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, Scott Thorne hears from the new GAMA ED on the Origins Library and shares his opinions on two issues of the day for retailers.

After last week’s column on the Ravnica Allegiance pre-release and the president of GAMA, I received an email from the new Executive Director of GAMA, John Stacy, regarding my comments on the shuttering of the Origins Library project.  According to Executive Director Stacy, GAMA and Origins plan to move forward with this year’s Origins Library project:

I know that there has been some confusion given Mike Stackpole’s announcement that he was stepping down as volunteer coordinator for the project.  While I regret Mike’s departure as a loss for the program, the Origins Library is moving forward with a larger footprint this year.  The staff and I have been working to update the program to include expanded space to allow additional authors to participate, a partnership with a national bookseller and for the first time, the option to purchase a digital copy of the Origins Anthology as well as a print version.  Our goal is to have an official announcement out early next week to explain the changes and open registration for authors to participate in both Origins and the Anthology.  The GAMA staff are excited about the program for Origins 2019 and will be rolling out several new announcements shortly after GAMA Trade Show in March.

I appreciate Executive Director Stacy reaching out to clarify the status of the Library and look forward to seeing what GAMA will do, given the comparatively short time frame.

I would also like to touch upon some of the problems stores are seeing in the channel of distribution (aside from Wizards of the Coast’s/Hasbro’s seemingly endless determination to destroy MSRP as a viable price point for its Dungeon & Dragons line; I foresee some heated questioning coming from retailers during any sessions WOTC hosts at the GAMA Trade Show), specifically out-of-stocks and release dates.  Let’s start with release dates.

Release Dates.  Several companies in the industry do a fantastic job hitting their release dates on new products:  Wizards of the Coast, Games Workshop, Paizo, Konami, Pokemon, Bushiroad, Force of Will and nearly any other TCG company out there.  All of the aforementioned do a fine job of setting and hitting their announced release dates.  WizKids does a pretty good job but adjusts dates about 10% of the time.  With many other companies, scrolling through websites, either distribution or publisher, often gives only a hazy date as to when we can expect to see the product arrive. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an alpha player of a game to have a much better idea of when a new product for their favorite game releases.  Kickstarter has not helped the matter, with its amorphous release dates of six months to a year or longer.  By putting in preorders I (and other retailers), tie up significant amounts of money for months or even years (still waiting on the Judges’ Guild reprint books we backed several years ago).  Having firm release dates would help us plan our budgets and know how much to invest in a product, which leads into:

Out of Stocks.  Though most of the larger publishers kept their stock levels adequate through the holiday season (KeyForge was a notable exception), we did see out-of-stocks on a lot of products from smaller press boardgames such as Gloomhaven, Root, Zombies, Scythe, and Dinosaur Island, all of which were out of stock until after Christmas.  Hopefully, these publishers are looking at their sales for this year and planning on how to avoid the out-of-stocks for next year.

Two ways I would suggest (and I will expand on them next week):  flooring and reshoring.

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