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Scott Thorne, a retailer, comments on recent events


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Treebore

First Post
I sure find this line very interesting:

"As far as the publishing side, Pazio’s Pathfinder line appears to have taken a huge chunk of market share away from D&D, with many stores reporting it supplanting 4th edition as their number one seller."


Can't say I am surprised, and certainly believe it to be true. Since it as announced that Paizo was essentially even with WOTC last quarter.

I wondered at the time if Paizo would take the lead, and at this time I believe they will. Customer relations really help, and only Paizo acknowledges that.

WOTC likes to operate as if we have to go where they take us. They are failing to realize a lot of us know we don't have to follow.

That, combined with over 100 pages of errata for their book line, are the reasons why I think WOTC is losing so much ground to Paizo, and I am looking forward to seeing how their futures play out.

Please don't take this as a "bashing" post, I clearly like Paizo much better as a company. Simple as that. I don't run or play 4E or Pathfinder, but I do buy way more than I should from Paizo.

The only thing I buy religiously from WOTC is their tiles. Prior to 4E I pretty much bought everything. I know WOTC misses me and others like me.

We made them far more money in the 3E days, now our money goes to Paizo and others.

WOTC is struggling, we know it, some of us know why. Now the question is, will WOTC figure out how to win us back before Hasbro shuts them down?

My money is on Paizo. Not because I want WOTC to fail, but because I simply believe they won't figure out how to win us back in time. I would love for WOTC to succeed, to bring me back. D&D has been a big part of my life for over 20 years, and I certainly do not want that to go away.

I want WOTC to get the message, to figure it out, to bring me back into the D&D family.

But I think Paizo is going to do it first, with this "introductory" Pathfinder James Jacobs is working on.

But I am going to have to continue to sit back and wait and see.

In the mean time playing with Castle and Crusades and following the OSR movement, and buying way too much awesome Paizo adventures and map and card products, all that will keep me pretty happy.

WOTC turning things around would make me even happier.
 

Jason Bulmahn

Explorer
with this "introductory" Pathfinder James Jacobs is working on

Woo hoo. When I get into work tomorrow, I am so going to ask James how this is coming along...:devil:

Makes my life sooo much easier.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

(and no worries Treebore, folks get me and James mixed up all the time. Its better now then when Paizo had three James, a Jeremy, two Jeffs, and a Jason)
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
So Paizo's taken a chunk out of WotC off-the-shelf market share. Well, so what?

Isn't the fact that WotC's focusing on DDI and the subscription format make this a fait accompli? It just makes logical sense. They're voluntarily giving up publishing market share, because they make more money via DDI subscriptions than they do for hardcover book sales.

This doesn't mean WotC's in trouble... it doesn't mean they need to find ways to "win back" the disenfranchised... it just means they are changing their means of distribution (much to the chagrin of the game sellers, whom I'm sure would rather keep the sales of WotC products as they probably made the sellers a good chunk of change.)
 

shadzar

First Post
WotC doesn't tell consumers what they are doing and just drops products, doesn't tell retailers, doesn't tell anyone...and people wonder why all the confusion?

I feel the return of GLEEMAX! is coming. Won't that be fun?
 


Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
So Paizo's taken a chunk out of WotC off-the-shelf market share. Well, so what?

Isn't the fact that WotC's focusing on DDI and the subscription format make this a fait accompli? It just makes logical sense. They're voluntarily giving up publishing market share, because they make more money via DDI subscriptions than they do for hardcover book sales.

This doesn't mean WotC's in trouble... it doesn't mean they need to find ways to "win back" the disenfranchised... it just means they are changing their means of distribution (much to the chagrin of the game sellers, whom I'm sure would rather keep the sales of WotC products as they probably made the sellers a good chunk of change.)

If I remember the (older) article directly, Paizo was #2 after D&D in RPG sales in hobby stores. This did not include all D&D products, such as board games (which, while a small number of products now, one, seem to be becoming more important to the D&D brand), and more importantly, miniatures (although, those are gone now, sad). It also only referenced hobby store sales, not online sales (Amazon) or big box sales (B&N, Target).

Edit: It also didn't take into account the difference in volume between #1 and #2.

Paizo is awesomesauce mixed with even more awesomesauce, but they never have been serious competition to WotC.

But you're right, with D&D products starting to focus on props - cards of various sorts (Fortune, deck in Shadowfell boxed set, deck of many things, and tokens, perhaps more to come) and with major "crunch" support seemingly moving online . . . . Paizo and other RPG companies will start to play catch-up in the printed RPG book in hobby stores category, but still won't seriously compete with WotC.

Doesn't bother me either way. I like 4e and I lurve Pathfinder, and props help my game either way! 5 years from now, I'll still be playing either D&D or Pathfinder, or perhaps even still both!
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
Very interesting comments from the retailer.

Not really (IMO, of course). He doesn't know anymore than we do, and all he really is saying is that he doesn't like the changes themselves, and he doesn't like the way WotC communicated those changes to the retailers.

I'm indifferent to the canceled books, excited about the book changing to hardcover, and sad about the loss of the minis line (although, I haven't purchased minis for years). I also think WotC could have communicated to both the fans and the retailers much better . . . .

However, it's my opinion that WotC isn't deliberately trying to keep anybody in the dark, but rather the D&D line is going through some rapid changes due to management decisions based on recent sales data. WotC is trying to adapt to a changing market and come ahead. Will they succeed? Time will tell. They guys who communicate about the game to fans and retailers are playing catch up, and the ground is still shifting beneath them. Not due to incompetence, not due to neglect, and certainly not due to indifference. But due the need to reinvent the game to succeed in a market that is in a constant state of flux.
 

Korgoth

First Post
I sure find this line very interesting:

"As far as the publishing side, Pazio’s Pathfinder line appears to have taken a huge chunk of market share away from D&D, with many stores reporting it supplanting 4th edition as their number one seller."


Can't say I am surprised, and certainly believe it to be true. Since it as announced that Paizo was essentially even with WOTC last quarter.

I wondered at the time if Paizo would take the lead, and at this time I believe they will. Customer relations really help, and only Paizo acknowledges that.

WOTC likes to operate as if we have to go where they take us. They are failing to realize a lot of us know we don't have to follow.

I say this as someone who vastly prefers 4E to 3.x/PF: WOTC seems to think that they're the only game in town, as it were... as if they have a captive audience and marketing ventures are all the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel (which actually may be true, inasmuch as I'm not sure that shooting fish in a barrel is actually possible... if you want to kill the fish you're much better off just dumping the water out). But this isn't so... eventually even the industry standard can drive off so many customers that they're not the standard anymore.

If D&D goes down in flames and leaves a crater, I actually think we're in a reasonable time for that to happen. Savage Worlds recently released a Fantasy Companion that's quite good and they've got some serious fantasy product rolling (the Hellfrost stuff is nice and there's a lot of it). Pathfinder is going strong, against my expectations (but then I hate 3.x so maybe I just doubted that anyone would still play it willingly!) and Paizo seems to be doing everything right as a company (and bully for them!). The OSR seems to have retained its vitality and actually may be poised to pick up some steam in the way of some (semi-)novel upcoming releases, such as the Lovecraft supplement for Labyrinth Lord (bolstered by the Advanced Edition Companion) and a boxed set version of Carcosa.

There are things out there that can catch some of the vacated market share. Some of it will just go away, but I think most of that which was game store commerce will simply migrate to other things in the LGS (like boardgames) if it does not go into other RPG product lines.

So if D&D tanks it's not good news but I don't think it's the end of the world. The dice will roll on.
 

ggroy

First Post
There are things out there that can catch some of the vacated market share. Some of it will just go away, but I think most of that which was game store commerce will simply migrate to other things in the LGS (like boardgames) if it does not go into other RPG product lines.

Wonder how much of that "vacated market share" will just completely disappear, such as casual D&D players exiting the hobby entirely.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I was one of the first to raise the specter of 4Ed as the "New Coke" (March or April 2008, as Irecall)- not out of hate but of concern. There are just certain things I've noticed about the way the brand has been managed since the 4Ed rollout that resonated with that marketing blunder. See, even though it's not my game of choice, I would rather not see it crash & burn. I don't want to be right in this case.

But if the retailers who sell the product are getting concerned, then so am I.
 
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ProfessorCirno

First Post
I was one of the first to raise the specter of 4Ed as the "New Coke" (March or April 2008, as Irecall)- not out of hate but of concern. There are just certain things I've noticed about the way the brand has been managed since the 4Ed rollout that resonated with that marketing blunder. See, even though it's not my game of choice, I would rather not see it crash & burn. I don't want to be right in this case.

But if the retailers who sell the product are getting concerned, then so am I.

The problem with these comparisons - and why they're so tiresome - is that New Coke lasted months. Less then half a year.

4e has gone for two years now. Wait, more, now.

If customers were streaming and bailing out as fast as some people seem to think they were, I really think it wouldn't have lasted as long as it has.
 

The problem with these comparisons - and why they're so tiresome - is that New Coke lasted months. Less then half a year.

4e has gone for two years now. Wait, more, now.

If customers were streaming and bailing out as fast as some people seem to think they were, I really think it wouldn't have lasted as long as it has.
Maybe, but I think the lawyer makes a good point. Coke can most likely pick up on daily sales data for almost instantaneous consumer trends. Several months of data for new coke is far far more indicative than amost 3 years of 4e sales data traversing the GFC (a very significant factor in my opinion). Still though, my gut tells me Dannyalcatraz has the right of it. D&D has taken a big kick in the pants and it is starting to become obvious to its consumers.

Best Regards
Herremann the Wise
 

WOTC is struggling, we know it, some of us know why. Now the question is, will WOTC figure out how to win us back before Hasbro shuts them down?

Claims like this always amuse me. WoTC's primary product line was, I think, mentioned in Hasbro's last annual report as offsetting an otherwise lean period. WoTC is therefore not even close to struggling. On the other hand, compared to Magic the Gathering, D&D is just a sideshow. Now if you're wondering how long before WoTC shuts D&D down (or more likely pulls back to just the "Essential 10") I have no idea.
 

MoxieFu

First Post
I was one of the first to raise the specter of 4Ed as the "New Coke" (March or April 2008, as Irecall)- not out of hate but of concern. There are just certain things I've noticed about the way the brand has been managed since the 4Ed rollout that resonated with that marketing blunder. See, even though it's not my game of choice, I would rather not see it crash & burn. I don't want to be right in this case.

But if the retailers who sell the product are getting concerned, then so am I.

I remember that. I was the one who compared the rollout and the GSL to the way IBM handled the PS/2 line of computers by forcing their customers to change.
 

BryonD

Hero
Maybe, but I think the lawyer makes a good point. Coke can most likely pick up on daily sales data for almost instantaneous consumer trends. Several months of data for new coke is far far more indicative than amost 3 years of 4e sales data traversing the GFC (a very significant factor in my opinion).
Exactly. Not all market cycles have the same time scale. And soft drinks rotate through much more quickly than RPGs.

Comparing the two one-to-one is like saying your 14 year old dog isn't old because your uncle is 58.
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
But if the retailers who sell the product are getting concerned, then so am I.

For me, I have no way of knowing mr. Thorne's track record in predicting the development of the business of publishing RPGs.

But my FLGS staff, retailers as it were, are the last people on this earth I turn to when looking for accurate gossip on how things are going in the business and in the hobby.

I don't know how many times I've heard things about lines being cancelled and not being cancelled and whatnot from "trusted sources" of FLGS staff. This time it might be that the doom and gloom are warranted, but until the apocalypse arrives my motto is "don't borrow trouble. And don't take much heed of madmen and game store staff." :p

Cheers!

/M
 

francisca

Explorer
One thing is for sure, WotC isn't going to maintain the #1 market share by removing products from the release schedule. You gotta have product on the shelves, you know? In addition, whether or not 4e (and D&D as TableTop product) is circling the drain, certainly people are worried about it. Seeing a dearth of product on the shelves may just confirm that suspicion is some people's minds, and they may not bother to pickup the last few products of (in their mind) a dying game.

Now, it could also be that WotC is really getting ready to get away from the deadtree market for traditional RPG product formats, and that this is nothing alarming to them. Who knows?
 

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