Gaming

GAMA Trade Show

Got back to Seattle last night from the GAMA Trade Show. We had a good time in Vegas, and a very productive show for Catalyst Game Labs — we heard a lot of good things about our current product lines, and a very positive response to the new games that we’ll be releasing later this year. I’m in meetings for the next couple days, and I didn’t get as much of a chance as I would have liked to wander the show floor, but I’ll probably post a bit more about the show soon-ish.

Stocking Books Sells Books

Last month I asked my local game store to order me a copy of Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition. I had read Savage Worlds years ago and wasn’t too interested in it, but with the relative popularity it still enjoys and the low price I figured I should give it a second chance.

On the 6th of March, I ordered it. On the 14th, I had a note from my FLGS saying that it was in. I finally got the chance to pick it up on the 29th.

My FLGS has a shelf behind the counter where they display the books and games that have been set aside for pre-orders. In the 15 days from the time he put that book on the shelf, he has taken 3 other orders for the exact same book, all from people who had no idea the book existed. The simple act of stocking one copy — and it didn’t even sit on the New Releases shelf — exposed it to enough people that they sold 3 more copies.

A few thoughts about this:

  • If the book had been on the new releases shelf and I had walked in and picked it up, those sales might not have happened — the customers that saw my pre-order copy may have never seen this fictional non pre-ordered copy.
  • The low price of Savage World Explorer’s Edition probably factored into the good conversation rate: Who thinks twice about dropping $11 on a book?
  • Providing “display/reader” copies to game stores would be interesting … but aside from Wizards of the Coast and perhaps White Wolf, I don’t think any hobby publisher could afford to do so on a regular basis for a large amount of stores. I think there’s probably a way to do it on a limited opt-in basis for the small [50-100] number of stores that would take advantage of such a promotion, but would that help grow sales in any appreciable way?

Treasure Chest on Facebook

My friendly local game store, Treasure Chest in Lethbridge, Alberta, has been relatively low-tech for a long time. They don’t have a website, but they’re on the web with a new Facebook group now. The store moved last year to a bigger and better location right next door to the old one, with a distinct play area and a nicer layout. I don’t get to hit the store as much as I’d like, but I’m happy to see it growing and improving even in these tight times for hobby gaming.

More News about Gen Con LLC bankruptcy filing

A few excerpts from indystar.com:

This year, Gen Con Indy is expected to attract 25,000 attendees who will spend more than $25 million on lodging and entertainment.

So the average Gen Con Indy attendee spends about $1000 dollars over the entire convention. That seems a little high to me, based on the number of times I’ve seen gamers discuss how they attend Gen Con as cheaply as possibly — it seems to be part of “gamer pride” to try and work the system as much as possible.

Indeed, in a statement issued Feb. 15, Gen Con said the “flagship” convention “remains a vibrant, profitable event” and will take place as scheduled from Aug. 14-17. The Chapter 11 filing won’t affect its other conventions in France, Australia and the United Kingdom, either.

“Gen Con LLC will continue to operate without interruption during this process,” the company said in a statement.

Seattle-based Gen Con said it had to file for bankruptcy in Washington state because of “significant unforeseen expenses associated with attempts to expand its core business to encompass externally licensed events.”

In the filing, Gen Con lists its assets and liabilities as each between $1 million and $10 million. It owes $748,956.81 to its largest creditor, convention services company George E. Fern Co. of Columbus, Ohio. Gen Con owes the Indiana Department of Revenue $116,858.70 in sales and income taxes, but Gen Con disputes that claim, according to the filing.

More on Gen Con LLC

Writing and Parenting Machine Matt Forbeck has some analysis of what’s going on with Gen Con Indy and Gen Con LLC. I’ve been super busy this weekend with a probably-not-about-to-be-secret-for-much-longer project, so I haven’t had much time to keep up with the public reaction to this announcement. I’m still looking forward to the Best Four Days in Gaming this summer, though!

Gen Con LLC files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

from http://www.gencon.com/2009/corporate/news-pr/releases/2008/2008.02.15.Press.aspx

SEATTLE (February 15, 2008) Gen Con LLC announced today that it has filed for Chapter 11 protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the State of Washington. This action became necessary as a result of significant unforeseen expenses associated with attempts to expand its core business to encompass externally licensed events. Gen Con’s flagship show, Gen Con Indy, remains a vibrant, profitable event. Gen Con Indy will take place as scheduled August 14–17, 2008, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The protections afforded by Chapter 11 will allow Gen Con to further its efforts to address its liquidity needs, preserve value for its creditors and explore strategic alternatives for the business. “Because the fundamentals of our business are strong; and because our debt problems are challenges mostly linked to one-time events, we feel confident that the profile of our company will benefit under Chapter 11 and come out strong in the end,” said Peter D. Adkison, CEO of Gen Con.

Chapter 11 refers to the section of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that provides for court-supervised restructuring of companies as they continue to operate normally. This proceeding is intended to help companies to become stronger financially.

Gen Con LLC will continue to operate without interruption during this process and looks forward to an expeditious resolution to the short-term challenges and the ability to focus entirely on producing Gen Con Indy, The Best Four Days in Gaming. International Gen Con events are unaffected by this situation and will continue to operate as scheduled.

About Gen Con

Gen Con, LLC produces the largest consumer fantasy, sci-fi and adventure game convention in North America. Itts operations include Gen Con Indy and licensees for European and Asia Pacific Gen Con shows. It was acquired in 2002 by former CEO and founder of Wizards of the Coast Peter Adkison, who solely owns the company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Gen Con is a consumer and trade experience dedicated to gaming culture and community. For more information visit the website at www.gencon.com.

Gen Con LLC sued by LucasFilm LLC

Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter, Esq broke the news on January 14th that LucasFilm was suing Gen Con, LLC. This news didn’t make it to the gaming world until a few days ago in February, when GamingReport picked it up and other sites began discussing it.

Unfortunately, The Reporter’s summary of the lawsuit [which was filed on January 8th, 2008] was a little terse, and various postings around the ‘net have distorted the case and claimed false things — all of which could be avoided if people had actually read the brief complaint. A fair number of people are saying that Gen Con owes $1,000,000 to Make-a-Wish foundation, and no reading of the lawsuit bears that to be true.

As I read it [and I bounced the complaint and the bullet points over to a legal pal of mine for clarification — thanks Daniel!], the complaints levied against Gen Con LLC are pretty simple:

  • Gen Con LLC entered in an agreement — the “Fan Convention Agreement” — to run Star Wars Celebration IV in May 2007. They paid a non-refundable advance, but Lucasfilm alleges that they did not follow through with proper quarterly accounting statements nor payment, and Lucasfilm is seeking approx. $500,000 in compensatory damages plus interest.
  • Gen Con LLC entered in a second agreement — the “Auction Agreement” — in which Lucasfilm agreed to provide items to the auction, with the proceeds of the auction going to the Make-a-Wish foundation. It is not entirely clear from the lawsuit if all of the auction proceeds or just those from the Lucasfilm archives were intended for Make-a-Wish.#1 Lucasfilm is seeking approx. $150,000 in compensatory damages, plus approx $150,000 in pecuniary restitution, plus interest on both. In other words: they want the money that would have gone to Make-a-Wish foundation, and they they want to be paid for the merchandise that Gen Con allegedly auctioned off inappropriately.
  • Lucasfilm is further asking for punitive damages to be proven at trial.
  • Lucasfilm is also seeking pre-judgement interest plus the cost of the lawsuit.
  • Lucasfilm has asked for trial by jury on all claims that may be tried by a jury. My understanding is that this is done because a jury trial is more expensive, and thus more likely to force Gen Con to settle, and due to the nature of the donations — the average person isn’t going to look kindly on anyone ripping off a major charity.

That’s the skinny: approx $800,000 in various damages, plus potentially more.

#1: Based on the following quote at It’s a Hit: A Record-Breaking Celebration IV, I’m led to believe that the Lucasfilm-owned items were the majority or the only items available at the auction:

Fans were a huge part of the success of Celebration IV, contributing to programming and events especially in the Fan Fair Hall and on the Star Wars Fan Stage. Star Wars collectors raised nearly $170,000 in four silent auctions and one live auction of vintage toy merchandise from the Lucas Licensing archives. The profits from the auction will be donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Thursday, Feb 24th edit: My bad; the name of the blog I linked to is The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. Also, the proper name of the suit is “Lucasfilm Ltd v. Gen Con LLC”