As much as I tried to control myself this year, I find my preorder/Kickstarter/P500/Pay Later/Gamefound list keeps growing.
[nvb. The first draft of this post had 31 games totaling $1822.95 in value on preorder. That figure gave me pause and forced a reconsideration of what I was doing. As you will see below, my list is down to only 19 items with a value of $1117.95, a “savings” of $705.00. I’ll explain more below.]
By the Numbers
- Total Number of Wargames/Boardgames on Preorder – 19
- Total Value of Preorders – $1117.95 (excludes shipping costs)
- Average Cost of Preorder – ~$60
- Most Expensive: $150 pre-order discounted (Red Strike, VUCA Simulations)
- Least Expensive: $18 (Next War Supplement #3, GMT Games)
- Different Publishers – 8 (Canvas Temple Publishing, Catastrophe Games, Compass Games, Dietz Foundation, GMT Games, RBM Studios, VUCA Sims, Worthington Games)
- Most Preorders with Single Publisher – 9 (GMT Games P500)
- Oldest Pre-Order (Months) – 34 (Next War: Supplement #3, GMT Games)
The Great Game Cancellation of 2022
As I said above, I started out with 31 games on this list at a value approaching $2000.00. I could easily say, “Well, it’s all funny money because it’s almost all pledges that I can cancel later.” But after a few days it really got to bothering me. Why?
I feel (fear?) that I was becoming a victim of two gaming diseases: Cult of the New (CotN) and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). When I saw a game on preorder that interested me I just “had to” order it (CotN) because I just “had to” have it (FOMO).
The truth to the matter is that I am growing weary—and increasingly frustrated—with the preorder systems as they exist right now. This reflection in 2022 forced me to look hard at my preorder self and, frankly, I don’t appreciate how several game publishers work. Do I have a better process? No, but I feel better not committing my money away. So I cancelled 12 preorders (-38%).
Now before the publishers get all huffy and accuse me of making them “print and then not get payed” let me assure them that I didn’t cancel any order that I judge might be delivered within the next 90 days. In GMT Games-terms that covers games “At the Printer” and later in their process. However, games not at that stage of development, or with projected delivery dates over 6 months away, well, they were fair game to be cut.
I can also assure the publishers that the judgement call was based on how I perceived the progress of those games. If I “misjudged” there is a very high probability I did so because the publisher was NOT good at communicating the status. My message to publishers is, “TALK TO ME AND BE REALISTIC!” Some are better than others; you need to look at yourselves and judge if you are doing a good job…or not.
Some will push back on me. They will say, “Hey, you’re punishing the publishers when it’s not their fault since they use outside designers that work at their own pace.” Yes, you’re right.
Am I going to miss all 12 of those games? There is a high probability that I will eventually order maybe eight or more of those 12 games…but between now and whenever “then” is I will reevaluate how I really feel about putting my money down. This means I am going to have to adopt a new preorder strategy.
New Preorder Doctrine – ‘Wait-Look-Shoot’
Common to every publisher will be the start of my Preorder Doctrine – Wait. I will ‘Wait’ and not order immediately. After that start, I will need to tailor the Doctrine for each publisher or retailer.
GMT Games P500
In the future, P500 preorders will require a bit of some strategy since they need 500 pre-orders to “Make the Cut” but the total volume of preorders seems to have little to do with where it goes in the production cycle after that. I will likely pledge for new games that I would maybe like to see (‘Look’) printed but once it is safely past 500 go ahead and cancel my preorder. GMT Games has pretty good comms (I’m on their mailing list) so when a game gets closer to charging they usually let customers know before the P500 price goes away and I can make the decision to purchase then (‘Shoot’)…or not.
Compass Games Pay Later
I cancelled several Compass Games titles (I would have cancelled maybe one or two more but I ordered them incorrectly and did the Pay Now version…two years ago). For Compass Games I am less worried about “missing” games in the future as the number of preorders seems to have no visible impact on production schedules. When a game is close to printing Compass Games throws it up on Kickstarter (‘Look’) at the same preorder price. Again, I can make the decision at that point if I want to purchase or not (‘Shoot’).
Multi-Man Publishing Preorder
The last cancellation was a Multi-Man Publishing title that I was mildly interested at the time I first saw it but since then have grown less excited. Plus, it was not scheduled until at least late 2023…at best. Like the other companies it appears that the number of preorders has little influence on where the game sits in the production schedule and when one gets close to shipping they usually let the customer know (‘Look’). Once again I can make a choice then (‘Shoot’).
In the event I miss out on a game I still have the option of working with my FLGS or F(Online)GS. I discovered this year that my FLGS often goes in on Kickstarters and I can help them get some business by supporting a KS through them. I also know an online seller that usually gets games and sells them at preorder prices, often for a long time past when the publisher preorder pricing ends (‘Look-Shoot’). Even with shipping costs thrown in the prices can still be competitive.
Will my new preorder strategy make wargame publishers happy? Probably not. But then again I’m unhappy with the extended production timelines. In one case a game, now cancelled, languished on my preorder list for 39 months with at best 12 more to go. Four years on preorder? Do they really expect my interest to sustain that long? Nope!
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