Alibaba also have a huge impact. But honestly, I know how the average joe is with 2D printers (morons), that's not really going to change with 3D printers. I think that 25 years you mentioned is more like "We'll surely have flying cars and rocket packs!" and less then reality. Sure quality will improve immensely, it'll certainly become easier to 3D print well, but the market is still driven by the OS community in the hobbyist field. Large companies won't touch that because it's based on old tech (patents elapsed) and will focus on cutting edge stuff that's very expensive. Heck Formlabs is making a SLS printer (Fuse 1) for Ä12,099+, that's HUGE! But that's still way out of the price range of most consumers. What I expect to make huge changes is societal changes. Things like workerspaces for everyone at walking distances where such products are financed by the community that can also use it, people that operate those things teaching others how to do it, etc. This is already happening on a small scale, but it's mostly done by nerds and if people do know about them, they have no idea how to use it because they lack the knowledge and imagination...

      Let's say you have four people, each with their own skills:
      - One can draw/design a miniature
      - One can 3D sculpt it
      - One who knows how that communal Form 2 works and can use it
      - One who can resin cast miniatures

      Normally that would be a small company, now it could be more of a communal exchange without all the overhead...

      [/dreaming]
      ;-)
    1. Tony Vargas -
      Quote Originally Posted by talien View Post
      Miniatures have slowly fallen out of favor among companies like WOTC, who once offered pre-painted randomized miniatures, only to abandon the product after the Great Recession in 2008 made the price of production and shipping unfeasible. WizKids picked up the slack, acting as a consolidator for multiple companies' plastic miniature lines, WOTC included.
      Hm. I hadn't heard it presented in that light before.
    1. God -
      Quote Originally Posted by pming View Post
      Hiya!

      I'm going to be deliberately vague here so as to not get "in trouble". I don't think that dead-tree comics (and comics in general) lowered sales is primarily because of "digital availability". If you follow comics at all, and watch a few of the better comic-book reviewer channels on YouTube...it is painfully obvious that the sudden decline of, at least Marvel, comics has been because of...hmmm...how to put this... "a certain style of writing and story-telling" that has been in full swing since about 2015/2016. Some love this new take on writing comic's, but the old fans...the "collectors", so to speak... are, by and large, not happy. When you start to get pro-comic writers/artists coming out and saying "This is whats wrong", people should listen to them. But the top-dogs at Marvel and DC, for whatever reason, have decided to not only stay the course on their "new reboots", but some actually attack FANS for saying "We don't want this...we want more of what we had"? Well, you know something is not only wrong, but SERIOUSLY wrong with the comic book industry right now.

      If I'm too vague, here's two decent Youtube guys I watch to get my comic info:

      (Actually, first... TRIGGER WARNING! ...for those who, uh, need such things I guess...)

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrl...j8GIOeT5jrQsJA

      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWL...ibUALCZoaDg2jw

      ^_^

      Paul L. Ming
      Dog whistle much?
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