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The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche

 
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The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 7:00:40 PM   
Iain McNeil


Posts: 1955
Joined: 10/26/2004
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We have been reading some comments in our own forum and others with a great deal of interest and it strikes us that there are some misconceptions about our business model and where we stand on a number of issues. So, we thought it might be informative and interesting for you if we shared some of our thoughts. First thing we will say is that our policies and practices are constantly evolving, so the health warning here is that our current thinking can change at any time dependant on circumstances. For example, will the initial success that we are experiencing on the new tablet platforms be sustained? This and many other factors are constantly under review, especially where they relate to our very specific market sector.

We accept that inevitably we are regarded as part of the video games industry; however we believe that our business is quite different. Our audience is entirely focused on a particular category and style of game, so we totally accept that we are a hybrid, or niche business. We don’t mind the label, in fact in many ways we welcome this as we very much want to be linked or associated with our audience and the strategy wargaming world in all its varied categories, such as board gaming, miniatures, historical associations, re-enactors, fantasy, science fiction etc. etc. and significantly for us, keeping our games relevant to these diverse groups of gamers. What we have come to understand is that those who play these games generally look for a different, deeper, more realistic/accurate gaming experience; indeed as you are aware some of our games can take an entire evening to play a turn and some only 10 minutes. So we believe that both we and our audience are quite clearly different from the main stream video games industry and most certainly the mass market.

A factor that we think relevant to this debate is, do the rules that apply to sales of more mass market games, for example Call of Duty apply to us? Similarly do the rules that apply to hugely successful titles like Angry Birds apply? You might like us think we would have more chance of winning the lottery than building a business model on these particular examples. The sad truth is that middle sized and even larger Video Games Publishers that have not adapted to the new realities are now as rare as the Dodo. Think about it, other than major Publishers and the remaining few like us there are not many mid-sized Publishers left and certainly very few catering for our specific audience. A knock on effect of this is the closure of development studios. All of this is a direct consequence of the total melt down of video games sales at retail. It is now almost impossible to sell a stand-alone PC title at retail anywhere in the world, yes there are exceptions and in fact Germany is still a major retail territory for us, but unless you have a console sku, the PC market is now pretty well entirely digital. So drawing parallels or reference to past experience and what used to work in a retail environment may no longer be reliable or relevant. Fortunately, through Matrix we have been in the digital business for over 13 years and have accumulated a wealth of experience, data and records which certainly helps when building a business plan. In this brave new world many different business models are being tried, so it’s not surprising that deep discounting seems to be the flavour of the month to attract market share. Whilst this might be relevant to the mass market sector we do not think that this is a one size fits all solution and only time will tell if this is sustainable and who has got it right.

So where does that leave us? The size of our “niche” is substantial and is growing year on year, so niche does not mean declining or dying as some sceptics would have you believe. In fact volume sales for digital downloads increased 44% last year and we are still trying to take on board our astonishing success on the tablets. Every indication is showing that these numbers will be exceeded in the current year. Our customers are becoming ever more discerning, but are divided into various special interest groups. Other factors in this complex mix are that subsequently dropping prices penalizes early adopters and encourages a ‘wait for the sale’ attitude. Again, possibly fine for the mass market, but we will never punish our loyal fans in this way. So we have been experimenting with an early adopters discount on iPad sales, and then reverting to full price after an initial sale period. The exact reverse of the received wisdom. We also believe that when you sell someone an enormous game like Pride of Nations for next to nothing, they may have purchased for the wrong reason, are less engaged, or willing to invest the time it takes to understand and enjoy the game. The result is negative feedback or a lost customer as they would have been better directed to one of our lighter games to get started.

Now for the technical bit, we don’t accept that because an individual is not willing to pay a sustainable price for a game, it is necessarily a loss to revenue, we believe there is a flaw with that logic. In essence the number of units sold does not matter! What counts is the revenue achieved. For example selling 10,000 copies to our core audience will create a dedicated community, selling 100,000 copies to people who don’t get this niche, but bought “cause it’s cheap” will get us negative reviews and bad word of mouth. In this scenario real fans get shouted down as they are outnumbered. Our approach is different and aimed at growing our player base steadily. This approach is working and in fact sales of our back catalogue (games over 3 years old) are a significant part of this strategy, as often player’s start on the lighter games before digging in deeper.

So our argument is that losing a sale in volume terms is only relevant if it affects overall revenue. By dropping the price to what an individual is willing to pay, you lose the revenue from others who would have bought in any event as they value the product on its merits. The price drop is only sensible if there are enough purchasers tempted by the lower price to make up for the lost revenue. So the perception of an individual customer that this is a binary event is in our view flawed; some money at a low price vs. no money at the current price. The reality is that all this is far from binary and is a very complex big picture calculation, taking into account the buying patterns of millions of sales. Using our knowledge and experience, drawn substantially from our sales data we set the prices at sustainable and realistic levels taking all these factors into account and also factoring in our additional responsibility of making sure our developers get a reasonable return. We know with some certainty that there are not enough people just waiting till the price is dropped to make a purchase. Sure some will, but are they enough to make a difference, we believe not. So taking all of this into account you will see that our prices cover a huge range from $2.99 up to $79.99. In short we are a fairly unique business, with all the problems that entails. In essence our own records and data are our only reliable source of available information, but as we are entirely self funded it’s important to get it right and good advice is gratefully received wherever it comes from, so keep it coming we do listen and your comments often spark a good idea.

Another factor in this debate is the comparisons that are being drawn between us and the myriad of distribution companies like Impulse, GamersGate, GOG and Steam etc. It is certainly true that the revival in the PC market place has been phenomenal and in large part due to the success of Steam. However, we are not a Distribution Company. We are an honest to goodness Publisher with a very focused games line-up and target audience. Additionally, both Slitherine and Ageod are still heavily involved in Development of “our” sort of games and our knowledge and experience is freely shared with our Developer partners. PBMM++ and iPad development are examples of this.

Importantly though, we do have some firsthand knowledge of the Distribution business, but this is a very different business model from our own. Apart from Steam and making some sweeping generalisations most Distribution Companies will grab just about any title that comes their way, irrespective of who else is selling it. Developers provide the games as finished articles, ready for sale. For Distributors it’s then all about maximizing the size of the store by ramming in as many diverse genres and types of game as you can. It’s very much about grabbing market share and generally this is done by discounted sales promotions of one sort or another to attract customers into their stores, why else would you choose their particular point of sale to buy a game you can pick up anywhere. In this model it matters little which products sell and which don’t so long as you have enough of them to maintain sales levels. For Developers this can work for the right sort of product, generally where the game has mass market appeal, as here the more points of sale the better and the price is less important than the volume of sales in achieving sustainable revenue. In more specialist games however we believe that this model reverses.

In the past we did do a few distribution deals, but these are gradually being phased out as we focus all our efforts on our Developer partners. What this means in practise is that we work with our Developers from the earliest stage of development, often years in advance of release and seldom less than many months. We encourage new developers to sign up as early in the development cycle as possible, as our experience is that if we can provide advice at an early stage it can cut months from a project. Our role at this stage is therefore to work with Developers, giving feedback and the benefit of our experience to make their game as attractive to our audience as we can. Its heart breaking if the game has already gone too far to make these changes, often leaving a choice between delaying release for many months, or soldering on with a less than perfect solution. A Developers financial position rather than game issues can often dictate what happens next.

In addition we also provide or fund various assets or services as they are required such as, promotional activities, PR, marketing and advertising campaigns on a range of media, research, mission design and balancing, music and sound effects, manual writing, localisation, demo movies, artwork, web site forums and exposure, tech support, management and payment of third party suppliers, box art, movies or TV clips, age ratings, beta testing, Brand Licensing and porting services to other platforms such as the new Tablets, manufacture and sales. We also provide completely free of charge our “PBEM++©” and or Routing Server Services. Once a year we also invite our developers, who are close to release, to meet the Press at our annual Press Conference. The agenda allows for presentations, interviews and plenty of opportunity for our developers to chat informally to the press, each other and have face to face contact with our marketing and production staff. Usually we try to concentrate on members of the specialist press, who actually “get” these games, as there is little point asking for feedback or relevant review comment from the more mass market press. An amusing example of why comes from our press archives. In this particular review the reviewer simply did not understand the appeal of turn based strategy games, he felt the entire genre was dated and past its sell by date. The review headline was, “This Game is ****!” The remark was part of our learning curve. Suffice to say the game went on to become one of our top five all time best grossing games and the magazine is no longer in business.

Another and hugely important area of support is that we frequently support developers financially by way of interest free advances to support them till their royalties start coming in. This allows them to work on the game and draw a wage and or pay for artwork, music etc that they would otherwise not be able to afford. We currently have literally several hundred thousand dollars invested in this way. Obviously we are very careful about who and when this level of support is given, but without this many of their games would not see the light of day, but probably the biggest advantage that we offer is our community and Web Stores. It is without a shadow of doubt true that sales of “our” sorts of games are magnified significantly when sold through our stores. Our audience is pretty savvy, they know what they like and where to find it. From time to time we conduct research, like selling specific titles on other distribution channels, but to date this has been without exception disappointing. In addition we recently put Panzer Corps, one of our current best-selling titles, on Greenlight as we listened to comment in these and other forums and we were curious to see if it would improve sales. We are sceptical that it will improve sales, but we will be happy if we are proved wrong. We have received an enormous number of votes, but disappointingly more than half the votes cast have been to reject the game. Further evidence that we are not really part of the traditional video games industry.

So in the last analysis it’s important for us all to remember that if a Development team cannot make a decent return for literally thousands of man hours of work they will stop making these games. Then I guess the same people demanding deep discounts will complain that strategy games are dying. Someone in the forums mentioned it, but where on earth do you get hundreds of hours of entertainment for $30 and we figure it’s an important part of our job to make sure that the Developers gets a fair deal.

In summary, we are very much a niche business, part of the strategy wargames world selling products that are exclusive to us, with links to the Video Games industry. This unique combination of factors makes our business model indecipherable to many. What I will say is that the company continues to grow exponentially, with growth approaching 70% last year and on track for a similar pattern this year. As you have probably noticed we have been recruiting further specialist staff, not easy in any niche business, and there are now 25 of us running this business. We have offices in Vermont USA, Edmonton Canada, Milan Italy, Grenoble France and our head office in Epsom UK. So, just maybe despite all of the advice that we have been offered, it could be that we have stumbled along the right path.

Finally, an idea regarding sales of back catalogue from Tim Stone a reporter at RPS has a certain resonance, as coincidentally we have been looking at doing something along the lines he suggests. Firstly we have to hear back from our developer partners, as we don’t cut their prices without consultation and they may not be interested. So how about this for an idea, as Tim seems keen to help us. We host a promotion, sale of the week and run it in conjunction with RPS.

Thanks for reading and listening and keep the feedback coming, as I say we do listen and to confirm this we give you a list of responses to some of the points that have been made, don’t expect this every time but as I have said we do listen.

Regards and Best Wishes

Iain McNeil
Slitherine Group


Re Pride of Nations, Ageod and other postings; Our general response
• Control of where Pride of Nations and some other Ageod titles is being sold has unfortunately spun out of Control. The problem is that certain distribution channels will sometimes sublicense games to other distribution outlets without the knowledge of the Developer. It appears that this is in fact what happened to Pride of Nations. Consequently the game has been totally devalued and sold at ludicrous price points. Even worse, sales have not been reported or paid to Ageod from these sites. As you might well imagine we are tracking these down one by one to remove our products and end this practise. You can help here and if you see any of our products especially Ageod titles on sale, other than through our own sites or a Plimus affiliate, we would be very grateful if you would let us know.
• The game was release 1 year 9 months ago, not 3 years as has been suggested, which in our world is a fairly recent release. The fact is that these games have a much longer life span than the mass market.
• We did not increase the price, but matched the current price on the AGEOD site, which is the official RSP and typical for games of this type, any difference is due to currency conversions.
• We were not aware that the game was being sold at $1.50. This was certainly never permitted by AGEOD.
• AGEOD chose to leave Paradox of their own free will. Subsequently and mainly for the reasons outlined in this mail they decided to join us. They better than most understand the very specific differences that apply to this sector of the market.

Re Response to some of the other Posts

• A demo or not? It’s certainly true we don’t make a demo for every game and there are varied and complex reasons for that. As a general rule for games that you can pick up and get into quickly, such as Battle Academy or Panzer Corps we do make demos. For games that require an investment in time we generally don’t. Here we believe demos are counterproductive as more time, effort and exploration is needed by the player to get into the game than is generally allowed in a demo.

• We did not suggest Paradox have done anything illegal. Paradox has cooperated fully with us in the Ageod transition and has informed all of their distributors to remove Ageod games from their sites and or transfer reporting and royalties to us. We are aware however that certain Distributors have sublicensed the games to others and it is those who may be continuing to sell our games without permission. Anyone who legally continues to sell our games will be required to price match our sites.







< Message edited by Iain McNeil -- 4/29/2013 1:35:14 PM >


_____________________________

Iain McNeil
Director
Slitherine Software
Website http://www.slitherine.com
Post #: 1
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 7:31:56 PM   
Plain Ian

 

Posts: 181
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From: Dundee in Scotland
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Iain McNeil
• We did not increase the price, but matched the current price on the AGEOD site, which is the official RSP and typical for games of this type, any difference is due to currency conversions.

You matched the Dollar price. The £Sterleng price you increased from £15.99 to £21.59. Conversion cost = UK Pricing Strategy = Price Increase for UK buyers.... if they choose to buy through Matrix.


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Post #: 2
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 7:47:26 PM   
Josh

 

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"...We host a promotion, sale of the week and run it in conjunction with RPS..."

Great idea!
Some games I buy straightaways, say anything Vic (Advanced Tactics, etc) produces, or say Fall Out IV. Other than that I'm a sucker for sales, it works for me on Steam, probably will work on wargames as well. 


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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 8:06:23 PM   
shunwick


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Iain,

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to explain the company's position.

Best wishes,
Steve

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 8:07:58 PM   
wodin


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Joined: 4/20/2003
From: England
Status: online
Looks like Mr Stone has some sway.... He is a good man with the wargaming industry at heart.

A weekly sale sounds OK. Though not sure it will have an impact like the bundle idea would have with it's permanently reduced price on a wide ranging selection of games. Where a game on sale a week will hardly bring in the same sort of money\ cash flow. RPS isn't really a wargame hangout either.... I fear if the game they choose doesn't sell like hotcakes in that one week then that will be away to justify their current stance. Or maybe I'm just abit cynical...?

I haven't read all of Iains response...some bits I saw surprise me..yes they never said what Paradox did was illegal but hinted the pricing policy should be seen as illegal practice..so you know clever use of words I suppose. Most (Over at RPS)who read the whole thread felt Slitherine didn't come out of it well and it was poor PR all round.

Still thanks Tim!


< Message edited by wodin -- 4/23/2013 8:21:24 PM >


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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 8:41:20 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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Hi Wodin,

quote:


I haven't read all of Iains response...some bits I saw surprise me..


I'd strongly encourage you to read the whole thing through. I realize it's a bit of a wall of text but given your very active involvement in this discussion I think it would behoove you to give it a full read.

Regards,

- Erik


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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 9:10:22 PM   
Matti Kuokkanen

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Iain McNeil
• A demo or not? It’s certainly true we don’t make a demo for every game and there are varied and complex reasons for that. As a general rule for games that you can pick up and get into quickly, such as Battle Academy or Panzer Corps we do make demos. For games that require an investment in time we generally don’t. Here we believe demos are counterproductive as more time, effort and exploration is needed by the player to get into the game than is generally allowed in a demo.

Suggestion for TOAW3 demo: use the Korean scenario, but THIS TIME, include updated tutorial (would be good for full version too). As I recall it, TOAW1 demo doesn't have any kind of tutorial or other documentation to play the game, and save & load are disabled. If that seem like too much of work and stays as no go, at least add TOAW1 demo to download section of TOAW3 with some comment: "This is original TOAW1 demo, NOT TOAW3 demo!!!"

[edit]
One game review calls TOAW1 demo worthy of full priced game. High praise that

< Message edited by Matti Kuokkanen -- 4/23/2013 9:11:54 PM >


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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 9:35:39 PM   
vonRocko

 

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Thanks for writing that up. Good luck!

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 11:19:59 PM   
DBeves

 

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Excellent post and very interesting to hear some of what was contained in it.

What all these people blabbing on about sales dont realize is that sales work for steam and gamers gate because they dont make anything. All they do is stick product up on their store. they have nothing invested in any of those games and the fact is it doesnt matter to them what they sell it at because even if they only make a buck - that buck is pure profit in relation to what they have put into the game. It is a totally different concept to a publisher or a developer.

I totally agree that the sell 'em cheap (at least as far as the peope who make the games is concerned) model is not written in stone. You only have to look at the travel industry to recognize the long term fallacy of that model. There was a time when holidays were discounted the closer to the leave date you bought. It got to the stage when everyone simply waited till right before they went and booked. Now you will be lucky to find any holiday companies giving the same kinds of deals that were around a few years back because they know the model simply doesnt work. The same is true of airlines, most all of their prices actually now go up as the time to the flight gets nearer.

At the end of the day what I hope now is all the know it alls who think they know how to run a business and spout off about prices without actually having ever run a business or be in posession of any data or done so much as write a hello world program shut up and take it from those who have - and make a success of it - that they are not right.

The end of the day most all of em want is something for nothing or less than its worth.

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 11:34:05 PM   
tcarusil

 

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Good post. Too bad the discussion went on so long in a less than positive direction. Nonetheless I am sure all appreciate the hard work and effort you and your group of developers put in to keep us entertained.

Thanks

TomC

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/23/2013 11:46:37 PM   
Terl


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Thank you for the post Iain; very informative and well written. I like the sales idea too :)

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 12:57:02 AM   
RockKahn

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: DBeves

The end of the day most all of em want is something for nothing or less than its worth.


For the buying something for "less than it's worth" part, I hope you're exempting those of us that buy games when they're on sale. If the sale price isn't less than the product is worth, then the regular price would have to be more the product is worth, right?

I may be wrong. I have no education, experience or skills in marketing. From reading the Matrix forums, I feel I'm the only one.

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 1:37:04 AM   
dougo33


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Great post and very informative. I really wish (probably like you guys ) that this discussion would fade away. I bought PoN on release day and paid full price. I don not harbor any ill feelings after seeing it on sale. It is your product and you set the price (as will the market). I think this discussion has spun way out of control. My 2 cents. Sorry for upsetting people if I do.

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 5:24:46 AM   
flipperwasirish


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Erik Rutins

Hi Wodin,

quote:


I haven't read all of Iains response...some bits I saw surprise me..


I'd strongly encourage you to read the whole thing through. I realize it's a bit of a wall of text but given your very active involvement in this discussion I think it would behoove you to give it a full read.

Regards,

- Erik



I LOL when I saw that Wodin commented that he hadn't read the text, but still commented anyway.

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 7:42:05 AM   
Bonners


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Lots of interesting stuff to digest. As a new entrant to the genre there are a couple of comments I would make. I fully understand the niche bit, but it is a shame that occasionally more general articles dont get out there about these types of games. As a long term board gamer I just never knew that these games existed. A couple of years ago, a motorbiking buddy of mine suggested that I try to find a game called Steel Panthers, I then ended up stumbling across Panzer Corps and went from there. Meanwhile I was astounded that there was this whole genre that existed that I knew nothing about, all in the same genre as the boardgames I loved and still played of my youth.

So yes, I agree, niche product, but somehow the message does need to get out there a bit further. Although I am not a huge fan of the Steam outlet, I think it would've been good to get Panzer Corps on there, just to spread the word a bit that there are deeper games out there - shame this doesnt look like it is happening, IMO it sums up your initial comments about the mass market not necessarily 'getting it'.

On pricing, I dont necessarily have a problem with higher prices and a lack of discounts. Although Matrix as a whole is quite large, there are a lot of individual developers to think of. The really relevant point is just how long it takes to develop a game engine and then do all the historical research to bring out a finished game. Inevitably all new games will have bugs or balancing issues and it is the early adopters who will inevitably end up as a kind of post beta, beta testers. They shouldnt really be penalized for picking the game up early.

What is important is trying to get information out to enable potential buyers to get a flavour of the game. I realise demos arent always possible, but more stuff along the lines of developer diaries, better and larger screenshots, exerts from manuals and developer Q&As are all useful. Providing I pick the right game, then the cost is really irrelevant. If I make one purchase and get 6 months of game play out of it for £40, then that represents really good value, even if the game was already 3 years old when I purchased it.

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 9:50:08 AM   
Ashcloud


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Good post, I fully understand the position from a Developer viewpoint but TOAW3 wasn't developed by matrix and yet the price is very high - in South Africa it amounts to almost R400 (that is a hefty amount for an old game no matter how much content you get). Why so high?

Lastly, Steel Panthers World At War General Edition - how about a sale?

< Message edited by Ashcloud -- 4/24/2013 10:03:55 AM >


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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 10:04:01 AM   
Iain McNeil


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Some other interesting stats I didn't have time to put together yesterday. These stats are related to iOS

* Volume sales of our strategy/wargames on iOS increased 502% in 2012 compared to 2011.
* The growth in volume sales in the first quarter of 2013 compared to 1st quarter of 2012 is 352%. This growth is continuing and we expect it to be higher when major releases like Panzer Corp and Space Program Manager hit the app store.
* In value terms the increase is higher. In 2012 the value of all sales increased 3033% compared 2011. Yes I did say 3033%, or an increase of 30 times.

An increase of 44% on PC/Mac is very healthy but these growth figures are amazing to us. So while we do have some new blood on PC and Mac the main source of newcomers to the hobby looks very much like it will be on tablets.

Now we really have to move on as these games don't make themselves.

_____________________________

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Director
Slitherine Software
Website http://www.slitherine.com

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RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 10:23:21 AM   
Alchenar

 

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Is this growth across the board or is it focused on a few products?


e: I basically agree with everything written, but it isn't necessarily mutually exclusive with what Johan from Paradox wrote. The reason wargaming customers are generally only interested in wargames is because the vast majority of wargames produced are so terribly designed from an interface perspective that nobody else will touch them. To pick out an example; even the most ardent fans of WitP:AE are going to admit that the UI feels like it was designed by Satan as a punishment for wanting to play an interesting game.

It's the refusal to really see or openly accept accessibility as a solvable problem that I think I and others find particularly pernicious because it doesn't just shut out potential players, it means that current customers are stuck looking at interface design from the 90's.


e2: oh I also still disagree with the demo point. Even as someone who buys wargames I find it amazing that I'm expected to drop a lot of money on a game on a complete punt on whether I'll actually enjoy playing it or not. I was happy to buy Command Ops at price because I'd spent about 10 hours playing the demo over and over again so I could establish that the game was worth what was being asked before parting with my cash (and even then I was right on edge), but what I think was most important for the sake of this argument was that I incorporated the time spend playing the demo into the value/cost analysis I did for getting the game. In other words, those ten hours I got for 'free' counted in my head towards working out whether I'd get my money's worth from the game and actually pushed my towards making a purchase because to a certain degree I felt like I'd already gotten substantial value from the game without even buying it and that made me want to support the developer.

< Message edited by Alchenar -- 4/24/2013 10:54:35 AM >

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Post #: 18
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 10:55:38 AM   
Grimnirsson


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quote:

For games that require an investment in time we generally don’t. Here we believe demos are counterproductive as more time, effort and exploration is needed by the player to get into the game than is generally allowed in a demo.


I can only speak for myself and for those I know and I can assure you, you are dead wrong here. It does not matter whether the demo is a 100% insight into a game or just a glimpse because a demo is essential and the only way to decide for myself whether a game might be something for me or not. By running a demo I can see whether the game works properly on my notebook, how the interface is, is the gameplay something I might like, how's the gfx etc.. And all this I need to know before shelling out a good deal of money. I will never buy Distant Worlds for example, but have always wondered if I would like it. Probably yes, but I'm not sure and I'm not sure at all about the performance on my notebook. So, I don't buy it and never will. A demo would be the only way to change my mind. And what goes for DW goes for many games and I suppose for many gamers out there.

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Post #: 19
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 11:24:47 AM   
dutchman55555

 

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Glad to see Iain is willing (as always) to talk. I disagree with a number of statements/assumptions he makes in his initial post here, but I am not running a games company, I'm on the outside looking in. I'm unhappy with the iOS direction they are taking as I see it as the death knell of PC wargaming, but it's such a financially successful model that they'd be fools to ignore it.

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Post #: 20
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 11:25:33 AM   
Konrad_Novak

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Iain McNeil
A demo or not? It’s certainly true we don’t make a demo for every game and there are varied and complex reasons for that. As a general rule for games that you can pick up and get into quickly, such as Battle Academy or Panzer Corps we do make demos. For games that require an investment in time we generally don’t. Here we believe demos are counterproductive as more time, effort and exploration is needed by the player to get into the game than is generally allowed in a demo.


Iain, if you so "religiously" oppose the idea of demos for the majority of Matrix's games, why not make a couple of Youtube videos for each game (even old ones), extensively covering major aspects of gameplay? It will:
- take a minuscule amount of time (especially if you compare it to the time needed for demo-making),
- have a zero possibility of pirating the game in any sense known to man,
- give potential customers more than a general idea of gameplay,
- promote wargames among potential wargamers (people, which don't know yet that they're wargamers),
- as an added bonus, these videos can be made as a tutorial (Command Ops tutorial immensely helped me in learning the ropes of that gem).

Ok, there are a lot of amateur videos on youtube, covering many of Matrix's games. Unfortunately, some of them are downright boring and others have bad quality. A professionally made gameplay-heavy (NOT a teaser\trailer) video will go a long way toward promoting the game and highlighting its major advantages. Bonus points if the video is released before the release, thus aiding in marketing campaign.

If you're not willing to commit resources and time to making such videos, consider outsourcing the work to some of the fans. There are a lot of dedicated customers here, which love games they play, even if they're outdated. I think they will wholeheartedly support this idea and do these videos for free. Give them some guidelines of the "Ideal Gameplay Video" as you see it. For a more widespread effort, try rewarding better videos with discount coupons\free games\gift cards.

(in reply to Iain McNeil)
Post #: 21
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 11:47:10 AM   
JudgeDredd


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Read it.

Agree with some of it and hugely disagree with others - but it's your company.

Can I just ask/suggest a few things
1. Perhaps sales of iOS/tablet have increased because a) you don't sell them at the price you sell their PC equivalent(?) and b) the interface is so much slicker

2. Demos - they do work. Think what you like - and I take your point that you ask people to heavily invest time in a demo FOR it to work. But if a demo is done right it can work. The alternative which you are doing) is to ask people to take a punt on a game at £60 - which is a hell of an ask.

3. Your company needs more advertising. You just read a guys post on this very thread - he stumbled across you - as I did many years ago with Matrix and as many other likely do.

4. If your sales are up by such a huge margin - why in god's name are you holding on to archaic games at a large price

5. @DBEVES - you state people hold on for sales for holidays and flights. Have you been around when Matrix have their sale at Christmas. SO many people post about how they wanted a game but waited for the sale. So Matrix do suffer from people who hold off anyway. Perhaps what they should do is provide games at launch at a reduced cost to get early adopters or have random sales or reduce the price of their games when a sequel comes out. OOTP do it rather successfully I believe - and you could argue you can't get much more niche than providing ONE game (I know they do others - but OOTP is their flagship)

6. Why exactly is WitP £60+ when WitP:AE is £80? Sure - WitP is a huge game - but it's old and shows it in it's interface

Anyway - I'm done. Said my piece and you've said yours.

And DBEVES - there's really no point in talking down about people complaining about price. For a start - THAT is information ANY company would want - along with other feedback. Secondly - no-one was suggesting they know how to run a company better than Matrix. They were just saying "in their case" and that's all they can give. In MY case - a demo would work. In MY case, a very cheap game saw my entry into the wargaming world and helped me find Matrix Games and from their I've bought a fair few titles from them and other wargaming outlets.

And lastly - I don't think people want everything for nothing. The phrases you used like "blabbing", "know it alls", "spout off" and "most all of em want something for nothing" and "shut up" are exactly why those threads go on and on and on and bloat over into mud slinging

< Message edited by JudgeDredd -- 4/24/2013 11:49:58 AM >


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Post #: 22
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 11:48:43 AM   
Iain McNeil


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Agree completely on the videos - more videos is something we've been working on so expect more in future.

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Post #: 23
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 11:50:53 AM   
JudgeDredd


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Iain McNeil

Agree completely on the videos - more videos is something we've been working on so expect more in future.

^that is most definitely a step in the right direction to get exposure. But don't make it like your Panthers in the Fog teaser trailer pls

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Post #: 24
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 12:10:52 PM   
jday305


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As a recent newbe into the computerized wargames that Matrix and AGEod offers its good to see that it is a growing industry as I was a big fan of the old style counter-wargames in the 80's. I was a big fan of the Squad Leader series among others. Unfortunately, life gave me little time to set up and play these games through the 90's and soon lost interest. With discovering the computerize games like Advance Tactics and Decisive Campaigns, I have the best of both worlds; the style of games I grew up on in the 80's but the ability to play when I have the time and save the game for a later time. I would guess that part of the recent growth has been through oldtime wargamers like me who are rediscoveriing these games and also gettting tired of the current popular first person shooters. Though I will always enjoy the Civilation and Total War series, my future purchases will be more towards Matrix and Ageod games. Except, I have to say that I agree with Josh that any Fall Out games will be immediately purchased. LOL

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Post #: 25
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 12:18:09 PM   
wodin


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I didn't read all of it as I didn't have time..I just skimmed it...and what I saw was pretty much what has been said before. I understand their stance and it hasn't chnaged.

It took Tim Stone to do an article on it and that article was quite scathing..yet he got a thanks from Iain? I'm sure if I had posted something similar I wouldn't be thanked for it. I do know I'm see as abit of a trouble maker here..but honestly my sole interest is for wargamers and keeping the hobby going. I know Tim shares the same concerns. Maybe if I had lots of spare money I wouldn't comment at all..but thats unlikely because I'm not a "I'm allright Jack kind of person" and also I want the genre to grow or at least survive once all us 35+ wargamers die off..

The sale with RPS sounds good and Tim is waiting for contact from Iain.

Judge Dredd said I better than I can anyway.


As I said though and will state again I have no issues with new games and Slitheirnes pricing policy at all...it's only games like SSG's battles in series and as JD said WITP at such a price it makes no sense to me..For starters the SSG series games can't even do widescreen. The engines are dated but the games are great and finally they are well past their shelf life for constant sales. Who would buy WITP when for $20 you can get WITPAE? Now reduce WITP to around $20..watch it sell again and no doubt bring new people to WITPAE as they love it.

A problem we have to face is the aging population of wargamers..so new blood really is needed..and that means things have to be done to entice it in..so sell the old games cheap..people will take a risk..and viola your going to start getting new baby wargamers..which will help in the long run.

When I look at all those boardgame publishers..and wargame societies and especially the mini's genre there is a big market out there..what restricts it is no entry level price good wargames (this is where the old games selling cheap come in). People will be willing to throw some money on it..build the market up.





quote:

ORIGINAL: flipperwasirish


quote:

ORIGINAL: Erik Rutins

Hi Wodin,

quote:


I haven't read all of Iains response...some bits I saw surprise me..


I'd strongly encourage you to read the whole thing through. I realize it's a bit of a wall of text but given your very active involvement in this discussion I think it would behoove you to give it a full read.

Regards,

- Erik



I LOL when I saw that Wodin commented that he hadn't read the text, but still commented anyway.


< Message edited by wodin -- 4/24/2013 12:22:34 PM >


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Post #: 26
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 12:20:23 PM   
DBeves

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Ashcloud

Good post, I fully understand the position from a Developer viewpoint but TOAW3 wasn't developed by matrix and yet the price is very high - in South Africa it amounts to almost R400 (that is a hefty amount for an old game no matter how much content you get). Why so high?

Lastly, Steel Panthers World At War General Edition - how about a sale?


But what you fail to answer is why ? If I write to ferrari and tell them I really like their cars but they need to reduce the price before I will buy one what do you think they will say? You are not entitled to anything. Despite the fact that Matrix have told you repeatedly that their back catalogue still sells and at the moment at least their pricing strategy works - because they have the numbers to tell them that people still insist they are entitled to a discount. The price is so high because thats the price. What precisely is your argument for matrix reducing it when they have said as far as their business is concerned they dont need to.

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Post #: 27
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 12:29:43 PM   
wodin


Posts: 7963
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From: England
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DBeves..to bring new blood into the wargaming genre..which wont happen unless something is done..reduce the price of the old games (we can only take their word they sell...but I have my doubts there selling alot and to be honest I think their mainly concerned with the big sellers). You reduce the price of the old games at a price people will take a risk in forking out for..even those who have never bothered with the genre before. Thats how you get new people into the hobby..and when your new games come out at full price you have even more people buying them.

Slitherine say's it works..fair enough..but they have nothing to compare it too..they don't know what happens if they did drop the prices of the old games or sold them in bundles at a low price..maybe..just maybe..they suddenly see an upsurge in sales of those games..and also notice an upsurge in the sales of the newer games as new people get into the genre. Until they try it out they really can't say they have the better system. Which for a long term aspect I don't think they have..as we need new wargamers..and younger wargamers too..and they are out there. lads still enjoy war films..games like Panzer Corps and Total War sell loads..and I reckon a good amount of those players would enjoy the more indepth games. Our generation "35 upwards" isn't special in that only us who where bron at a certain time will enjoy wargames.

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Post #: 28
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 12:29:49 PM   
DBeves

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JudgeDredd



And DBEVES - there's really no point in talking down about people complaining about price. For a start - THAT is information ANY company would want - along with other feedback. Secondly - no-one was suggesting they know how to run a company better than Matrix. They were just saying "in their case" and that's all they can give. In MY case - a demo would work. In MY case, a very cheap game saw my entry into the wargaming world and helped me find Matrix Games and from their I've bought a fair few titles from them and other wargaming outlets.

And lastly - I don't think people want everything for nothing. The phrases you used like "blabbing", "know it alls", "spout off" and "most all of em want something for nothing" and "shut up" are exactly why those threads go on and on and on and bloat over into mud slinging


Well - your entire post was basically, again, ignoring everything someone who is running a games company said and simply stating he is wrong about most everything. So - suggesting you do know how to run a games comapny better than matrix is entirely what you were doing.

And my language refelcts entirely what I think those people are doing - and it seems to me your view of "talking down" is directly related to the fact I disagree with you. You are doing exactly the same only from the opposite point of view. your entire rationale is to ignore everything the people who have the numbers say and simply say they are incorrect.


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Post #: 29
RE: The Good Health of the Wargaming Niche - 4/24/2013 12:34:41 PM   
Ashcloud


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Good point, I guess we are not entitled to anything as they are a business trying to turn a profit. Would be nice though, and I also want an Age of Rifles remake - might as well ask, never get anything if you don't ask...

So, I guess that is the point of my post - you don't ask you don't get, if you do ask you might on a minuscule level influence someone to give you what you want.

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