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seventhbeacon

Our L5R Store Orders At Risk?

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Firstly, I'm worried and not very happy about today's news regarding distribution. My local stores placed orders for me through Southern Hobby and now those orders are up in the air, considering the release isn't until after the August 1 transition date when all FFG stuff will be handled through Alliance.

I'm old enough to remember when Marvel tried to monopolize by making itself its own distributor. DC and Image went exclusive with Diamond, and all the other distributing companies ended up tanking, leaving us only with Diamond having a monopoly for all comics distribution. Diamond owns Alliance. So, I see the trend, I see the risks, and this only helps Asmodee's bottom line, NOT the gaming customers, as that press release claimed. Multiple distributors creates a healthy economic environment. One monopoly, especially for all FFG products (the company I buy the most gaming stuff from by a large percentage), is the opposite of healthy.

So yeah, I had orders placed. Those orders are now in limbo following this news, and if there's any allocation, or hiccups on Alliance's end (not unheard of), suddenly a lot of us are going to be sitting there waiting for a chance to play the game, especially competitive players.

Has anyone else checked with their local gaming shops regarding their pre-orders for L5R? Any that ordered thru a company other than Alliance? What has your store told you, if so? Mine are hopefully going to find out quickly.

Cheers.

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3 minutes ago, seventhbeacon said:

Firstly, I'm worried and not very happy about today's news regarding distribution. My local stores placed orders for me through Southern Hobby and now those orders are up in the air, considering the release isn't until after the August 1 transition date when all FFG stuff will be handled through Alliance.

I'm old enough to remember when Marvel tried to monopolize by making itself its own distributor. DC and Image went exclusive with Diamond, and all the other distributing companies ended up tanking, leaving us only with Diamond having a monopoly for all comics distribution. Diamond owns Alliance. So, I see the trend, I see the risks, and this only helps Asmodee's bottom line, NOT the gaming customers, as that press release claimed. Multiple distributors creates a healthy economic environment. One monopoly, especially for all FFG products (the company I buy the most gaming stuff from by a large percentage), is the opposite of healthy.

So yeah, I had orders placed. Those orders are now in limbo following this news, and if there's any allocation, or hiccups on Alliance's end (not unheard of), suddenly a lot of us are going to be sitting there waiting for a chance to play the game, especially competitive players.

Has anyone else checked with their local gaming shops regarding their pre-orders for L5R? Any that ordered thru a company other than Alliance? What has your store told you, if so? Mine are hopefully going to find out quickly.

Cheers.

Where is this news coming from?

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From Asmodee's FAQ, if I'm understanding it correctly, all new product coming out after August 1 must be ordered through Alliance. So I guess let this act as a friendly nudge to everyone who preordered to check with their stores and ensure their orders can be switched over as early as possible, in the offchance we risk another Star Wars Destiny-type logjam.

 

https://retail-cdn.asmodeena.com/filer_public/c2/9c/c29cb596-3247-449f-84e4-9717d734a5d5/ana_agd_faqs.pdf

Second question on the PDF.

Edited by seventhbeacon

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And Alliance has a pretty stinky track record dealing with smaller gaming stores. Which, is, uh, the vast majority. Including all the ones in my entire *region.*

If this sinks and reduces the number of distributors that can stay afloat, that means it'll also be harder for other gaming companies to get product out. And, eventually, even difficult for FFG and the others under the Asmodee umbrella. Bottlenecking distribution hurts the retailers and end users, and eventually bites the publishers in the a*s. So, uh, yeah, this is a big red flag.

Worse, Asmodee isn't doing any interviews with outlets about it until they announce their new "rules" at the END of this month. That's a whole month to throw things into chaos in the meantime. I've asked that my orders be updated, but if I see heavy allocation and other issues of product getting to us, or worse, my local gaming stores folding as a result, I have zero problem pulling the plug on my future FFG purchases.

Ugh. I'm gonna cool off. But yeah, if you're like me and you essentially subscribe to most of the LCG chapter packs, just be sure to check in with your shops of choice sooner than later.

Edited by seventhbeacon

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BTW, I've been talking to a large distributor, whom I will not name, but they've confirmed two things.

1) Product availability and pricing has not been confirmed yet and is not expected until July

2) The current scheduled release date for the product is "October"

So, anyone that is doing pre-orders, is doing so on a guess.

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Our local GS has already warned us that under this new system they will be having a much harder time stocking FFG Products and getting restocks in. That's probably more of an issue, because those of us who have placed preorders may know eventually we'll get our product, but if the stores can't restock, then it'll be that much harder to get newer players to buy in to the game.

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Many game stores are unprofessional clubs run by gamers that don't like running the business end of their, well... business. 

A store owner I know personally is grumbling about needing to move 100's of pre-orders but also likes that in the future he no longer has to hunt across a wide range of suppliers to get his ANA stock. Because hunt he did. He  is somehow able to get and keep in stock lots of games other stores struggle with because he actually learned how to do business. 

Your store owners need to do their darn jobs to earn your business. 

Most store owners bother to only set up a one or two distributor accounts, so it actually makes things quite easier for those types. 

Also allocations will be much better because ANA will actually know who is getting what product. FFG wants stores to stock their stuff, this will help them do that and prevent massive product allocations going through back doors to online retailers. 

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2 hours ago, TylerTT said:

Your store owners need to do their darn jobs to earn your business. 

Don't go victim-blaming here. Alliance has shown a clear bias toward larger stores and stores that order mass quantities over smaller stores that don't have as large a customer market (outside of, usually, MtG and whatever the Japanese card game fad of the time is). I've heard many times before, and again with this recent news, of Alliance being the most incompetent and/or intransigent distributor to work with. My main store here has been in business for nearly 30 years, and the guy there knows how to run it and do it well, so kindly keep your obnoxious insults to yourself. Capisce?

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3 hours ago, Tetsuro said:

Our local GS has already warned us that under this new system they will be having a much harder time stocking FFG Products and getting restocks in. That's probably more of an issue, because those of us who have placed preorders may know eventually we'll get our product, but if the stores can't restock, then it'll be that much harder to get newer players to buy in to the game.

Yeah, that's another concern I have as well. Growing the player base is vital, and while L5R has a built in fanbase from prior, not all will embrace the new gameplay or show up, and new fans can only try things if they're available to sell. I'll do what I can to make extra decks so they can test-play it, but yeah.

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6 hours ago, seventhbeacon said:

Don't go victim-blaming here. Alliance has shown a clear bias toward larger stores and stores that order mass quantities over smaller stores that don't have as large a customer market (outside of, usually, MtG and whatever the Japanese card game fad of the time is). I've heard many times before, and again with this recent news, of Alliance being the most incompetent and/or intransigent distributor to work with. My main store here has been in business for nearly 30 years, and the guy there knows how to run it and do it well, so kindly keep your obnoxious insults to yourself. Capisce?

"larger stores" or put another way "better/more important customers" that probably pay their bills on time.

I shop at both a big good store and a little struggling store, and i feel bad when the little store gets shorted on product orders and i wait for them to get product quite often. but the reality is there are good reasons for them to get allocated less than large stores. it's nor fair but it's life. thats the way things currently work.

This change will actually "hurt" the product allocations of "larger stores" because previously they used their influence to hunt for product across all the distributors to get a better allocation from all of them. now ANA will actually know how much of a product is going to a particular store and can ensure the large stores don't eat all the product and  small stores get enough product to support their games.

The back end of the industry in America is garbage in that it functions very poorly for everyone in it's current state and that everyone involved stands to benefit from an upgrade. big stores no longer have to hunt, little stores are likely to get better allocations, ANA will have more insight as to where their particular games are being bought and played.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, TylerTT said:

"larger stores" or put another way "better/more important customers" that probably pay their bills on time.

It's idiotic assumptions like this that make you a complete as*hat, Tyler. Sorry, but no. The implication again being that they are somehow negligent isn't true.

What IS true is that they are smaller, that the market isn't large enough in all areas that there are that many gamers for something that is a niche hobby, when most people aren't even aware anything outside of Monopoly and Checkers even exists. They handle larger clients. Yes. This does not make them better clients, nor does being a small store make the people running the store negligent or incompetent. Your arrogance is disgusting.

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just a little while ago there was a big dust up about miniature market sending an e-mail to their customers that they were hunting for more star wars destiny from lots of sources. directly against their online retailer agreement that they would only get product from a single source. how many little stores got their allocation robbed by that single giant.

This change fixes that.

This is change to a system that is obviously broken. sure some stores have bad blood with alliance, alliance had to play the same stupid allocation game as everyone else. now they have all the product and ANA wants to ensure it goes where it benefits them the most.  the marketing power of brick and mortar is important to them and they want to be on all the shelves possible.

 

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I'm not so optimistic, based on the last two decades of gaming, that your evaluation of access to the product is accurate. Less distributors doesn't mean a better experience, and frequently means a worse one. Less competition also hurts the market and the ability of storefronts to thrive. Alliance has not been the favorite supplier for any of the stores and owners I've known over the years. Now, when they f*ck up, and they WILL, there is zero recourse, just the same old "stores have to wait, potential customers/fans of FFG lose interest and move on."

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Another big part of this change is trying to get stores to actually pre-order product and for ANA to better forecast demand, think they should have built a bigger factory to meet the demand for star wars destiny? we all do, long after it could have helped them forecast that demand. most stores were very lukewarm about destiny before it launched, this did not help ANA know how much they needed. now ANA has people at alliance to talk with and work with stores. they can get a much better picture of what they will need to produce.

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The recourse for when alliance fudges up is for the stores to contact their ANA rep and let them know alliance is Fudging them. the announcement pretty much spells out how a retailer's relationship with alliance is also changing with this deal.

Ask yourself how do websites like miniature market exist and where do they get product? What other markets have anything near the product devaluation of hobby board games? thats because the distributors in hobby are leaky sieves and have all sorts of back room deals and partnerships with large online retailers. it's a broken industry, the "free market" does not really apply here. them choosing to go exclusive with a distributor is in fact the free market at work.

If I have a low opinion of stores that complain and whine know that I am likely not talking about any store that has been in business for more than a few years. and that yeah, when a distributor is allocating product, they are going to give it to people who have better records of paying bills on time.

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I would have to agree with Tyler that long term this will actually benefit FFG and thus the game as a whole as they can tighten up stock estimates and get a better handle on pre-orders.  Yes it can be a pain for retailers who don't have an account with Alliance but since most gaming stores also normally carry comics the majority of them will have a Diamond account which means they are at least used to working with the a wing of Alliance already.  Yes it will hurt the "big" online retailers as they can't leverage their size by placing orders with several different distributors to maximize the amount of product they get when there are allocations, but really I have no sympathy for them on that regard, and for most FLGS I don't see this hurting them that badly as really how many cases are they reasonably going to be ordering on the initial run.

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Until Alliance screws them over. The LCGs and games like X-wing, I don't think will be as much of an issue. Delays maybe, but the "get it RIGHT NOW" isn't quite there as with a CCG. 

I am extremely thankful I didn't get into Destiny now. Smaller retailers will be screwed over. And product will mysteriously be found in order to move stuff clogging Alliances' warehouse. 

So, once again, #!%@ Diamond/Alliance. 

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I personally would have preferred that ANA cut back to two distributers rather than one but:

Big Box Retail - B&N, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, etc. are part of a different distribution channel. Any product they order is part of a different system and does not effect quantity or availability of hobby store product.

Diamond - Alliance is under contact with ANA and Diamond does not (currently) comply with that contact. NO ANA product sales through Diamond allowed at this time. 

Web Sales - Companies that sell on line, from MM and CSI to a FLGS with a web cart, are part of a different distribution channel. Any product they order is part of a different system and does not effect quantity or availability of hobby store product.

Web + B&M - A company with web and B&M sales must keep inventories separate. MM can buy product for their storefront from Alliance. If that product gets sold online it is a breach of contract and ANA could take action.

Constrained Orders - The percentage of orders shorted from one warhorse will always be smaller than the percentage of orders shorted from two or more (five) warehouses for several reasons:
- One store can no longer order from three or four places expecting to get shorted and try to sell through.
- Better location or resources. taking 2 cases from an order of twenty to two additional orders of 1 case each is much easier then working out which account at which distributer can be adjusted to best support as many stores as possible.
- Dead stock, returns, and clearance sales should be lower as stores will not double order from multiple distributers.

Accountability - With one supply chain (for hobby sales) to watch over ANA can act on issues reported to them. If stores work with ANA then, most likely, there will be better availability at preorder and restock.

Direct Sales - As ANA now sells FFG, Asmodee, Days of Wonder, Cantan, F2Z, Plaid Hat and more it is much easier to buy direct if the store can not het good terms with Alliance. There are enough studios there that a store can make it worth while to have that additional time and shipment cost for a separate direct account.

There is more to this story that will be told at the end of the month.

Asmodee North America Goes Exclusive With Alliance
Asmodee North America to Go Exclusive with Alliance Game Distributors

Asmodee-Alliance Deal Follow-Up

Edited by Tekwych

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