GAMA Trade Show 2013 Report 1

GTS 2013 is over and I survived! After two days of seminars, meetings and exhibitor floor haunting I now stand ready to pass on the highlights of my trip. Before I get into specifics I feel the need to share a few observations about the show.

Though the exhibitor count was similar to last year I felt attendance was up. I have not heard any specifics but the exhibitor hall and game night felt crowded.  This is a good indicator that the retailers are seeing some economic growth. Struggling retailers do not fly to Vegas for a trade show.

There were also many fresh companies at the show and that is always good news. Sure, giant game companies have the big name releases, but small companies tend towards the creative and cutting edge games.  I found a couple of small publishers with some really interesting games that we will cover over the next few days.  I know you will find their games as fascinating as I did.

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I have also determined the company that will win the not-so coveted Livingdice Pick of the Show Award for their offerings at GTS. It was a tough call, but this company deserved it. It is a controversial choice, so I am expecting hate mail. Look for this post in the next few days.

All was not perfect though.  I saw many bad vendor booths, even worse game pitches (breath mints for the love of God!) and a zero strategy “roll dice and move” board game that would bore a three-year old in 20 seconds. Sadly, I really liked these earnest, dedicated game developers. It is much easier to go rhetorically  nuclear on jerks. These examples and many others were nothing but pleasant and truly wanted to share their new game with the world and me. I am making a command decision to simply not name these companies.  In the near future I will post a “how to sell me on a  game at a trade show” column for game companies and hope that others learn from the mistakes I saw.

Today’s post will cover the seminars I attended at the show. Tomorrow will be the first day of the  exhibitor booths reporting.

Wednesday started with Mike Stackpole presenting on the value of social media. Given I am very adept with the web already there was really nothing new here, but it was valuable information. Especially his focus on maintaining a relevant, positive message on your social medial interactions and managing  bad reviews and the press.

After Mike, I moved to the Wyrd Miniatures seminar. Wyrd is putting out a new version of “Puppet Wars” with plastic miniatures and revised rules at a $75.00 MSRP on April 13. Here is a shot of the new miniature spru

 

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A reprint of “Evil Baby Orphanage” is also due soon with a $17.00 price point.

Strangely, no mention of specifics for the Mailfaux RPG. Not to worry, I went to the booth and squeezed them for information. Look for this in a future post.

 Fantasy Flight

Fantasy Flight had a seminar entirely dedicated to their “Star Wars” license.  This includes the X-Wing miniature game and the “Edge of the Empire” RPG. FF really talked up the wild success of the X-Wing game. First printing sold out, 1000% increase in organized play and the next wave of miniatures in the pipeline, etc. Sorry, they gave no specifics on the next set of miniatures. In fact, it became a running joke in the seminar because every time a question touching on a potential future product came up the presenter evaded with a “no comment.”  One question in particular about a potential 25mm miniature skirmish game (like D&D Miniatures) for the Star Wars universe drew a “cannot comment” response, but the presenter’s body language spoke volumes. Worst poker face ever!  I believe, but cannot prove that something is in the pipeline.

The Star Wars RPG’s future also became clear. This year is bounty hunters in  “Edge of the Empire.” 2014 offers a new set for rebels called “Age of Rebellion” and 2015 brings “Force and Destiny” to play Jedi. They went into great detail about how each is a different experience and feel and how “Edge of the Empire” is a true introductory RPG for people with no experience. I saw a great marketing scheme that forced players to buy each supplement separately to get very popular, more powerful character types (rebels and Jedi).  FF also talked about release information for the deck-building SW game, which will have one big yearly release.

FF also taught me a new word “Alpha Gamer” to describe the unofficial leaders at a retail location. Interesting that someone finally noticed that tastes are often driven by a small pool of hardcore gamers.   FF also had the slickest presentation with lots of video graphics. High points for professionalism from this company. They know how to sell!

Ok. tomorrow the trade floor reporting begins!

Trask, The Last Tyromancer

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trask

Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.