Saturday, July 07, 2007

Topper Deck?

,This is old news, and I recently read the deal is on the rocks. Nevertheless, I'm surprised more hasn't been made of this.

Upper Deck is seeking to buy Topps

What the mainstream media doesn't mention, because they have no clue, is that Upper Deck controls Upper Deck Entertainment and Topps controls WizKids.

If the deal goes through, Upper Deck will start to seriously rival Wizards of the Coast in the Hobby Game Industry. I don't think this is good or bad, just really interesting.


Goo-Goo Clustr Map

Hey. It looks like somebody from Israel viewed my Blog! I'd bet it's Yehuda. If it is, I love your blog! I doubt I'd know ANYTHING about life in Israel if not for you. Everything else I know about jewish life I've learned from John Stewart, which is, it is safe to say, a pretty sad amount.

(If it's not Yehuda, my apologies to whomever.)


E-What the Hey?-Bay

As you might imagine, I've got a lot of games and cards in my closet. When I need a few extra bucks, I haul out the stuff, take photos, and put it up on e-bay. I have a 100% positive feedback rating, and nobody has ever complained about my items or auctions...until just now.

This is the message I got:

You're totally wasting your time. You're showing HORRIBLE pictures and giving completely useless descriptions of the condition of the cards. I'm referring to all these auctions you just put up and are wasting out time with.

Send me a list of the REAL conditions of each card you have for auction based on REAL grading techniques.

Or don't and watch all of these end at a fractin of their real value.
Wow! I'm a bit shaken up by it, honestly. I pride myself on being as fair and honest as I can be, and this person really attacked me. My crime? Not knowing how to grade used magic cards. I am totally guilty, BTW. I thought it was pretty simple - Poor, Fair, Good, Near Mint, Mint. Most of my cards are Fair-to-Good, though one was in pretty darned good shape, so I said Good/Near-Mint (with a clarification that it wasn't quite near mint.) There must be a Very Good or something that I'm missing. After a slightly calmer give-and-take, I've asked for a URL with the grading system I should be using. I'll update all the auctions once I know how to do it properly (at least in the eyes of this potential buyer.)

[sales pitch]
Well, since nobody is going to bid on my cards, I suggest you check them out. You'll save a bundle, apparently.
[/sales pitch]

UPDATE: Myself and the angry e-bay-er have exchanged a couple more e-mails, and I've since revised my auctions using this rating system. While I'm still not sure how I should take the original e-mail, my auction descriptions ARE better now. Show me the money!

UPDATE 2: Now we've exchanged a few more e-mails, and everything's cool. I even feel bad calling him (or her?) the angry e-bay-er, although it's still kind of funny. Luckily, nobody reads my blog!


Friday, July 06, 2007

Transform This!

Saw Transformers. Utterly ridiculous. Utterly Awesome!

Transformers is a popcorn movie in all the best ways. The plot...well...whatever. The characters were fun, cartoonish, often outrageous (the humans, I mean). The robots were robots. Big, violent, very good, and very evil. If you think you'll like the movie, you will. If you're looking for a complex plot with a lot of character development, you'll be better off renting Independence Day.


Pros and Conventions

,The last major convention we attended supporting Clout was GenCon SoCal last November. The World of Warcraft CCG was being launched, and unsurprisingly they took most of the collectible gaming crowd away from the rest of us. Obviously those folks wanted to play the new 'hot' game. It was easy for the rest of us publishers, who were working just as hard as Upper Deck, to get a bit jealous. I know I was.

Since then I've had a lot of time to consider what makes company sponsored tournament and demo events successful for collectible games at conventions. The format is basically set in stone. Have as nice a booth as you can afford, running demos as quickly as you can for as many people as you can. Run full games in the provided gaming area as frequently as you can, keeping them as full as you can.

The formula is so standardized, the conventions themselves resist breaking out of the format (NO DEMOS IN THE TOURNAMENT AREA!)

If you are a small game publisher, I want to start by writing off the convention gaming areas. They are often crowded, often hot, designed to hold the maximum number of people at a minimum cost. The big players usually have fancy structures, props, and huge banners. The smaller companies have table and floor mounted signs, and sometimes...sometimes...their own tablecloths. If your a small company, you might as well advertise..."Our game is just like theirs, only with fewer players and less cool."

Smaller games need smaller venues. Better venues. Conventions are amazing at bringing gamers together. For standard games (cards, board, and rpgs) they utterly fail at providing a upper-tier game play environment. The average living room is far more comfortable. As a game-publisher, finding or creating an environment that is even better than a player can manage at home should be a priority. If anyone manages to combine a quality game with a quality setting, the results will be staggering.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Defy Gravity?

I work in the Seattle PI building, here in Seattle. The PI (short for Seattle Post Intelligencer) is one of city's two maj0r newpapers. It's also the one that's likely to disappear first, so I've read. Other than it's failing as a medium, I don't know anything about the paper business. I don't really know much about the PI. What I do know comes from what I see when the secure elevator door opens on floors 2 and 3. On the second floor, clearly visible from the elevator, is a list of goals the paper seeks to aspire to. The last one says...Defy Gravity.

Now, underneath Defy Gravity there are some words explaining what it means. I don't know what they say. Above Defy Gravity are a number of other goals. I can't remember what they are.

That means, most of what I know about the PI can be summed up as this: They're trying to do the impossible, and they're failing.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tribal Gamers

Do you play or publish a game or group of games (like boardgames) with a dedicated community following? Hasbro can get away with publishing games supported by casual players, nobody smaller can.

The average customer won't do you any favors. She won't buy your game based on your brand, your history, your reputation, nor the promises of your advertising.

A member of your game's community WILL. If you live up to all those positive things you think and promise about yourself, she'll do it again and again. She may tell her friends. She'll feel great about doing it.

How big is your game's community? It's not big enough. A strong community means regular customers for a publisher. It means a more rewarding gaming experience for the players.


Monday, July 02, 2007

More than meets the eye? Hells Yes!

Just to be clear, I'm totally going to see Transformers. That doesn't change the fact that the Slate review is HILARIOUS!

You know the way a grade-schooler, attempting to recap the plot of a recently seen movie, will backtrack, repeat himself, get lost in trivia, then skip forward to the final fight scene, all the while sputtering adorably about how cool the monster was? The story line of Transformers proceeds something like that. stay on topic...well...WotC's making a Transformers Game. Knowing nothing about it at all, except this, I suggest not buying it.