New Tariffs On RPGs Printed In China
  • New Tariffs On RPGs Printed In China


    ICv2 is reporting on new tariffs on imports to the USA from China, which include various categories of items including toys, comics, and games... including tabletop RPGs. The tariffs are up to 25%. Many game companies print RPG books in China, so this will affect them.





    The New York Times reports on it in more depth.

    So, here's a simple breakdown of it as I understand it -- while tabletop games are not currently under any tariff, they will be affected by the 25% rate coming in a couple of months. There's a grace period of about three weeks for items in transit.

    The tariff doesn't necessarily mean the games will cost 25% more. It's based on the manufacturing and shipping costs, which are only a part of the cost of producing a product. The price increase to consumers, therefore, will likely be substantially lower than 25% (although it's completely up to the companies how they handle it - some might even just absorb it, while others will pass it on).

    It'll likely start showing in prices in games in Autumn or so.

    This, of course, only affects games printed in China and shipped to America. And lost of other things, apart from games!
    Comments 56 Comments
    1. stargazera5's Avatar
      stargazera5 -
      Quote Originally Posted by CM View Post
      This is going to affect Reaper's next Bones kickstarter too, I'm sure.
      In their first KS, they talked about setting up the equipment to manufacture bones minis themselves. Unfortunately this only came to pass in their base mass production KS. Hopefully this will cause them to rethink going to China and building up their own manufacturing capacity instead and make the minis in the US. (Which would also save them many of teh shipping/customs headaches they've dealt with in the past)
    1. Alzrius's Avatar
      Alzrius -
      Crystal Frasier, formerly of Paizo Publishing and currently part of Green Ronin, had some thoughts on this:

      Quote Originally Posted by Crystal Frasier View Post
      Trump’s new tariffs are going to tear a huge chunk out of the RPG profits, basically eliminating the cost advantage of printing in China. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started losing small & medium-sized companies b/c of them.

      Getting more info on the tariffs, which aren't hitting RPG books this round but will likely hit in July.

      It sounds like a $40 RPG book will have about a $2 tariff. Which doesn't SOUND bad, until you realize that RPGs are typically sold to retailers at 50% MSRP, so $2 represents 10% of the revenue, before figuring in production and printing costs.

      If a publisher DOESN'T raise their prices, then they're eating that $2. Over a 5,000 book print run, they're eating $10,000 for the sake of a moron's dick-waggling contest.

      Do you pass that cost on to retailers? FLGS are already struggling, and bigger stores have only just started carrying RPGs and won't hesitate to cut this weird new thing.

      Pass it on to the consumers? Maybe, but they're not magically making more money all of a sudden, either.
    1. billd91's Avatar
      billd91 -
      Can we be done "winning" now?
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ccs View Post
      Sorry, I just don't see that happening.
      It would likely run afoul of political interpretation, but I have seen non-political non-biases analysis, economic or otherwise, before.
    1. CM's Avatar
      CM -
      Quote Originally Posted by stargazera5 View Post
      In their first KS, they talked about setting up the equipment to manufacture bones minis themselves. Unfortunately this only came to pass in their base mass production KS. Hopefully this will cause them to rethink going to China and building up their own manufacturing capacity instead and make the minis in the US. (Which would also save them many of teh shipping/customs headaches they've dealt with in the past)
      I heard that they were buying the molds and bringing them to the US after fulfilling the initial kickstarter orders. Not sure if that's true. Will ask about it on the Reaper Live chat tomorrow night.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave2008 View Post
      It would likely run afoul of political interpretation, but I have seen non-political non-biases analysis, economic or otherwise, before.
      The statement that started this ball rolling centered around a non economic reason for the tariffs. Their use as a means of coercing a "better deal" out of China. This is not economics.

      Economically tariffs are rarely effective at doing more than raising prices on your own consumers.

      The basic idea being that local producers will be able to compete with foreign products due to the increased price of foreign goods. This impacts the foreign producer (the Law of Demand says it all, the higher the price the lower the demand, who will sell fewer) and it allows a domestic producer to compete at the new higher price. And consumers carry the weight by paying more.

      The effect of increasing domestic sales is rarely worth the increased cost consumers pay. The standard argument for tariffs is that it protects / produces jobs and industry. People are always in favor of "saving" someone's job. They rarely understand the increased costs that all consumers pay for this, or that the loss of purchasing power they suffer is greater than the economic value of the limited amount of jobs / industrial capacity "saved".

      Ultimately tariffs are a barrier to international trade that effectively makes those on the business end (that would be us, the consumers) poorer. If you think there is any economic function for them... I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might want to buy. The one legitimate, imho, economic function for tariffs is maintaining an industry which is strategic / necessary. I doubt the RPG market is one of them. Other possible uses are matters of domestic politics or international relations.

      Having said this, I just hope my students remember this for their Macroeconomics final exam next week... a ha! Teachable moment coming up

      *edit* You could natter on about this for ages, but I think most economists would agree with the basics outlined above. Politicians, of course, are another animal entirely and often find reasons to evade the facts, or disagree with the opinions of economists. As with all things, ymmv. My graduate degree is in history btw, I teach AP Government (Political Science), AP Macroeconomics and college history classes (B-17A and B-17B U.S. history surveys) at the moment. I am, in essence, an informed layman, not an economist. Hence this note / edit.
    1. GreyLord's Avatar
      GreyLord -
      It's difficult to talk about this stuff but not get into the politics of it.

      Tariffs have their time and place, some being beneficial and some are not that beneficial.

      It boils down to the REASONS for the tariffs and HOW they affect things.

      A big thing that could be argued about the ways trade has been occurring between the US and other nations with free trade for the past 2 decades can deal directly with the idea of the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the middle class getting smaller. Tariffs CAN BE ONE WAY to change this direction, where you grow the middle class, and even out the differences between the rich and poor. Of course, this can also be done via many various taxes in many various ways.

      These are things that the EU has dealt with, and indeed, one could argue one of the reasons the EU has banded together in regards to these types of ideas.

      However, to get into the specifics, especially with how strongly people feel about the divide economically of different classes in the economic realm, vs. those in power and those not in power, as well as the impacts of such would probably get too close to politics for any comfort of discussion in this forum.

      Tariffs are not necessarily a BAD thing. This does not mean they are necessarily a GOOD thing either.

      What is interesting is how it might impact the EU. People may think because they live across the water that it will only impact Americans. However, at least in England, what may be $50 in the US, seems to translate to £50 in the UK...or €50 in Europe major. It should only be around £40 in England if you actually figure out equivalent costs and €45 in Europe...but the kinks seem to regulate it higher. There are various reasons for this, but overall it's because they are set to have a certain number seen, and represented in many cases (or so it seems).

      So...if prices RISE in the US...so let's say RPG books suddenly are selling for $70 in the US, will that mean they will find it acceptable to charge £70 overseas, or €70?

      Implications can be interesting when considering how reflective costs seem in numbers in relation to US retail prices compared to Europe's prices.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      The statement that started this ball rolling centered around a non economic reason for the tariffs. Their use as a means of coercing a "better deal" out of China. This is not economics.
      That is incorrect. What started the comments about analysis was this comment in post #8 by @Trastone: "I love how people’s comments are so overly simplified about what is going on."

      Then my reply (and similar others) that I was not expecting detail analysis from the economic impact of tariffs from an RPG site.
    1. ShadowAssassin -
      One thing you have to remember when comparing US prices to EU prices is that EU prices usually include VAT at varying rates (zero on books in the UK, but higher in Germany for example) whereas US prices typically don't factor in US taxes as they vary by State and city (unless you are using Amazon of course).
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Quote Originally Posted by MNblockhead View Post
      If the prices do go up significantly for US customers, it should provide a feeling of schadenfreude to European Kickstarter backers.
      This American living in Austria can attest to that inevitable satisfaction we will feel here if that becomes the case.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave2008 View Post
      That is incorrect. What started the comments about analysis was this comment in post #8 by @Trastone: "I love how people’s comments are so overly simplified about what is going on."

      Then my reply (and similar others) that I was not expecting detail analysis from the economic impact of tariffs from an RPG site.
      And I thought his comment reflected a non economic use for the tariffs. That people did not know what was "going on" in relation to negotiations with China (diplomacy) versus any economic effect of them. I may be wrong, but that's what his wording says to me.
    1. LlSinopa's Avatar
      LlSinopa -
      The uncertainty of the effects of tariffs on print costs changed our plans for printing 47 Furious Tails, Issue One. We're printing domestically in the US now to avoid any complications which could affect our product delivery. It's simply driven by economics and a concern for timeliness of fulfillment of backer rewards and getting books into the hands of folks who want them.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      And I thought his comment reflected a non economic use for the tariffs. That people did not know what was "going on" in relation to negotiations with China (diplomacy) versus any economic effect of them. I may be wrong, but that's what his wording says to me.
      To clarify, I wasn't trying to say whether or not trastone's comments were political, I was saying that my response and similar others were not political in nature.
    1. Staffan's Avatar
      Staffan -
      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      The basic idea being that local producers will be able to compete with foreign products due to the increased price of foreign goods. This impacts the foreign producer (the Law of Demand says it all, the higher the price the lower the demand, who will sell fewer) and it allows a domestic producer to compete at the new higher price. And consumers carry the weight by paying more.

      The effect of increasing domestic sales is rarely worth the increased cost consumers pay. The standard argument for tariffs is that it protects / produces jobs and industry. People are always in favor of "saving" someone's job. They rarely understand the increased costs that all consumers pay for this, or that the loss of purchasing power they suffer is greater than the economic value of the limited amount of jobs / industrial capacity "saved".
      A related but slightly different use of tariffs would be as compensation for "unfair competition." For example, the EU has stricter laws regarding treatment of farm animals than the US. This means that raising animals for food is more expensive in the EU. It would be totally fair for the EU to levy tariffs on meat imported from the US to compensate for this - and it makes little sense for the EU to say "We don't condone animals being treated this way, but we'll buy your meat anyway."
    1. Sword of Spirit's Avatar
      Sword of Spirit -
      Quote Originally Posted by Greysword View Post
      I would love it if they would allow the book to be printed in Germany, where they have a personal attachment to the game. I woudl pay more for a book that doesn't fall apart quickly.
      The Torg Eternity books printed in Germany actually have sewn binding! I don't know the last time I've seen that in an RPG product. I wish I saw it a lot more.

      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      The basic idea being that local producers will be able to compete with foreign products due to the increased price of foreign goods. This impacts the foreign producer (the Law of Demand says it all, the higher the price the lower the demand, who will sell fewer) and it allows a domestic producer to compete at the new higher price. And consumers carry the weight by paying more.
      So that means that unless China is putting out domestic RPGs, this isn't going to be doing anyone any good on that particular front?
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      And I thought his comment reflected a non economic use for the tariffs. That people did not know what was "going on" in relation to negotiations with China (diplomacy) versus any economic effect of them. I may be wrong, but that's what his wording says to me.

      To clarify, I wasn't trying to say whether or not trastone's comments were political or economic in nature, I was saying that my response and similar others were economic in nature. My response was:

      "Personally I wouldn't expect a detailed analysis of the economics of trade and tariffs on an RPG website, but perhaps my expectations are off "

      and Morrus' response to the same comment was: "Sure. Provide a detailed economical analysis then. We’ll wait. "

      So whatever the intent of trastone, we started discussing economic analysis for some reason
    1. dragoner's Avatar
      dragoner -
      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      Economically tariffs are rarely effective at doing more than raising prices on your own consumers.
      This is my take away as well, generally industries have their own supply chain, so that they are not easily replaceable; or if they are, it's through substitution, which could be e-books in this instance.

      I am, in essence, an informed layman, not an economist.
      I am not an economist either, though I have a degree in business (management) for which I did have quite a few econ classes.
    1. Myrdin Potter's Avatar
      Myrdin Potter -
      I am a CFO of public companies and recently lived in China being the CFO of a large company that was fighting tariffs well before these ones came up. It is a really complicated discussion and not one that I would type out in an RPG forum where politics are not the greatest flavor to discuss.

      The article here is correct in that tariffs on something that was tariff free in the past are a short term problem at least.

      The rest goes to whether you think the USA and China play fair in international trade and what is in their best interests to do with the complication that each leader may not do the best thing for the country if it is not the best for them.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by dave2008 View Post
      To clarify, I wasn't trying to say whether or not trastone's comments were political or economic in nature, I was saying that my response and similar others were economic in nature. My response was:

      "Personally I wouldn't expect a detailed analysis of the economics of trade and tariffs on an RPG website, but perhaps my expectations are off "

      and Morrus' response to the same comment was: "Sure. Provide a detailed economical analysis then. We’ll wait. "

      So whatever the intent of trastone, we started discussing economic analysis for some reason
      I know, it was his reasoning in favor of tariffs (as a diplomatic tool) that I considered political, not later responses
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by Staffan View Post
      A related but slightly different use of tariffs would be as compensation for "unfair competition." For example, the EU has stricter laws regarding treatment of farm animals than the US. This means that raising animals for food is more expensive in the EU. It would be totally fair for the EU to levy tariffs on meat imported from the US to compensate for this - and it makes little sense for the EU to say "We don't condone animals being treated this way, but we'll buy your meat anyway."
      That's a fairly standard reasoning for using tariffs. Worker safety costs have come up as well in tariffs.
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