There were a number of very good deals available before Christmas as a result of Black Friday and an Amazon Marketplace malfunction, however, the tide now appears to be turning. At the start of January, the newsletter from one of the UK’s leading specialist online retailers, BoardGameGuru commented:
“The UK’s largest games distributor has changed its discount structure for hobby games that are not best sellers. This is, in effect, a price increase and will result in a lot of older titles increasing in price when I restock them. For new releases there is an initital discount at launch, however prices may increase after launch stock has sold out. I will be doing my absolute best to keep prices down.”
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The distributor in question is Esdevium. Esdevium essentially have a monopoly within the UK and have recently been bought out by Asmodee who have, in turn, have merged with Fantasy Flight Games and Days of Wonder. Paul Bryant from GamesLore, another leading online seller confirmed that they are “being forced to do exactly the same” and commented that “the rise is considerably higher than our nett margin or we’d be tempted to try and ride it out”. Paul Lister from BoardGameGuru has indicated that most top titles will be unaffected as the discount structure for them remains broadly the same, however, the more niche items (e.g expansions and less popular games) won’t have the same discount structure as in 2014, so their price will increase. It seems that although there will be an initial discount during the launch period, costs will go up on restocking and this will inevitably be passed on to customers.
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So, what effect will this have on the UK boardgame market? It appears that the discounts available from online games stores will decrease, which means the price difference will narrow between them and “bricks and mortar stores” (which generally sell at the Recommended Retail Price or RRP). Does this mean that it is good news for games shops? Well, probably not. It is very difficult for sellers to charge over the RRP, so all that will happen is that the margins on a business with already tight margins, will be further squeezed.
What effect will this have on the boardgame market in the UK then? The good news is that the price of new releases from the main producers (e.g Fantasy Flight, Days of Wonder, Z-Man etc.) probably won’t change much; it will be the older games that will be most affected. Since older games will become relatively more expensive, it will probably bolster the second-hand market for “good games”. There will also probably be an increase in the number of language independent games that are imported from Germany by gamers “in the know”. Sadly, increasingly small margins and more buyers importing games privately may mean the end of the some smaller games stores. This is a great shame as the hobby is just on the verge of becoming more mainstream.
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