Why can’t MMP use Kickstarter? What can’t MMP keep everything in print? And other everyday questions.

MMPA lot of us has been frustrated with chasing after out of print ASL modules at some point in our ASL’ing lives:

Why can’t MMP use Kickstarter?  

Why can’t MMP keep everything in print?

Some of us asked publicly and have gotten our answers at some point.  At one such occasion, I asked MMP’s Brian Youse for his permission to post his answers on my blog for reference.  Here’s what he said ..

I don’t believe we have any intention of kickstarting every, or even many, OOP game we have any time soon. 🙂

Why don’t we use Kickstarter – they take 8-10% the day your met campaign ends and everyone is billed.

A big game like Yanks/FKAC/Rising Sun/BV/etc. guesstimated costs us about 60-80k for the print runs we do, say 60k. Now we need a goal of 66k. Most Kickstarters have stretch goals (someone mentioned dice), add another few thousand. So I’m up to 70k easily as a funding point. How many games hit that dollar figure, when its a well established game (and most KS that are super successful have new minis – seems to us anyways and we’ve been watching for quite some time).

The problem is printers want to be paid in 30 days. A game like BV won’t sell -nearly- 60k in 30 days until some demand is generated. So RS, for example, has to be out of stock for a bit to build up demand.

The third real problem is we’ve had about six die-cutters in our existence. Each time requires the job be re-laid out to a die and that means proofing, because if you grab a layer badly, or something imports wrong, or any one of another issues then you’re missing the front AF or white turret ring. Our goal, of course, is to have things in a pick up the phone and say “print x thousand more” mode. Right now, I think only a few of our modules are like that. The French and the Italians need to be redone from scratch. So its not always -quite- so easy to just say “reprint AOO” – there’s some work involved and that work is just as easily spent on a new game which will sell more copies than a reprint of AOO – thus generating more income to keep doing things like paying employees, paying rent, keeping the shrink-wrapping machines repaired and well maintained, etc.

As someone said above, its a real balancing act on our end (in our opinion) to juggle new product, reprinting old product, determining what people may want next, won’t want next, etc.

It keeps Chas and Perry very busy, and me nagging them for “what’s next to keep enough rent in the bank.”

Kickstarter is very cool. It isn’t the cure-all a lot of people seem to believe it is, however. Again, in our opinion.

BTW – re: die cutting – getting an existing product ready for a new die-cutter is much, much easier than a new project (like Italians/French). We love our guy now, hope he’s in business forever, and doesn’t go nuts on price or product delay – I like our counters as much as any in the hobby, the die-cutting has been dead on balls accurate. Its an industry term. 🙂

BTW2 – while being OOP may seem like a constant state, its really a weird time-warp thing (IMO) because Rising Sun (for example) was in stock for like 3+ to 4 years. Took me by surprise, it -felt- like it was available for about 9 months. Chas had to pick me up off the floor when he said it was 4 years. Its not like some games i’ve seen / heard (Nintendo classic) which sold out in a month and is OOP for a decade.

We get occasional letters to reprint BRT (for example). That game was in stock for maybe 10 years, and we had to GIVE away the last 200 copies for what, maybe 10 or 15 bucks each? Pegasus Bridge was available for probably 15+ years and I know the last handful were sold for maybe 5 bucks at a show.

Its really tough to justify printing something that we had in stock for what seemed like forever and we couldn’t give away.

One more quick example – DAK. Reprint reprint reprint, so we did. Not a very large print run. Sold 500 of them fast. I think we sold most of the rest at a Black Friday sale over a few years for what was probably 20 cents on the dollar. 😦

We intend to reprint core modules. We will reprint starter kit “core” modules. We may reprint choice OCS and GTS. And the rest are way down the priority list…

Hong Kong Wargamer : Thank you Brian!

 

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12 thoughts on “Why can’t MMP use Kickstarter? What can’t MMP keep everything in print? And other everyday questions.

  1. Brian’s POV is completely understandable, IMO, and mind you they are the biggest dog on the block. I don’t want to jinx BFP’s reprint of B&J/CoS, but early indicators show it may be the first OOP item where a vocal minority yammered for its reprinting, but it turns out the real purchasing numbers may be lacking. Even willing to accept a small loss (!!!) to get it back in print, Chas basically had to say on GS, ‘hey, if all of you who said you wanted this don’t pre-order it now, we probably won’t be able to do it!.

    Brian is right, demand must build up beyond a handful of new players who take every opportunity to repeatedly post about the lack of an item in print. On a side note, I think many newcomers show almost a sense of entitlement that is off-putting to others. A very polite and enthusiastic poster recently received from me a pristine set of WoA counters for simply the cost of postage; entirely unsolicited on his part. He simply posted, among other positive posts, that he wished he had the British OOB; not a ‘demand’ that MMP immediately reprint it, or try and tell them how to prioritize their ASL business decisions, or tick off veteran players by calling them smug, self-satisfied fatcats.

    Showing a willingness to become a polite, constructive part of the ASL community goes a LONG way towards others helping you out, even when you don’t directly ask for their assistance. Yes, there can be divisiveness in our ranks on occasion, but ASL truly is a community, and not just a game system sold by a faceless, capitalist cabal of MMP/TPP.

    Reply
    • I heard another one of your beneficiaries kept bringing that set of Italian OB around tournaments because it is truly the most valuable of his ASL possessions. It represents the very best of the ASL community that unfortunately not enough people will ever see.

      I hear too much of :: I can’t learn this because .. I can’t play this because …. when the best thing to do is the simplest of all : JUST JUMP IN AND PLAY.

      Or to quote Russ Bunten “Shut up and Play”

      Too many people with too much sense of entitlement. My gut feeling ironically is that folks who whinge the loudest are not the real players, but the dabblers and collectors. Players have no time to whinge.

      I think also that too many people mistook “I really want one” with “Of course everybody’s gonna buy one”. Youse and Cocke are smart to see thru all that noise.

      Reply
  2. Maybe they can consider to change the selling model of ASL core system, not in modules of nationalities, but in sets of gaming parts.
    As an example, the whole core system can be separated as following parts:
    i) Rulebook;
    ii) Counter pack of one single major nationality, or several minor, with their corresponding chapter H;
    iii) Mapboard bundle or single mapboard (they have started with this part);
    iv) Overlay bundles;
    and finally, for scenarios, maybe they can put the “core” scenarios into one big Scenario Book, or Scenario Selections, maybe reorganized as: “Beginning Level” (or “Infantry theme”), “Intermediate Level” (or “Gun & Tank theme”) and “Veteran Level” (or “Large map/army” theme).

    Just some wide imagination;~P

    Reply
    • Good thinking there mate. Perhaps you wanna write the MMP guys directly? If it can generate more cashflow and hence keep MMP churning out new products, what’s not to like?

      I have been a salesperson all my life but it pales in comparison to folks who bet their own money on their own decisions every day.

      Perhaps a good way to focus thinking is to ask if folks are willing to bet a chunk of their wealth in what they suggested!

      Let’s get that Suicide Creek on the table soon – Rgds Jack

      Reply
    • This is what I was thinking. If I hear him correctly, it seems the expensive part of putting these sets together is the counter cutting and the problem with the sets is the specificity of them. Not everybody wants to fight the entire battle of Tarawa.

      Looking at Tarawa: in the package you get:
      Contents (MMP edition):
      2 22″x31″ maps
      4 countersheets (3 units, 1 status)
      Blood Reef Chapter Divider
      Chapter T Rules: T1-T21
      7 Scenarios

      The rules and scenarios could be electronic download and get the user to print them. Counters can be sold by nationality as you said and if a player wants to play this scenario he might just need to buy a couple extra countersheets of Americans and Japanese. Then the only thing they would have to have printed and in stock specific to this scenario is the maps.

      I have to thank them for the work they’ve done keeping this game system alive and he makes good points in the article. If they can’t make money we lose our dealer.

      Reply
      • I, for one, don’t know another man’s business well enough to give advise. On the other hand, I just read on GS that you are another ASL player who came back from a long hiatus! Welcome back sir and enjoy being a part of a terrific world community.

  3. Hey Jack,

    Thanks for posting this in an easy-to-access spot.

    It’s a good place to refer ASL players pining for the days of Avalon Hill and its stockpile of Yanks that took decades to sell out.

    @ Big Kansas,

    Agree wholeheartedly with your point that a small crowd of cheerleaders sometimes sways producers in ways that hurt not only the producers, but also the wider ASL community. For the hobby to continue to flourish, ASL publishers have to exercise restraint in choosing what to (re)print, and when.

    As to your second point, new and returning players stand to gain more by accepting the reality of our niche hobby, and focussing instead on forging friendships. SASL excepted, it takes two to play ASL. I haven’t owned a copy of Hollow Legions or Croix de Guerre in years. But this hasn’t prevented me from playing scenarios “requiring” ownership of either module. I also made do with American counters from ASLSK until MMP republished (a much improved) Yanks.

    Join the hobby, and start playing now. The “collecting” part is an ongoing process. It should never detract from one’s enjoyment of the hobby. At bottom, ASL is about creating memorable moments with friends and fellow travellers.

    Reply
    • Tons of collectors even around here .. who moans about certain missing modules and their price on eBay. Very few actual players – who are too busy playing to really care!

      Thanks for coming by Chris

      Reply
  4. Thanks for pulling this together, Jack.

    Regarding Rising Sun, it certainly sold out faster than I expected. I was shocked to see it out of print, particularly since I’d seen a number of old timers say they had no interest in repurchasing what they already owned. It was in stock for just a little more than 3 years, from September 2013 to November 2016. Technically I guess it could be argued that it was available for purchase for closer to 4 years if one factors in the 7 months it was on preorder.

    It’s a good reminder to play what you have and preorder everything you can.

    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen new players post on Facebook or the forums asking for advice on what to buy, and then bemoaning their fate when they fail to take the advice and it’s gone out of print.

    Reply
    • Let’s not forget the vast population who appears, buys everything available (and not available) and put their photos on Facebook. Clip those counters, sort them in nice Raaco boxes and post those photos on Facebook.

      Went quiet.

      And one day sold their whole collection.

      Well, perhaps that is their hobby, different strokes for different folks! 🙂

      Thanks for coming by, Paul!!

      Reply
  5. I kickstarter is a way for the community to give funding to a project. I got the impression from the article that MMP did not quite understand how they worked. It would help them fund the production of the inventory they can not afford. Unlike a preorder it does not entitle the payee to the project it simply gets the project made so the contributor can then buy it. Yes there are costs but nothing close to what is gained. It has been used quite successfully in the tech industry for a number of years.

    Reply
  6. Everything said seems to be solved by Kickstarter. So what, they take 10%; it’s money you didn’t have anyway and advertising costs are a standard business expense.

    Set the goal at the dollar amount needed to:
    – pay KS
    – hire, proof and produce top quality counters
    – create necessary artwork
    – pay for distribution
    – etc., etc., etc.
    – produce acceptable profit
    – factor in a product overrun for anticipated future sales, i.e. 12 months (highly profitable, since all costs were paid by the goal amount (including storage costs of overrun).

    Either the campaign funds or it doesn’t. If it funds, then where is the complaint? If it doesn’t, then the fanbase was unable to bring the product to print and will have to wait.

    Seems like MMP’s plan should be the backup plan, rather than the primary one, for bringing OOP or even new products to market.

    All of the issues Brian raised are always issues, regardless of how a product is funded.

    My guess is that MMP likes doing their own “kickstarting”, meaning putting a product out there and waiting for pre-orders to reach the “goal”. Therefore, they need 10% less than if done on KS.

    If that’s true, then all those other “reasons” for not using KS are not relevant. Just say, “We raise our own funding and it works for us.”

    Still, why not try a KS campaign for one product and see if it outperforms their own fund raising platform’s projections. Or, do an OOP campaign, set the appropriate goal and see what happens.

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say…

    Reply

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