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 talks about a new program and retailing trend from GAMA Trade Show.

As I mentioned last week, I missed the 2018 GAMA Trade Show, partially because of the move to Reno (very hard to made a drive along Route 66 and wind up in Reno) and partially because I wanted to get caught up on grading mid-terms.  Following the news on social media, two things struck me, one pretty newsworthy and one less so but striking because of the number of people mentioning it:

1.  The Newsworthy item.  Asmodee North America enhances its brick and mortar retail store program.  This is newsworthy because in the game industry today, Asmodee NA and the game studios it represents are what I estimate is a good 60% of the boardgames sold in the industry.  Just take a look at the number of gaming publishers gathered under the Asmodee banner.  The program, which will kick in full during the third quarter of 2018, requires several things from participating retailers:

  • Agree to stock the 40 best-selling games  under the Asmodee canopy:   Catan, Catan Junior, Catan 5-6 Extension, Seafarers, Ticket to Ride, Ticket to Ride Europe, Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails, Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Mansions of Madness, Arkham LCG, Star Wars Destiny 2-Player Starter, Star Wars Rebellion, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy Season 1, 7 Wonders, 7 Wonders Duel, Splendor, Dixit, Concept, Carcassonne, Spot It, Mysterium, Dead of Winter, Small World, Captain Sonar, Game of Thrones Board Game, Descent, Dice Forge, Time Stories, Mille Bornes, Sherlock Holmes Jack the Ripper, Unlock series, Takenoko, Citadel, Cash n Guns, and Feast for Odin.  Most stores carrying a decent selection of boardgames already stock 80% or more of these.
  • Agree to stock at a minimum 2 copies of each of those 40 games.
  • Agree to maintain a MAP of no less than 10% off MSRP, instead of the 20% the company now has in place.  No idea if this new MAP replaces the 20% figure or if this is the figure to which only stores participating in the program have to adhere.

In return, participating retailers will receive (subject to change before implementation of the program):    

  • Additional discount for carrying the full line.
  • 2 complimentary display racks.
  • Monthly window clings, posters and other promotional items.
  • 2 free demo games per month. Not sure if they are the same two demo games for every store or if stores will be able to pick which ones they want that month.
  • 2 free in-store activities per month (OP kits most likely).
  • Stores will receive credit for up to two copies of any game they have in stock that is removed from the top 40 program.
  • If a new edition of a top 40 game releases, stores will receive credit for any copies, up to two, of the previous edition still on the shelf.

Most stores at the show sounded pretty enthused about the program, especially since, as noted earlier, most already meet the stock levels.  I assume the store’s assigned Asmodee rep will check with retailers monthly or weekly, much as Games Workshop does, to make sure stock levels are maintained.

2.  Demo Tables.  For some reason, I guess one of the presentations on the benefits of in-store demonstrations, a lot of stores left fired up with plans to put demo tables into their stores.  I have seen comments from half a dozen stores saying they need to get demo tables put into their store as soon as possible.  This should prove good news for Renegade Game Studios which already has a free demo table program in place through Alliance.

The enthusiasm over these two topics so soon after the show really struck me and I am certain we will hear more over the next couple of weeks.

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