Game Distributors Closing Down; RPG Publishers Affected

It's not just conventions which are getting cancelled; the pandemic is affecting the whole tabletop RPG industry. Distributors, such as Alliance, are closing down temporarily, meaning that many tabletop RPGs are not reaching stores; of course the stores themselves are also closed in most places. To make things worse, at least one distributor of RPGs has halted payments to publishers.

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This puts a lot of tabletop game publishers in a very precarious position. Many of them have shut down warehouse operations, or put employees on furlough.

However, digital sales are still working, and they are an excellent way to help ensure your favourite publishers make it though this crisis. Obviously, buy essentials first. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. But if you can, consider buying digital products (PDFs and the like) from your favourite publishers.

If possible try to purchase direct from the publisher, as they will get to keep the whole purchase price rather than giving a substantial percentage to a secondary seller.

Here's a letter from Diamond, a comic-book distributor which is also a distributor for many tabletop RPG companies:

Dear Diamond Vendor:
As the world responds to the outbreak of COVID-19, our focus is on protecting employees, understanding the risks to our business, evaluating the risks to our industry and examining the Federal Government resources available. While the full impact of this epidemic is still unknown, one thing is certain: supply chain disruptions have cash flow implications across the extended industry that can’t be underestimated.
While we work to understand the current industry landscape, the unfortunate truth is that we are no longer receiving consistent payments from our customers. This requires that at this time, we hold payments to vendors previously scheduled to release this week. This is a difficult decision and not one we make lightly. As this situation continues to evolve, we are committed to building out a plan for payment and will have more information to share later this week.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during these difficult times.
Stan Heidmann
President, Geppi Family Enterprises

Many small publishers are struggling right now. We at EN Publishing literally just sent our first ever major stock shipment to the US.

So, if you can afford it, and if your necessities are taken care of first, consider buying digital products directly from publishers. It might be their only income stream at the moment. Sign up to their Patreons, buy PDFs, watch streams, support Kickstarters if you can.

Additionally, many local game stores may be still doing mail order. If you can, and your local store is doing it, order directly from them. It could make the difference in helping them through this difficult time.

The CEO of Alliance (which has the same ownership as Diamond) said, a week ago " the interest of employee safety and to comply with direction from local governments... Any orders not shipped by that time will not be processed until further notice."

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Well, I'm not a really good barometer of the marketplace, but I have bought more RPG material in the last 4 weeks than I bought in the previous 4 years combined.

I have a brand new 7e CoC, 5e Pendragon, and 5e Great Pendragon Campaign hard covers sitting here beside me, and I have a ton of new pdfs.


Well If you can't buy a new rpg create one of your own design. Always wanted to do a refreshed modern version of Star Frontiers. My other attempts in the past have all gone to the file 13. That is what I have been doing the last 2 days. This time everything is falling into place. The days go by very fast.

All that because of the discussion we had here about the differences between creativity and design. :D

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I'm building up a list for if/when my local store opens back up. They barely survived the last recession.

I've been buying gift certificates using PayPal once a week at my local store. They are still responding to emails; and he's also sent out emails with his phone number if I wanted to call or text him.

Jimmy Dick

Hopefully, the stores will qualify for the loan money from the government, but I don't know how that is going to work. One major fact remains, the industry is going to go through a major period of change. A stronger focus on digital publishing is going to be essential for the companies that pull through. That makes me wonder how WotC will keep 5e moving forward. I don't waste my time with MTG stuff, so I don't know how their digital MTG is working for them, but unless they've got another product generating lots of money, I'd say WotC is in worse shape than some companies that have a strong focus on digital products.

Gen Con might very well still happen and if so, a lot of companies are going to be praying for good con attendance so as to sell product. Some of the smaller cons that actually get to happen might very well see more than the usual publisher presence if the companies think they can move physical product at those cons.

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