February 28, 2011

Battlefront vs. Maelstrom - Conclusion

I have watched this debate over the last few days and I am amazed at the propoganda and misunderstandings from a lot of the community. I would like to state that I support Maelstrom Games in general though they are no angels either. You can get all the pertinent information here. Maelstrom are selling the products at a much larger discount than the other retailers. While this is good for the consumer in the short term or on an individual basis it is bad for Battlefront on the long term and bad for players of Flames of War. Why you might ask. Well simply from the fact of what this will cause in the market.

For players of Flames of War getting cheap product is great. However as this comes from only one source what happens to the other sources. Well they will be forced to either follow suit, which they are not allowed to, or stop selling an unprofitable product. This in turn removes the stock in large levels at least from brick and mortar stores. This results in less viral marketing and in turn lower numbers of new players entering the hobby. Roll that forward for a few years and Flames of War will be stuck within whats called a death spiral where they are no longer able to grow effectively and as such may result in the end of the company. This is a good possibility due to a single online stockist offering a massive discount. It has long term consequences that should be noticed.

Why are Maelstrom doing this, they claim in the interests of the customers but come on we should not be so naieve. We know they are a business and yes they are gamers. However at a certain point money takes over and the bottom line becomes ever increasingly important. Maelstrom needs to squeeze out its compeitors and one way of doing this is underselling. If you compare it to a Ryanair model of cheap flights they are simply doing the same. They are balancing volume of sales versus a lower profit margin and they are doing it really well. This isn't in the long term intrests of any of us. As it will result in games stores closing. Simple as that Maelstrom offers too good a deal to pass up. I am like you greedy and I don't want to spend more euros on an expensive hobby than I need to.

Battlefront has to respond to this. They are not acting in the best interests of the customers either let it be said. They are moving to protect their market share and market placement. They have to as they don't control IP on the game. They can be replaced by another supplier in terms of minatures easily and then they are going to be in trouble, fast! They have to stop sales at a massive discount from a single trader. That could easily be done by removing what would appear to be a cosy arrangement with the retailers to not sell below 10% as a discount. Allowing everyone online at least to do that would spread the damage and benefit the customers somewhat. It isn't great from the point of view of high street retailers but it is a start.

A good site to see what I am talking about is Canister and Grape the customers are looking at this simply from a cheap miniatures point of view and not as a long term cause and effect. Believe me I want cheaper miniatures, however I also want local games stores!

8 comments:

  1. Excellent post, and a salient point. At various points in history, I've had no access to a decent independent games store. At the moment there is an excellent one doing a variety of ranges and games, with, what is in my opinion the most important thing a games store brings, a large playing area for gaming which is a great hub in the area for meeting new players and such. Local games stores are the focus for local games groups, so I would argue that not only has this issue consequences for Battlefront, but major ones for the entire hobby.

    As a startling examples, a warjack I was after recently was SIX euros cheaper in Maelstrom than in this store. I want to support local games stores, but that's simply too much of a difference to ignore.

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  2. Haven't thought about this, nice post Redmanphill ;D

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Im on Maelstroms side in this. For New Zealand gamers it is disappointing that we have always been able to purchase FOW miniatures cheaper from the UK via Maelstrom than from local suppliers. That a local manufacturer (or what used to be a local manufacturer) and game designer cannot supply Kiwis with reasonably priced products is a sad state of affairs. That they have taken this stance against Maelstrom is surprising and not in the best interests of the gaming community.

    Yes I would love to support my local store more but simply put manufacturers need to start selling products cheaper to those stores. At the moement nearly everyone in the New Zealand gaming community buys from Maelstrom not locally purely because of price.

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  5. Since redmanphill has linked to our C&G blog I feel bound to point out the above is somewhat of a simplification of my point. Feel free to read the discussion that has ensued there for a deeper view. Cheers, Millsy.

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  6. Well one of the discussions and points raised is that idependent retailers should form a buying block. Again this isn't really viable. It wouldn't reduce the buying cost as that is discounted at 40% already. They are still restricted by the sales reduction limit of 10%. So unless they flout this and risk the wrath of Battlefront then they can't compete with a web retailer that is prepared to.

    I am also intersted in the fact that Wwayland Games also offered a similar discount at the same time and there has been no reprecussions on them. I am assuming because of this that there is something else at play here.

    All I can say is that s you are lucky enough to have a good retail store near you support it. I not then feel free to buy what you can as cheap as you can. If you don't support the stores they won't survive.

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  7. Hmm, price fixing is a criminal offence in the UK/EU with substantial financial penalties.

    Companies always claim to be price fixing for the customer's benefit. The law tends not to be impressed.

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  8. Agreed, getting the best price (i.e. no restrictions) is generally considered to be in the customers best interest.

    If a company wishes to control the price of its product, it makes the product and then sells it itself. Otherwise normal market rules (and laws) apply. No little puppy-dog eyes because this is a 'hobby'.

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