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Markspinner

FFG Being FFG Again

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I have a Marvel subscription from Team Covenant and just got an email that FFG did not allocate enough product to its retailers, therefore my order would be delay 4-6 weeks. 

FFG is becoming experts on killing their own products.

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I don't really get why the initial print runs have been so small for this game - Arkham has been a runaway success, and that's with a niche IP and setting and a heavy and fiddly game. 

What did they think would happen when they made a streamlined, accessible version, attached to arguably the world's biggest IP? 

It seems like the products so far have been in distinct print runs:

  • Green Goblin, Ms Marvel, Cap America
  • Wrecking Crew, Thor
  • Widow, Strange, [June Pack]

If Wrecking Crew is in short supply, then Thor will probably be limited too. 

Hopefully Widow etc went to print after the game's release, so maybe going forward these supply issues won't be a problem? 

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Ffg does it with every game... the start of arkham horror Lcg was a horror... very hard to get products.

Be happy! It means that this game seems to be popular enough to have at least some expansions!

Edited by Hannibal_pjv
Typos

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Hearing of severe lack of supply and heavy allocations in the UK. GameWorlds, which offers a subscription service got just over half of what they ordered and are now cancelling all their subscriptions for Marvel, because they cannot in good conscience actually offer that service. 

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We've had a very small amount of product in the uk, I've literally only got the core set. Cant get any of the expansions. People are liking the game, but lack of product support promotes lack of interest. 

It does my head in, we keep seeing new expansions being announced, but no product from the last release. I know FFG does this regualry, but this has been worse because of the amount of interest in the game. They really need to look at the sales team  because they will lose people. Failure to support product and failure tie up contracts (nettruner) will kill the company off imo. It's got a good rep for creating amazing games, but a really bad rep for lack of support to its customers.

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1 hour ago, Radix2309 said:

Killing the game? Magic wasnt able to meet demand for over a year when it started. The game didnt die. What almost caused the game to die was overproduction of Fallen Empires once they finally were able to meet demand.

Being sold out does not kill a game. Arkham is still very healthy.

That is true.  However, Magic had the advantage of literally being the only game of its kind when it started.  Champions isn't.  That just means it needs to be better to succeed, but it is something to bear in mind.

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On 1/30/2020 at 2:52 PM, Markspinner said:

I have a Marvel subscription from Team Covenant and just got an email that FFG did not allocate enough product to its retailers, therefore my order would be delay 4-6 weeks. 

FFG is becoming experts on killing their own products.

Today's TC podcast addresses this very issue. Worth a listen!

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Why not just order direct from FFG?  I know this takes out the FLGS idea but TC isn't a FLGS unless you live in Tusan.  I love TC I own all their tokens but if you want to be guaranteed a copy then just order from FFG directly.

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On 1/30/2020 at 2:52 PM, Markspinner said:

I have a Marvel subscription from Team Covenant and just got an email that FFG did not allocate enough product to its retailers, therefore my order would be delay 4-6 weeks. 

FFG is becoming experts on killing their own products.

How does this even happen? Wouldn’t each retailer/Individual order be fulfilled in the order it was received?

ie shouldn’t the print run be: Pre-orders to FFG + some guesstimate by FFG?

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On 2/1/2020 at 6:49 AM, Radix2309 said:

Killing the game?

Yes, because you and I are not the main customer base for the game. FFG sells mostly to distributors, they in turn sell to shops and when they can't get what they need they reduce their next round of orders, cut back on the promotion and in store presence of the game and just push games they can make money off. 

They make zero of games they can't get and eventually they stop getting more of it, so stuff ups like this just eat away at the good will FFG has with the stores. 

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On 2/1/2020 at 6:51 PM, Derrault said:

How does this even happen? Wouldn’t each retailer/Individual order be fulfilled in the order it was received?

ie shouldn’t the print run be: Pre-orders to FFG + some guesstimate by FFG?

Team Covenant has a podcast where they are pretty candid about the process of distribution and allocation.  According to them you don't need to have your numbers in until a week or two before distribution starts filling orders.  Since retailers can change their numbers so late in the game demand can change radically for a product. If the demand outnumbers the stock they go to "allocation", which is a process by which the distribution fulfills a flat percentage of all the orders to each retailer to meet the current supply.  Evidently this "allocation" occurs regardless of the time the orders were placed.  So unless you have some special relationship or agreement between you and the distributor you have no way to ensure you get the quantity you ordered.

They consider this uncertainty in the industry to be the big thing holding the industry back from growing and maturing.  Though they have no clear answer on how to fix it since this last minute announcement and ordering of product ties all the way back to the way the publishers build hype and print product so it's a symptom of a system that needs to be overhauled evidently.  At least that's the impression I get from listening to them.  They sounds just as frustrated as us.  They say they do everything they can to avoid this situation and cut off preorders before they get to the point of allocation, but this is the second time they were caught off guard with low supply on a product for the LCGs.  Normally they have a good track record of anticipating shortages.  My understanding is they do that by being proactive in their communications with the distributor.

Add:  Will this kill Marvel Champions?  No, but it will stifle it's growth.  I'm sure more than a few prospective customers will just move on to another game if they get too frustrated trying to find product.  If it becomes habitual the game will start to get a reputation.  This has definitely happened with most LCGs in the past, and I do think it has systematically stunted the growth of those game.  Eventually the demand and supply normalize once the game more or less finds it's audience.  So we'll stop having these conversations.  That said if FFG over anticipates demand that's an even bigger problem as TC goes into in their podcast since the costs of printing and warehousing that unsold product can be disastrous for a company.

Edited by phillos

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1 hour ago, phillos said:

Team Covenant has a podcast where they are pretty candid about the process of distribution and allocation.  According to them you don't need to have your numbers in until a week or two before distribution starts filling orders.  Since retailers can change their numbers so late in the game demand can change radically for a product. If the demand outnumbers the stock they go to "allocation", which is a process by which the distribution fulfills a flat percentage of all the orders to each retailer to meet the current supply.  Evidently this "allocation" occurs regardless of the time the orders were placed.  So unless you have some special relationship or agreement between you and the distributor you have no way to ensure you get the quantity you ordered.

They consider this uncertainty in the industry to be the big thing holding the industry back from growing and maturing.  Though they have no clear answer on how to fix it since this last minute announcement and ordering of product ties all the way back to the way the publishers build hype and print product so it's a symptom of a system that needs to be overhauled evidently.  At least that's the impression I get from listening to them.  They sounds just as frustrated as us.  They say they do everything they can to avoid this situation and cut off preorders before they get to the point of allocation, but this is the second time they were caught off guard with low supply on a product for the LCGs.  Normally they have a good track record of anticipating shortages.  My understanding is they do that by being proactive in their communications with the distributor.

Add:  Will this kill Marvel Champions?  No, but it will stifle it's growth.  I'm sure more than a few prospective customers will just move on to another game if they get too frustrating trying to find product.  If it becomes habitual the game will start to get a reputation.  This has definitely happened with most LCGs in the past, and I do think it has systematically stunted the growth of those game.  Eventually the demand and supply normalize once the game more or less finds it's audience.  So we'll stop having these conversations.  That said if FFG over anticipates demand that's an even bigger problem as TC goes into in their podcast since the costs of printing and warehousing that unsold product can be disastrous for a company.

This makes it seem like the main problem is retailers waiting until the last minute to place large orders. Ie this could be resolved by saying: If you place orders earlier than 1 week out, it’s guaranteed, if you place it later than, you get whatever is left, or have to wait until the next shipment if we’re already at capacity. 

edit: It seems weird that this wouldn’t already be the system in place. 

Edited by Derrault

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Well if they get their numbers in early like TC does then according to TC that makes no difference for "allocation" so the retailers aren't to blame if they are using the system as it's implemented.  I think the whole problem stems from a risk averse production/supply chain.  Distribution probably wants to solicit as many orders as possible to ensure their stock runs out.  The publisher wants to try and print exactly the demand from the distributor if they can estimate it. 

The opposite where demand is accurately gauged prior to printing and distributing is exactly what the Kickstarter model is implementing if you think about it.  Though there are pitfalls there as well.  In the Kickstarter model you announce and hype your product sometimes years ahead of it's release.  In the interm that hype will die down.  So is there much of a retail life after that initial delivery?  I think we've definitely seen there's a significant drop off.  Then in addition you carry your audience through all the potential issues with development, production and distribution.  Normally this is invisible to the audience, and experiencing it can erode hype for the game (and even build resentment against the designer/publisher).  As the traditional (non Kickstarter) system stands now, that system is all built to hype products as much as possible.  Your customers see the gencon announcement, and they get hyped.  Maybe some get an advanced copy, which leaks previews and reviews out to the general audience and again builds hype.  Then hopefully you get a big response on the commercial release at the retailers in the lead up to Christmas.  If there is product shortage and the reprint wait is not long that can even have the effect of building hype potentially.

It's an interesting problem, and I'm sure the solution is somewhere between the two extremes we currently see in the industry.  Can we see some future system were demand can be properly estimated such that production and distribution can be right sized for the consumers?  Can that happen without killing hype or requiring an advanced financial investment from the consumer, which in itself carries a risk for the publisher?

Edited by phillos

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1 hour ago, phillos said:

They consider this uncertainty in the industry to be the big thing holding the industry back from growing and maturing.

I absolutely agree.

I've mentioned before, I came to board gaming after already being a video gamer. In fact, two big VG titles I've been waiting for to drop in the next couple of months have both been pushed back to September (Cyberpunk 2077 and Avengers). They don't have to give details, they just let it be known that the games are going to be late. Everybody says "bummer" and then goes on with their lives. At least they tell us about it.

Board game companies, on the other hand, rarely even seem to do that much. Even getting a release month out of them is almost like pulling teeth. I've had a couple of games I've been watching where I didn't even know there was an expansion until well after the expansion had been released; no press releases on their website about it. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Board game companies just don't talk to their customers and it's really annoying if you're used to even a little bit of communication.

I can't say I know how to solve the entire supply-side problem, but I think most of the issues that come with board gaming and uncertainty can be mitigated with a bare minimum of communication.

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I suspect the main issue is the problems with overseas printing in China.  It seems like it causes alot of logistical issue for the publishers, and causes them not to be as agile as they need to be to support a more deterministic release schedule.  That said I agree it feels like communication from the publisher should be more forthcoming.  It's upsetting that customers who preorder a product don't find out that their preorders will be cancelled until after the product release date.  That's a real feel bad moment.

I wonder how much they know before the shortage happens if distribution is such a last minute affair.  that said FFG must have been proactive in reprinting Wrecking Crew ahead of the issue (due to the increased demand from previous products) considering another printing is expected in March. They would have needed to start those wheels in motion a long time ago.

That said as Derrault suggested you'd think there would be some system in place with the distributor to say orders placed prior to this date are locked in and orders after are subject to allocation.  That doesn't happen.  I wonder why that doesn't happen.  Seems that would reward the retailers doing the promoting and soliciting preorders.  Therefore the distributor gets a better gauge on demand and can kick that up to the publisher earlier, which in turn allows them to kick off reprints faster.  Certainly from a consumer's perspective you'd expect your preorder made months ago to get fulfilled before some lucky guy walking into an FLGS the day of release can find a pack.  It's weird that that doesn't happen.

Edited by phillos

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1 minute ago, maniakmedic said:

At the moment I'd settle for an updated FFG Live schedule for this month. I want to know when the official Doctor Strange reveal is.

There's a Champions stream scheduled for the 4th so we don't have to wait long.  It is labelled new hero announcement.

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6 minutes ago, phillos said:

There's a Champions stream scheduled for the 4th so we don't have to wait long.  It is labelled new hero announcement.

Ah, I see I missed the schedule announcement on the 31st. I just skipped it because it had a big picture from Keyforge above the title.

Anyway, hurray!

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57 minutes ago, maniakmedic said:

Ah, I see I missed the schedule announcement on the 31st. I just skipped it because it had a big picture from Keyforge above the title.

Anyway, hurray!

That’s why I check on their live updates obsessively :)

Just played She-Hulk Aggression VS Wrecking Crew, side A. I love that it was such a departure from the first 5 villain schemes, requiring a lot of juggling forethought to try and manage which of the 4 is the active villain.

She-Hulk is just so perfect for this scenario with her Do You Even Lift? damage whittling down Piledriver in a timely fashion.

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37 minutes ago, Derrault said:

That’s why I check on their live updates obsessively :)

Just played She-Hulk Aggression VS Wrecking Crew, side A. I love that it was such a departure from the first 5 villain schemes, requiring a lot of juggling forethought to try and manage which of the 4 is the active villain.

She-Hulk is just so perfect for this scenario with her Do You Even Lift? damage whittling down Piledriver in a timely fashion.

I tend to check obsessively, too. They haven't updated the FFG Live link at the bottom of the main page. It still goes to January's schedule.

And how do you have Wrecking Crew already?

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3 hours ago, maniakmedic said:

I tend to check obsessively, too. They haven't updated the FFG Live link at the bottom of the main page. It still goes to January's schedule.

And how do you have Wrecking Crew already?

It arrived today, so I played it. They shipped on Friday of last week. 

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On 1/31/2020 at 6:54 AM, Hannibal_pjv said:

Ffg does it with every game... the start of arkham horror Lcg was a horror... very hard to get products.

Be happy! It means that this game seems to be popular enough to have at least some expansions!

They didn't do that with Android Netrunner. My LGS always had packs. Every time I'd ask they had the packs I needed. 

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