Some publishers consider it their business to save friendly local game stores (FLGS), claiming that these locations are the points where new players enter the hobby. The big threat to these stores is online retailers who, owing to less overhead and fewer license requirements, can offer big discounts on publishers’ products to cash-strapped consumers.
Mayfair Games famously threatens to blacklist any retailer that sells their products at less than 20% off retail price. Catalyst Game Labs offers
free to sell PDFs to purchasers of their physical product at a FLGS. Panini is trying to control exactly which retailers are allowed to sell its products. And I need not mention GW.
Now comes Cryptozoic, new holders of the WoW TCG license. They are introducing class starter decks, available only at FLGSs, intended for exactly the type of new players they want to bring into the hobby.
And now comes Green Ronin with Pre-Order Plus, offering discounts on upcoming online PDFs to people who obtain special codes, available only in person at FLGSs.
Update: And Margaret Weis Productions jumps on the bandwagon.
Good article, although I disagree with the premise. RPG publishers are trying to partner with retailers to the benefit of both.
Game stores have not seen a noticable decline lately, although role-playing certainly has. If anything, game stores will save the RPG publishers.
FFG’s 40k RPG stuff seems to always be available at the FLGS before it’s available at Amazon– sometimes a month before. I’ve never heard them state that as a policy, though.
Evil Hat’s program is superior to Catalyst’s, and they’ve been doing it longer.
GaryRay, “to the benefit of both” was implied. I don’t know specifics about RPG sales stats, however.
Eric: I think every retailer who sells both should offer the PDF free to the purchaser of the physical book. That’s kind of a no-brainer, actually.
I actually disagree with the notion that we are somehow entitled to free PDF versions of our print RPG books. If we pay for the DVD of a movie, we don’t automatically gain the ability to Video On Demand or any other streaming version of that same film. My VHS casettes didn’t magically transform into DVD – and, while some publishers are offering DVD trade-ins for Blu-Ray, ownership of the DVD doesn’t grant me ownership of the Blu-Ray.
Catalyst’s RED doesn’t give you free PDF’s with purchase – it allows you to buy Catalyst’s PDF files from the same FLGS where you buy your physical book copies – it’s a convenience thing.
“With RED, retailers will be able to sell you copies of the core book PDFs along with your hard copies right at the store simply by providing your email address” – http://catalystgamelabs.com/2009/09/25/catalyst-red/
Evil Hat is going above and beyond expectations by providing free PDF copies with proof of purchase.
I wonder how Cryptozoic is going to enforce the FLGS-only restriction on the decks.
Actually, I believe that you SHOULD get free, unrestricted conversion of any item you’ve bought/licensed in one format to any other format (not the format, just the conversion). So there. :-)
Thanks for the correction about CGL’s policy.
Too much is being made of PDFs. Sooner or later it seems, everything is going to go electronic and I hate it. I would always choose a physical book over a PDF. A book and a PDF may have the same information, but a book is real. A book is physical, you can feel it, smell it, and it holds its value long after purchase. A PDF can not be later sold, nor does one develop the same connection to a PDF as one develops with a book.