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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 "...in 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."
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

Celebrim

Legend
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.
 

Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
There is word Diamond is not going to make some payments to its suppliers.


So for Diamond, alot of printer/press companies had to close. Alot of stores had to close too.

With no new products coming in, and few stores open to accept any products, they were stuck in a no-win situation.
 


atanakar

Hero
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

Explorer
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.
 

ddaley

Explorer
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
I have always been fond of Star Frontiers. I still have all of my old material. Would be nice to see an updated version of that.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
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.
WotC will be just fine. It’s the small to mid level companies with little to fall back on that are going to struggle.
 

atanakar

Hero
I have always been fond of Star Frontiers. I still have all of my old material. Would be nice to see an updated version of that.
A similar updated game by fans of Star Frontiers. I have the PHB and Referee pdfs. Well done.

My project is far from being available any time soon.
 
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EthanSental

Adventurer
And the sales of 5e to this point and the slow release rate might help WoTC even more, small staff still able to collaborate and get things lined up to eventually send to the printers for the September release or whenever the fall release is. Hopefully things will settle down in time for that and hopefully quicker fo every one.
 

Speaking as the owner of a Comic and Game store... stuff is rough out there right now. I'm probably going to be able to ride it out, but we're losing at least several hundred dollars every day. Our expenses will drop drastically with Diamond not shipping comics (which is why they're doing it, aside from the uncertainty of if they'll be able to even get shipping companies to go, or if they can even open their own warehouses.)

My store's not closed, but it's open only to curbside pickup, and seeing as we've been told definitively to "stay home" we only get around four customers per day for that.

... It sure ate into what otherwise would have been amazing sales with Wildemount and new WizKids minis in the last few weeks, game-wise.
 

MOB from Chaosium here. Alliance is one of our biggest distributors to game stores, so this affects us directly. We're one of the companies Alliance has notified that they'll be delaying payments to; so we await more information about their payment plan with great interest.

These are strange and difficult times, but we've made the decision to not reduce our headcount nor cut anyone's hours at Chaosium. Fortunately, our own fulfilment warehouses in the USA, UK, Australia, and Poland, are still able to ship out orders as normal, so purchases made directly on our website Chaosium.com remain unaffected for the time being. While delivery times might be disrupted or delayed, at present the only countries we definitively can't ship to are Norway and Switzerland. If these circumstances change we will update everyone.

Buying electronic versions of our products from Chaosium.com or DriveThruRPG is, of course, unaffected too.

We get it though, if peoples' current circumstances mean this is something they can't afford right now. To help people in this period of self-isolation, we're putting up assorted Free Stuff on our website, and our line editors have produced an introductory primer on how to get started playing games online.

We continue to wish everyone all the best, until the Stars are Right again.
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
Isn't this an opportunity for one-(wo)man shops to make some money? The post here is still running, the postal pickup service for businesses is still running. A small POD shop could do printing on it's own (as long as there are supplies) and ship to one-(wo)man stores directly, who can supply customers by post. So publisher => POD shop => store => customer. Publishers could even do some direct sales that way. Or you could do stuff directly from China (Aliexpress orders are arriving again), produce it there and let a distribution center so shipping from there...

People will need to be creative (and safe!), but there is also an opportunity for the very small business and folks out of work.

One issue could be international shipments (to certain), anything but regular post is going to end up sitting in port and being very expensive.

Overall this is going to be a big domino effect. People can't get to business X, business X goes out of business, people loose their job, no income, can't pay business Y, business Y goes out of business, repeat...
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Isn't this an opportunity for one-(wo)man shops to make some money? The post here is still running, the postal pickup service for businesses is still running. A small POD shop could do printing on it's own (as long as there are supplies) and ship to one-(wo)man stores directly, who can supply customers by post. So publisher => POD shop => store => customer. Publishers could even do some direct sales that way.
DTRPG’s partner Lightning Source has stopped printing PoD cards for the time being. They’re still printing books, but that could change at any time.
 



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