Why doesn't WizKids sell 3d print files?

Descartes

Explorer
I'm thinking about getting a 3d printer to print terrain models for my games. I've been looking at free and paid files for printing. The larger models for big houses, taverns, etc. seem to be around the $30 range. It got me to thinking why don't companies like WizKids sell their model files as well as the printed minis? For example, I'm looking at the Falling Star Ship model for $250. How many of those do they actually sell at that price? If you sold the model file for $30 how many more would you sell? Plus, there is no production or packaging cost involved & it's never out of print. You could sell that file for the next 20 years and it never costs you a thing. It would be like buying the printed book for $50 (which has production costs and eventually goes out of print) or the pdf for $10, the pdf is always available.

So, with this example I could buy the file for $30 + $65 for filament (1/2 a spool per ship) = $95 for 10 ships for my pirate campaign. That would be more likely for most gamers to spend that much for 10 ships as opposed to getting 1 for $250.

This could also open up larger models for published adventures too. Who wouldn't pay $50 for a Castle Ravenloft model with each level being a separate file that can be assembled and disassembled for use during the game? I would imagine that they could sell that file at least 10,000 times in the first year plus it's more than paid for in the first year so any sales beyond that are pure profit.

So, what are your thoughts on why this is or isn't a viable business model for the future of minis with the cost of 3d printers being relatively low? Would you buy a 3d printer file for a large-scale model such as a tavern, gatehouse, castle, etc. for $10-$50?
 

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aco175

Legend
I'm sure companies are looking at it as a model, but not sure the numbers of customers are there to make it work. I'm also not sure if it will end up like Napster and music files.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
It would be neat if WotC and WizKids created a catalog of classic D&D miniatures you can purchase digitally for 3D printing . . . perhaps STL files for sculpts going back to the old-school days of the 70s and 80s.

It would also be neat if they developed a customized miniature app like HeroForge but with official D&D species, classes, characters, and monsters.

Aside: And it would also be neat if WizKids could create a digital catalog of classic HeroClix figures, including both Marvel and DC!!!

I'm sure the discussion is being had at the offices of WotC and WizKids, but the thing to keep in mind is that WizKids is in the business of producing physical models. The growing quality and availability of 3D printing is disruptive to this industry, and the existing players like WizKids, Games Workshop, and others are inevitably going to be behind the curve. Hopefully they won't be left in the dust.

WizKids also relies heavily on licensing and likely doesn't have digital miniatures as a part of their existing agreements. Their various licensors (Hasbro, Marvel, DC) might also be hesitant to license out those rights . . . or license them for a reasonable price.

I think eventually WizKids, Games Workshop, and other existing miniature companies will start offering digital models for use with digital tabletops and 3D printing . . . . but I don't expect it soon, I expect them to get into this market in an effort to catch up with the newer competition.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
The problem is WizKids, like GW, is an old school company. They make widgets to sell in stores or web stores. The concept of selling the stls is anathema to them. They look at the horror stories of big 3D companies (Loot Studios, Archvillain, Lord of the Print) and the problem of unauthorized resellers on ETSY and the like terrifies them. The fact that they constantly have to wrestle with shipping and manufacturing headaches of their widgets is ignored. I think they will embrace 3D printing when they stop having a profit long enough.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
So, what are your thoughts on why this is or isn't a viable business model for the future of minis with the cost of 3d printers being relatively low?

Oh, there are probably already load of people who will sell you 3d models of minis and terrain. And people who will sell you minis. As in - a friend of mind sells 3d printed parts of modding Hot Wheels cars (yeah, apparently, that's a thing). So sure, minis and terrain are attainable.

But, the folks who have licenses to create things that are WotC IP are unlikely to let those out so that third parties can undercut them on Etsy.
 
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I think the standard 2 pack of minis retailing for $5.99 or whatever is the bread and butter of Wizkids, and I don't think it makes economic sense for them to undercut the retail sales of those.

I would guess it is hard enough to get enough store space to display much of their range with the current market (only one shop I know of in my area has an extensive range on display). If they suddenly have 25% or whatever of their would be customers printing things at home, then they are probably going to have higher profit margins on those sales, but they slow sales of the rest at retail and kill the main business (not because stores stop stocking any, but because they can no longer justify enough space to have much range available, making them less appealing).

3d print files of everything is a great business model... for someone who hasn't already locked up physical distribution of preprinted materials. My sense is that Wizkids is not the company for that. Presumably existing distribution in game shops is part of why they are able to get the D&D license despite Hasbro itself being a leading producer of whimsically molded plastic items.

But, of course, I have access to a large games store that has an extensive range on display such that I can pick most D&D race and class combos and find (usually several) Wizkids figurines thereof, and that's where I have done most my purchases (both because of selection, competitive pricing, and having had a group that met there and a soft obligation to buy something). I don't know how common that is. The current business model seems great if they have a lot of stores with that sort of relationship. If most potential customers only have access to the one partial shelving unit of their wares I've seen at some other games shops that's a very different situation.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
Oh, there are probably already load of people who will sell you 3d models of minis and terrain. And people who will sell you minis. As in - a friend of mind sells 3d printed parts of modding Hot Wheels cars (yeah, apparently, that's a thing). So sure, minis and terrain are attainable.

But, the folks who have licenses to create things that are WotC IP are unlikely to let those out so that third parties can undercut them on Etsy.
Oof, yeah.

I'm probably late to the party, but I recently noticed there are Etsy sellers who are offering D&D ebooks . . . digital PDF files of Dragon, Dungeon, and other magazines. Etsy, apparently, is rife with piracy. I have no doubt that's true for 3D prints and STLs also.
 

Because the cost is in developing the 3 D model. Not really in printing and distributing it. If they sell their most valuable intellectual property, then they fear they aren't going to be able to sell what they see as their biggest revenue source.

Is it possible they could move to a 3D model company rather than a mini producer? Sure. But how much money do they have sunk into their manufacturing?

Also, the startup cost for making 3D models is insanely low. But the cost of making each new 3D model is high (relatively). Where the startup cost for manufacturing quantity of minis is huge, the relative cost of making and shipping each mini is miniscule.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Aren't all the MM monsters free online already? I mean, this person is insanely productive:


Now, for buildings? I bet you can find them online, but I'll point out that papercraft is a lot cheaper and more flexible than 3d printing (I know it's not the same, but it's actually quite good and so much cheaper).
 

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