Wednesday, December 23, 2015

That Big Consolidation News

So news broke this week that Asmodee US, Days of Wonder (DoW), and Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) are all consolidating as Asmodee North America. And it's HUGE news in the industry, because Asmodee is huge. But this really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone after Asmodee bought DoW and merged with FFG last year.

What is a surprise is their stance with regards to internet sales of product.  This thread and several others have popped up with all kinds of speculation. Because Asmodee North America doesn't want their games sold online.  They believe in supporting the FLGS, which I am all in favor of.

I should emphasize this: I have no insider information, here.  I'm as in the dark as the rest of you.  But I know a number of the people involved, and I trust them.

Even as a huge support of the local game store as the center of the gaming world, I still disagree with the ban of online sales. There are numerous folks who don't have local game stores. Not only that, but I don't think the ban won't stop online sales over the long term. With Asmodee North America slipping into the mass market via Target (among others), the product will be findable on Target's site.

By the way, it's not a complete ban, as ICV2 pointed out in a later article.
... retailers, unless they have a separate agreement with Asmodee NA, can no longer sell any Asmodee NA products online. Only retailers that have an agreement with Asmodee NA to sell online will be able to do so ...
Does anyone out there think that Amazon isn't already in negotiations? Or any of the major online game retailers? Hell, they may already have signed contracts in hand.

I suspect the final outcome will be similar to what Mayfair did a few years ago:

Mayfair restricted online sales of their product. More accurately, they restricted discounts on their online sales. People went nuts, predicting the end of Mayfair as a company and suggesting that this was the end for Catan.  But it seems to have worked.  Even Amazon's lowest price on Catan is only about 10% off of MAP, where previously you could find it for 30-40% off MAP.

And Mayfair (and Catan) are still trucking along.

::EDIT:: This post on BGG News went live after my post was written, but before it went live. There is some good information in the post, and I recommend reading it. It clarifies some things and highlights a few others. ::END EDIT::

So how will the consolidation impact me personally?

I don't know.  One article I linked to above specifically calls out that the three companies' creative teams will continue to operate separately.  So Asmodee's team will keep working on Asmodee's games, Fantasy Flight's teams will work on Fantasy Flight's games, and so on.  Which means that my work as part of the translation team will probably be unaffected.

But GenCon?  I don't know. I've been blessed with more than a decade as one of Asmodee's demo guys, and it's been the best decade of my life. I hope that I'm not done, there. I hope that things will continue as they have. But I don't know - it's out of my hands. And it always has been out of my hands.

So we'll see.

Regardless of what happens, I'll still be here, typing away.

Oh - and Merry Christmas, all.

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