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GENCON 2014

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Dunno what Salute's attendance numbers are, so I can't compare (GenCon reportedly had 49,000 unique attendees in 2013).  But that's only part of the point.

 

The rest of the point is the geographic area that attendees are drawn in from.  If you have a show that draws in people from all over the British Isles, then great.  But you're only pulling in from the British Isles.  If you add some people from Western Europe, that's better, but...

 

GenCon gets people from across the entire United States.  That's an *huge* geographical region to pull in from.  A direct line across the US from Los Angeles to New York City is just under 2500 miles.  A direct line from London to Moscow is just over 1500 miles.  And that's before you start looking at the Canadians who also attend GenCon.

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Number of visitors...

 

Which devolves down to a question that I've already implicitly asked - how many attendees were at Salute this year?  I did a quick search on the internet, but couldn't find any information on that.

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Dunno what Salute's attendance numbers are, so I can't compare (GenCon reportedly had 49,000 unique attendees in 2013).  But that's only part of the point.

 

The rest of the point is the geographic area that attendees are drawn in from.  If you have a show that draws in people from all over the British Isles, then great.  But you're only pulling in from the British Isles.  If you add some people from Western Europe, that's better, but...

 

GenCon gets people from across the entire United States.  That's an *huge* geographical region to pull in from.  A direct line across the US from Los Angeles to New York City is just under 2500 miles.  A direct line from London to Moscow is just over 1500 miles.  And that's before you start looking at the Canadians who also attend GenCon.

Just quickly as I need to get some sleep, but Salute pulls in visitors from all across Europe and from across the pond - both US and Canada.  But that is not my point?

 

And to answer Eumarin, South London Warlords probably don't release those figures.  Apparently a few years back they got into hot water with the tax man?  But not entirely sure of the relevance of this.  I attended this year and for a show of that size it was busy?

 

I think saying that Spartan HAVE to attend GenCon is missing the point as surely it is their decision at the end of the day?

 

I do not know what knowledge you have of running a company, I suspect like mine it is limited to knowledge from others - may be not?

 

But it is quite clear from history that Spartan have not attended in person (to my knowledge) any show in the US.  I do not dispute the points (some very good) being made as to why they should do so, but they, so far, have made the decision not to?

 

Discussing travelling to Moscow is odd, as this would involve all sorts of issues particularly with what is going on in Ukraine?  But this has no bearing on why Spartan have to date chosen not to travel to a show in the US?

 

Perhaps if things stay calm in this discussion, it is something they would consider.  Rather than moan write a letter (whoops email) to them inviting them to attend? :)

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von Klinkeroffen -

 

As I indicated above, I can't quote on this board for some reason (or copy and paste, for that matter).  So this response isn't arranged the way I would prefer it.  Having said that,

 

 

As I mentioned above, I understand that this is ultimately Spartan Games's decision.  But I am also of the opinion that ignoring GenCon, which is what they appear to be doing, is a mistake if they want to cultivate the US market.  I've heard from game company owners, and from them come away with an understanding that getting product on brick and mortar store shelves is superior to getting product into internet stores.  I've heard from retail owners, and come away with the understanding that if the store owners know very little about the product, it's not going to get stocked.

 

Ergo, a game company should want their product stocked on brick and mortar shelves, and the best way to do so is to ensure that the retail store owners are interested in the product.  And the single easiest way to get genuine attention from retail store owners in the US and Canada is by showing it off at GenCon.

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Spartan did their big Dystopian Legions reveal at GenCon in 2012, and the internet was all abuzz... Until Spartan got really bad press from everybody because they were expecting these to be 28mm figures as that was the scale Spartan was telling people and that they had listed on the website, but then the models were 32mm plus, which soured the entire steam punk gaming community and the 40k community.

 

That said, alexmann, apparently the US distributors are not doing the job that would provide them Spartans discount if that is considered the distributors job. Right now Spartan is dying within the US community, and we can talk all we want about geographical area, but the UK has a population of 68 million people. The US has a population of 314 million people. I don't know what the number of gamers within both populations are but the US/Canada has a much higher potential.

 

Spartan also seems to have a little difficulty immersing themselves in the European community because they don't translate their gaming materials.

 

That said, that's not necessarily my main point. But specifically I do know that it's impossible to find any of Spartans new products in the North Texas or Austin area stores, because so few people buy them every store gave away their inventory. Nobody knows about the games and very few people play them so nobody searches them out. 

 

If it's a distributors job to show off the games at the gaming shows then they Spartan shouldn't be giving them the discount, because the US distributors are not doing a single thing to sell the product. TheWarstore stopped even announcing Spartans new releases, the Miniature Market doesn't either. That may be because nobody in the US buys them or some nefarious plot to keep the company down... But in order for any game to grow the potential consumers have to know that it exists. 

 

Currently neither Spartan nor the distributors are doing anything and the US community for Spartan. Everybody in the US, and a good deal of international gaming sites happen to look to GenCon for the new games, so it is a great place to drum up buzz and excitement. But something needs to be done because it's much harder to regain what you've already lost than maintain and expand what you have.

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GenCon is not the only show in the US, as neither is Salute the only show in the UK.

 

I don't think it's a case of Spartan snubbing Gencon or the US.  It's their decision.  To say that they HAVE to attend is I'm afraid arrogant.  Let them decide.  I am sure that if this is something that they are considering that one day they will attend a US show of their choosing. ;)

 

I must say though, that it is nice to see the passion that their American supporters have for them and their games systems. :)


 

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von Klinkeroffen -

 

As I indicated above, I can't quote on this board for some reason (or copy and paste, for that matter).  So this response isn't arranged the way I would prefer it.  Having said that,

 

 

As I mentioned above, I understand that this is ultimately Spartan Games's decision.  But I am also of the opinion that ignoring GenCon, which is what they appear to be doing, is a mistake if they want to cultivate the US market.  I've heard from game company owners, and from them come away with an understanding that getting product on brick and mortar store shelves is superior to getting product into internet stores.  I've heard from retail owners, and come away with the understanding that if the store owners know very little about the product, it's not going to get stocked.

 

Ergo, a game company should want their product stocked on brick and mortar shelves, and the best way to do so is to ensure that the retail store owners are interested in the product.  And the single easiest way to get genuine attention from retail store owners in the US and Canada is by showing it off at GenCon.

 

The problem is that here in North Texas, there were at least five gaming stores that have ever carried Spartan products. Going back two years ago when Dystopian Legions launched, they were all getting and stocking new product. Nobody hears anything about any of the games from Spartan about actually having a complete product, and nobody buys into the game. 

 

Of all the stores. Three of them gave away their inventory to one of the other stores at cost so they could actually stock something people buy. The last store just put all Spartan products on 50% clearance... Great for me expanding my fleet but not great for building confidence in the games.

 

The problem here is not the retailers being oblivious to the games rather that the gamers don't see any buzz or excitement from anybody other than me and my two friends who play when we can.

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Best get buzzing then?  ;)

 

Work out a strategy to entice your friends into playing Spartans games and spread the contagion that is Spartan Games :)

 

On a serious note, I do sympathise and wish all the US gamers every success in their endeavour to entice Spartan across the pond.  I feel some very good points have been made, but it's not my decision but ultimately Spartans. 

 

Travelling to a show in the US would be a major undertaking and something that you would hope any company would consider before hand.  Who know's perhaps it is something that they are considering?  Only time will tell. :)

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I'd leave geography out of it, USA is a lot of empty space with occasional town and city in between even more empty space. Number of visitors is by far more important than "land covered".

 

By either way of measurement, Gencon is huge and should not be ignored. Probably 50,000 attendees, even if only a fraction are tabletop gamers, is huge. If you want to talk area, just the Firestorm players that I spoke to cover as far South as Arkansas, as far North as Michigan, and as far East as Maryland. I'm sure with a little more conversation I could have confirmed a player from West of the Mississippi River.  (For those less familiar with US geography, Michigan, Arkansas, and Maryland are very near the North, South, and East edges of the country, respectively.)

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Arkansas is west of the Mississippi. It's eastern border IS the Mississippi.

 

That said, I know that two of my friends from New Mexico/Texas would have gone if their cars were not dead currently.

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You know what really bugs me is the fact that FSA has almost ZERO content on youtube. I feel like this would be a great way to introduce people to the products and game mechanics... but by gosh theres just nobody there willing to make product reviews or even simple batreps. I literally check youtube once a day at least to see if anyone posted ANYTHING regarding FSA and almost always my efforts are in vain *and I'm talking about FSA 2.0 not the original first impression videos when the game first launched*. There is even a DEDICATED Firestorm Armada channel called Fleet Signal, they put up like 4 videos of some unboxings but then POOF nothing for 2-3 months. And there is a small handful of batreps on youtube *most in german*... but again the amount is ridiculously small. 

 

So I guess what I'm saying is, yeah sure we can get all irritated that they didn't go to GenCon... but I think WE as a Spartan community could do so so much to really give there products the exposure they so desperately need here in the US. Make videos of your fleet collections, film banter batreps, rules Q&A, even terrain tutorials... flood the internet with all of Spartan's glory! 

UPDATE: Holy ballsak it looks like Fleet Signal actually posted something today, just a Ryushi group unboxing but i guess its something.

https://www.youtube.com/user/FleetSignal

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First I want to thank everyone for you comments here they were all well said and I am glad the I am not the only one that feels this way!! I am very fustraded and hope it changes but like some said before me, all the gammers that have bought and then sold there fleets wwill never come back to the game and if they would it would take a mirical, and only if SG started to show the US some attention!! So as for me I will keep my fleets of FSA and DW but I will not spend another dime on SG product until I see the player base start to grow, and as of right now I do not see this happening!!

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A player base doesn't grow itself out of thin air guys.

 

I first had Firestorm in my store last December and have worked endlessly to push the product. I now run a very successful FSA League with 12 players gaming 2 to 3 times a week and about a 25 player base overall, which considering the competition in my area, the Midlands, home of Wargaming in the WORLD,is pretty amazing. Most nights we are getting more FSA players than even 40k.

 

It is continuing to grow and Planetfall is already sold to all of these guys. We've pre-reserved at least 5/6 of everything in the first wave and it will all sell. We have our first tournament this month and I'm already planning ones for next year too. It takes a lot of work to grow a community and you can't just expect Spartan to go POOF HERE IS A COMMUNITY. We've grown ours through demo'ing, playing and showcasing FSA in front of customers and then this is reciprocated through them to their friends who then have gone on to buy the product because it is, at it's core, a effin' good game system with gorgeous models and easy to get in. We hardly EVER have any stock issues with anything that's needed.

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Arkansas is west of the Mississippi. It's eastern border IS the Mississippi.

 

That said, I know that two of my friends from New Mexico/Texas would have gone if their cars were not dead currently.

Good point (he says, wiping the egg off his face)! Being the guy from Michigan, I was thinking of Arkansas as straight South, which it isn't really, without considering that it's also West quite a bit. 

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A player base doesn't grow itself out of thin air guys.

 

I first had Firestorm in my store last December and have worked endlessly to push the product. I now run a very successful FSA League with 12 players gaming 2 to 3 times a week and about a 25 player base overall, which considering the competition in my area, the Midlands, home of Wargaming in the WORLD,is pretty amazing. Most nights we are getting more FSA players than even 40k.

 

It is continuing to grow and Planetfall is already sold to all of these guys. We've pre-reserved at least 5/6 of everything in the first wave and it will all sell. We have our first tournament this month and I'm already planning ones for next year too. It takes a lot of work to grow a community and you can't just expect Spartan to go POOF HERE IS A COMMUNITY. We've grown ours through demo'ing, playing and showcasing FSA in front of customers and then this is reciprocated through them to their friends who then have gone on to buy the product because it is, at it's core, a effin' good game system with gorgeous models and easy to get in. We hardly EVER have any stock issues with anything that's needed.

 

Well, when I started playing DW, a couple of months after its release, there were approximately 10 people that had bought fleets and started playing... The rest of the people at my LGS soon left for other things though.

 

On the other hand, I've been working hard to develop a group for Dystopian Legions since release. I hosted three demo games at a local convention, yet was unable to get a single person willing to really give it a shot, and none of my other friends were interested either.

 

The problem is that it requires both the players and the company to really build a group.

 

I could talk on and on about the games potential, and how some of the game mechanics made for a very enjoyable game with very good pieces of strategic and tactical thought. 

But all the people around me saw a game with one infantry section per faction, one cavalry unit, one veteran unit, and a field gun/apc. 

 

I was completely unable to talk about how the game may progress, or how it would function at higher levels, because Spartan was so adamant about keeping the game an utter secret. I had 4 friends who were ready to start the game, but were wanting to just play the Covenant, French, or Russians...

 

They forgot about the game long ago and haven't heard that Spartan is finally releasing DL 2.0 with the new factions over two years later, because Spartan doesn't market their game and has been very poor at supporting it in the US. There is not much that I can do because Spartan has not provided enough information or support to be able to make people comfortable with the game system.

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I like a lot of what has been said here but I do have to agree that it sounds a lot like a gawd awful amount of bellyaching. It really is down to the customer in this instance to drive interest. I would love it if every store would just stock this and promote it out of hand, but they wont. Even the one flgs here that stocks Spartan's stuff (only Firestorm) doesn't push it, our new store's owner was excited to see us playing and said that if there's enough interest then he will stock it, but I cant put it on him to take up the mantle and I certainly can't expect Spartan to throw money at our ~15 regular gamers in the hopes that the money may come back to them. 

 

Get people locally to play, if its just you and a buddy then do it. Every time I bring out Spartan's toys people want to see it, the models are great (even with my poor painting) and the rules are solid. No other game I've seen can make both claims and that stands out. Once you have peoples interest get them to talk to your store owners to get them on board, work with them to setup game days, tournys, etc... Go to your painting night! Get the figures in peoples hands. Be ready to answer questions, direct people to rules and resources or online retailers if needed. Snag pickup games of 40k (or whatever is popular!) if you must so you can get a dialog going with other gamers and I bet if you talk to 40k players the majority of the vets have some BFG or Epic laying around, use that! I've found this is the perfect opening to get the core group interested if 40k is big in your area. Ask for help, you might be surprised to find people in the same boat as you. 

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As a player of many obscure and not so popular wargames (read anything that doesn't rhyme with Morty Tay) I have found that the onus on getting the community interested in games rests on me, not on the producers of said games.

 

Because of this, for any game I want to play, I generally have two complete armies, rules, and terrain. (Yay having a well paying job!)  I'll go down to my local gaming store on the open night and setup on a table.  It helps to be a friendly guy with decent hygiene, shouldn't have to add that, but a nice polo and a little aftershave does wonders for first impressions.  Usually my game not being Morty Tay attracts some interest, and I convince one of the onlookers to try a game, and another to be their opponent.  (When introducing a new game, I always act as an arbitrator, not a player.  My payoff comes later)  I explain the rules, and tell them I won't tell them what to do, but rather I will act as an advisor.  They can run plans of action past me, and I will give them the pros and cons as I see it.  Then the game begins.  Again, being an outgoing and fun guy helps a lot here.  Praise good shots and plans, act out parts of the battle with thrilling imagery.  At this point my table has usually gathered a lot of onlookers, and by the mid point in the game I've got others queing up to try it.  That's when I know it is a success.  I run three or so games, depending on my time constraints, in an evening.  Everyone who walks up and asks me about it gets a small slip of paper with relevant info on it, namely the game name, the company who makes it, and their website, along with my gaming email address asking if they want to join a group for said game.

 

I usually have three to four signups by the time I wake up, and within a week a good 8 or more players.  The LGS orders in the game pieces required (or they apologize and say the distributor doesn't stock them) and we set up a game time.  I then start to play with the group, rather then introducing people to it, and that's my pay off.

 

Using this method, I've started several leagues and gaming groups.  Some gaming companies are better then others when it comes to support, and by that I mean a well put together website, logos for download, etc, not product support.  But no matter the obscurity of the system, I can always get people playing the game, so I have never understood the "I have no one to play with" argument.  They're not going to seek you out, you have to seek them out in most cases.

 

Anyway, long story short, I'm now doing this for Firestorm Armada in my region of Canuckistan, and I've got 6 people ready to drop out of hyperspace and into the storm zone.

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The success of a product lies in 2 areas. Game store owners that push it and players that push it.

Having either will help grow something slowly, having both will help it grow faster.

I have never got into a game due to a con, but I have got into games through locals showing me how cool it was and knowing there were people to play.

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Well said Steve.  You need a few folks with the initiative to organize other gamers (which is like herding cats) and the enthusiasm to make it a fun experience.  Having the support of a local store helps tremendously, and it's usually not that hard to do if said store has gaming tables.  "Hey local store owner, how do you feel about letting me have the tables for four hours on sunday and in return my group will liven up the place (advertising), have neat models (product) showing to passerby, attract new gamers (customers) and in general produce sales for you?"  It's usually not a hard sell, ever, to get a store owner on side.  When you start building a community rather then just opponents, that's when a game can take hold.  Things like multi-week campaigns, prizes, and such can follow on, but the goal is to get a group of people enjoying the game.

 

I half agree with your assesment of conventions.  I have gone to a fair number, and while most vendor tables or company tables have not sold me on a product, what does do it for me, is demos.  Going to a gaming convention and playing in well run demo games can sell me on a product.  An engaged and entertaining host, who is not playing the game, but sharing it with me, leaves a great impression.  It's how I run demos of a game that rhymes with cattle cheque.  I absolutely love the game, so I share that with people who want to try it out.  When they're done, I usually get a lot asking more in-depth questions, and I point them towards the vendors who I know stock what they are looking for, be it rules, miniatures, or terrain.  I also host painting demos at cons occasionally as well, because for me that was a real hurdle when I was beginning to start playing wargames.

 

But to come back to the original point, a good company generates an enjoyable product, and markets it to some extent.  But players in a local area, and store owners, are the real ways to make inroads in a gaming community.  I like Spartan's Vanguard program a lot, it reminds me of the Commando program that the makers of Cattle Cheque run, a program that I think succeeds quite well.  Getting folks interested and enthused about a product is what I love doing, and the Admiral in me loves building campaigns and running them between groups of players.  A store near me has a slogan of "Creating a community, not just a store" and I absolutely love that mentality.  I don't want opponents, I want other players.  I don't want just a store, I want a Firebase.  I don't want to play against others, I want to enjoy the game with them.  Using that philosophy, I have never, ever, had any problem finding players for any game I've wanted to run.  1/6000 Naval combat, Victorian Steampunk Squad Combat, 15mm Modern squad combat, 1950s era Banana Republic African Dictatorship Bush Wars, etc.  I've always found willing participants who get excited by my excitement for the subject matter, and spend weekends having pretzels (and depending on the location, beer) while leading our forces to noble victory, or a claimed moral victory (read: UTTER CATASTROPHE)

 

Wow, I do ramble on a bit don't I...

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I agree with you all, and we can sit here and discuss this for days and days.  I started this thread and I guess I should of wrote a book on how I got to this point.  I have done all of things you have all pointed out.  I played DW for 3-4 years and the group grew to 10-12 players.  Then I got a new job I had to work 80-90hrs a week and I had to give up all gaming for 2.5yrs.  In that time all but 1 guy sold there stuff off, lost interest and gave up.  I picked up my First FSA fleet during that 2.5 yrs off and then when my job became normal again I started looking for players.  None left, so I bought a second fleet and started doing demos, I have done 4 in the last year and only 1 guy has purchased a fleet.  It is not easy to get people to drop $$ on a game that only one other guy plays.  One guy flat out did not like the game and the other guy is broke 90% of the time.  Warmachine is the hottest game in my area and it is a great game that the company creates BUZZ all the time, so there is more players that play that game. 

 

Really what it boils down to is most armies cost between $500 and $1000 EACH.  Most people only have time and money for ONE, maybe two.  Without the BUZZ from the manufacture and the stores there is noway that you can get people to drop $100 on a new game unless they really like it.  I have now 7 miniature games and that equals 20 different armies/fleets(40K(6), WM/H(2), DW(3), FSA(2), WWX(3), and Mercs(4).  So please do not tell me I have not tried to get people to play the games I love.  I have tried until my face turns blue.  Some are easy and some are not.  SG games were easy 4 years ago but now in my area NO ONE is interested.  So as an avid gamer that has been playing games for 25 years I can tell when a game system is hurting from lack of support and SG games in MY AREA are suffering big time!!  End of story.  That is my take on thing and that is my opinion only.  BUT it seems that I am not alone and I want to thank all the people on here that agree with me and I hope in a few years maybe it will change and I can try again.

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Couple of points.

1. Firestorm is probably one of the cheapest games to get into. All you need is a patrol fleet to start you off and a rulebook. (Or 2 player set)

2. Sometimes you can't get a group started. If the local players just aren't into space combat games, no amount of promotion will get them in.

3. Without the store pushing it as well, it can be hard to drive interest. Especially if the owner pushes people to other games.

All of these points would not be effected by Spartan going to Gencon.

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The purpose that I find with attending GenCon is not actually creating groups, although that potentially can occur I agree it is not the most likely outcome.

 

But the point of GenCon is the same as all marketing. It's getting the name of the game and a general impression in the minds of consumers. They won't take the initiative on their own likely, but the idea is that when they see me playing a game at the store. They ask if I'm playing Warhammer (always every single persons first question). I say no, it's Dystopian Legions. 

 

Now, if it's a name people don't know about the majority of the time people just walk away because they don't know what it is. But if the name is one they heard before from people talking about what was at the big conventions or seeing the names in Beasts of War then they're more likely to actually stop and give it a halfhearted chance.

 

The distributors sell product, players bring others around themselves and build groups. But all of this works much more smoothly and reliably if the seed is planted in the beginning which is easily done with marketing, which is really what the big wargame shows is about.

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