Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at a game company that solicited input from retailers and followed it, and a second company that should.

It’s rather nice when a manufacturer asks a question of retailers, then actually listens to what stores say and acts upon it.  It seems to most retailers that manufacturers generally ask what stores want, listen and then go ahead and do whatever they planned to do in the first place.  The recent releases of Batman Fluxx and  Adventure Time Fluxx, and the upcoming release of Fluxx Dice by Looney Labs are one of those great examples of a publisher reaching out to retailers, asking what should happen in a given situation, and then acting on what said retailers  recommended Looney Labs do in order to make it easier on stores and maximize sales.

The original publishing schedule for the three releases was to release Adventure Time Fluxx in late July, Batman Fluxx in early August and Fluxx Dice in late August.  Due to a flux in the space time continuum, or more likely a shipping and delivery problem, the release date for Adventure Time Fluxx had to get pushed back to early August, releasing at the same time as Batman Fluxx.  So Looney Labs did what any publisher ought to do and so few do, reach out to the people who will be selling most of their products to the end consumer, the retailers.

Looney Labs wanted to know whether to release both Fluxx titles on the same day, potentially creating a greater impact and grabbing more mindshare from the consumer, or stagger the releases a few weeks apart, allowing each release to generate buzz on its own.  Most of the retailers who responded chose spreading out the two releases over the month for two main reasons.

1)  As noted above, spacing out the two allowed Looney Labs and stores to spread out the impact of each release, allowing stores to focus on and promote each separately, rather than putting together a larger promotion that would increase attention on the Fluxx brand but could dilute the impact of either release on its own.

2)  From a financial standpoint it is much easier for retailers to absorb the impact of stocking both games  if they can spread the "hit" to the budget over a month rather than stocking both at the same time and having the bill for both coming in at the same time as well.

Looney Labs did listen to the stores and pushed the release of Adventure Time Fluxx to later in August, releasing Batman Fluxx on August 7th, Adventure Time Fluxx two weeks later and, so as to smooth out the release schedule even more, bumping Fluxx Dice back into early September.

It would really help stores, and overall sales, if more companies would do both of these things:  talk to us and spread out their release schedules more for new products.  Paizo’s release schedule for Pathfinder generally calls for new products to release the last Wednesday of each month, meaning that a Pathfinder player who wants to pick up everything for the game has to plan on dropping an average of $100-$200 that week on Pathfinder products.  Spreading out new releases on a weekly schedule, ala Games Workshop, would mean:  1) new products every week for the Pathfinder player and 2) less of a hit at the end of the month on the Pathfinder player’s wallet, and the store’s budget too, for that matter.  Think about it, would you Paizo?

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of