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.  With Gary Con coming up this week, Thorne lays out the five questions for which he’s looking for answers at GAMA Trade Show.

Driving out on my annual trip to the GAMA Trade Show in Las Vegas, I always like doing this for two reasons:

  1. It is always interesting to see how the businesses located along the Route have adapted to survive and...
  2. It's a sobering reminder that, no matter how big you are, there is no guarantee you will stay there.  Case in point, Waymen's Ku Ku Burger in Miami, Oklahoma.  Once a chain of over 200 stores, the Miami Ku Ku Burger is the only one remaining, and likely to close when the owner decides to retire.

The big reason I like going to the GAMA Trade Show, however, is that it gives me a good opportunity to ask companies face-to-face the questions I have put together since last Christmas.  Yes, I could ask them via email or social media or even by phone but I have always found that face-to-face questions usually get a more detailed response.  Here are the top five I hope to get answered:

  1. Games Workshop:  You announced the Warhammer 40,000: Battle for Vedros line for mass market with a starter kit for only $49.99, less than half the price of your 40,000 starter for trade.  You have indicated that Battle for Vedros will not be available directly to hobby game stores.  Since hobby game stores are usually the ones to introduce Games Workshop products to new customers, will you be making a similar product available to specialty stores to help get customers hooked on 40K?
  2. Wizards of the Coast:  You continually push for stores to upgrade the quality of their events and their storescapes; however, instead of raising the price on Magic: The Gathering, you reduced the gross margin on the product, cutting retailers and distributor's profits and, hence, the money available to increase the quality of events and store facilities.  Do you have any plans to either increase the gross margin offered to resellers, increase the price of Magic or eliminate MSRP on the product line, making it harder to advertise discounts off MSRP?
  3. Paizo Inc.:  Stores have reported significant drops in sales of your new release and catalog product.  Will you be releasing a new edition of the core rules to jumpstart flagging sales and would you consider some method of tying the purchase of a hard copy and a PDF together, as do Green Ronin Publishing  and Margaret Weis Productions?
  4. Atlas Games:  Any plans to develop Lunch Money as a viable product line again?  You ran a great promotion with Three Cheers for Master last year and the Fast and Fhgatn game coming out later this year, so why not do something with what could again become an evergreen title.
  5. Wizards of the Coast (again):  You have a great catalog of board and card games.  Given the sales of board and card games in today's market, any chance we will see a Shadows Over Innistrad-level promotion to relaunch titles such as Guillotine, Great Dalmuti or Robo Rally, all great games but all also relying on word of mouth to generate sales?  If sending out an Avacyn standee to hundreds of stores to promote Shadows is a good use of promotional dollars, could some be used to promote these catalog titles?

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