• WizKids & Gen Con: What Does Scaling Back Marketing Mean for Dice Masters?

    I've only had the pleasure of attending Gen Con once - that was just a couple of years ago. At that time, Dice Masters wasn't around, but I was pretty heavily into Heroclix. I had played in several local tournaments and won most of the time and I thought I'd try my hand at some national-level tourneys. I got schooled, but that's not what this article is about. Another story for another time, maybe.

    In any case, going to Gen Con was the gaming equivalent of making a pilgrimage to Gamer Mecca for me. I had only been to two previous conventions before Gen Con and had no idea what I was going to see - the sites, the sounds, the smells...of the delicious food trucks, that is. There were lots of world tournaments represented there with plenty of pick-up games, demo games and miscellaneous events to keep me busy. Most impressive of all: the dealer hall.

    If you haven't been to Gen Con or Origins it's hard to visualize exactly what the dealer hall looks like. Basically, it's the Mall of America for nerds. Everything you could conceivably want to buy as a self-professed geek is there: shirts, dice, dice accessories, geeky food - it's all there. Oh, and probably the biggest attraction of all are the dealers themselves. Anyone who is anyone in our niche industry has a booth there with space to peddle their particular form of gamer crack. You'll find mega-booths like FFG, Mayfair and lots of other companies like Privateer Press and Z-Man Games just to name a very select few. My favorite stop while there? Why, the Wizkids booth, of course!

    But don't look for it this year.

    According to a few different sources (one of which you can find in this forum discussion at Gen Con's forums), WizKids doesn't look like they have a booth reserved in this year's dealer hall. According to their Facebook Event they'll be running some events, but there's no mention of them in the dealer hall. Nada. None.

    What does this mean for Dice Masters?

    I don't know - maybe nothing. But something in my gut (and it's not the Taco Bell) asks: is this a good move? Some marketing - in the form of events and through a loyal player base - is good. But no chance for passerby's to check out the awesome dice? No table to see the game demoed in all of its joy and beauty? Is this really a good move for momentum?

    I'm not WizKids CEO and I don't want to presume to know more than I do, especially about finances and marketing. But I would venture to guess that a spot in the dealer hall is far from cheap. I'd guess that WiKids has an easier time when they just have to worry about event space, and they were certainly able to showcase games and run demos from the event space at Origins.

    Not that I want to be guilty of overreacting, here. I likely won't be at Gen Con (although there's a smallllllll chance) so I'm not really asking for exclusive support or a nifty booth for my own purposes. I just hope that WizKids can keep up their momentum for this game we all know and love. So, if you are at Gen Con and plan to attend a WizKids event, tell them you're glad they came.

    What do you guys and gals think? Could this pose a problem to Dice Masters momentum, or will the popularity of the events (most of which sold out) take care of that?
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. gkpon66's Avatar
      gkpon66 -
      I was really hoping to see what they had planned. Hope they have plans to keep things going. Their booth is to entice new people in and rekindle the flame in those already playing. So I'll go with the positive thought that they are just regrouping from such a successful past year.
    1. Dave's Avatar
      Dave -
      I think that it's not a big deal. They only had stuff in their event space at Origins and were still able to present and demo and whatnot. LOTS of companies just focused on event space - Asmodee, Mayfair, AEG, etc, were all absent from the dealer hall.

      Also, I'd say that the exclusive right to sell your stuff when you have a booth is sort of annoying.

      Lauren wanted me to look for Tales of the Arabian Nights. Z-Man publishes that. Retailer booths told me that because Z-Man was there, only Z-Man could sell that game. Ok. I went to Z-Man and guess what game they didn't bother to bring with them? So I mean... yeah. I don't think it's a big deal and the popularity of the events speak for themselves.
    1. Ken's Avatar
      Ken -
      It's a bit disappointing they don't have a booth at the largest gaming convention in the world (see last year's discussion of turnstile vs. unique attendee numbers if you think I'm forgetting about the Essen fair), but not a biggie. Booths do raise your visibility quite a bit, but they have to make decisions on where to and how to concentrate resources and what they're doing has been working so far!

      If they had a booth, they'd have to make decisions as to if it were going to be an info-only booth or if they were going to run demos. Demos take more space, and more people, and as such are even more expensive, but they're the best! And if you can immediately buy the game right there, that's great too!

      Quote Originally Posted by Dave View Post
      Also, I'd say that the exclusive right to sell your stuff when you have a booth is sort of annoying.

      Lauren wanted me to look for Tales of the Arabian Nights. Z-Man publishes that. Retailer booths told me that because Z-Man was there, only Z-Man could sell that game. Ok. I went to Z-Man and guess what game they didn't bother to bring with them? So I mean... yeah. I don't think it's a big deal and the popularity of the events speak for themselves.
      Yeah, that's totally up to the publisher. CoolstuffInc is always at Gencon and is always selling lots of games there. Most publishers allow their stuff to be sold even when they're attending, but some do not. I *think* last year Iello didn't allow it, but CoolStufInc definitely had Z-Man games (I picked up a Carc expansion) and Z-Man always has a big booth (located in the same general location the past couple of years).

      Publishers often want to sell at full price at conventions to both make extra money, but also as a courtesy to not undermine the retailers (publishers can get copies of their own game cheaper than anybody else so theoretically could sell them for cheaper than anybody else). Sometimes retailers can be jerks about that though. Last year, there was a retailer directly west of the Plaid Hat booth--neighboring it right on the other side of the walkway--and I recall they deliberately turned copies of one of Plaid Hat's games (I think Mice and Mystics) to face Plaid Hat's booth and then put a prominent sign on the games showing a cheaper price than Plaid Hat was charging for it at their booth.
    1. Zeriphem's Avatar
      Zeriphem -
      Hi everyone. First time poster.

      I don't think it's too much to worry about. I mean when was the last time Blizzard was at E3? They seem to be doing just fine.

      I can only think of two possible reasons for them not having a booth.
      1. No AvX: It is kind of embarrassing when the Dice Masters flag ship can't be sold because they might not have any.
      2. The Pipeline: There could be something in the works they need all hands on deck for. I think they're still working on finding a new home for Heroclix Online, they're getting ready to roll out the next expansion on the Mage Knight board game, Dice Masters TMNT development, Heroclix TMNT development. Maybe we have an announcement coming in a couple months.
    1. ONEone78's Avatar
      ONEone78 -
      i recall being there last year and hoping to find some dice master product, at the time the only set out was AvX and UXM was on the horizon. all i found were some dice and cards behind glass on display. that was after the mob looking for the star trek attack wing promo ship was gone. what a mess that was. i was able to get into a single AvX sealed event which was fun since it had been the only time i was able to do that due to scarcity of product.

      WK not being in the dealer hall might not be all that bad. there were a number of companies outside of the vendor hall and in the event hall right next to it. it's honestly a nightmare at times to navigate the dealer hall. as big as the hall is it isn't big enough. for a company as popular as WK i could see having their space located outside of the dealer hall as a plus. they will have room to demo things if they want and the events will be run right there.

      i'll be there all weekend so i look forward to meeting everyone! i will also have my sweet dice bags with me if anyone wants to buy one. (shameless plug!)
    1. Randy's Avatar
      Randy -
      If I remember, WK revealed more Dice Masters stuff at SDCC than they did GenCon.
    1. Razorback's Avatar
      Razorback -
      I have not attended GenCon, but I'm a Star Trek Attack Wing player. Last year Wizkids really botched their STAW promo sales because they were understaffed and did not have an adequate quantity of product to meet demand. It left a very bad taste in players mouths and generated quite a bit of ill will. Dice Masters appears to be bigger than Attack Wing. They may have simply decided that if they couldn't adequately staff and support a booth, it was not worth having one.
    1. ONEone78's Avatar
      ONEone78 -
      yeah, that was a big botch. the friend i went with last year said he was going to try and get that for someone. i saw him later that day and i asked if he got one. he said he didn't even get close to the booth, there were so many people there. i was in line for doomtown :P