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 looks at how new WPN rules on prereleases may affect how retailers schedule them, and shares thoughts on retailer levels for Kickstarters.

With Wizards of the Coast’s announcement last Monday that stores could hold prereleases as early as 3 p.m. on prerelease weekend, we will likely see the demise of the midnight prerelease tournament for the trading card game.  Other trading card games either limit the time frames in which a store can run a prerelease tournament or do not have a strong enough following to warrant the effort stores have to put in to running a successful midnight event.  Only Magic has a strong enough following to justify running a prerelease as soon as WOTC regulations allowed stores to do so.  Given that the primary draw of the ASAP prerelease is for players to get cards in their hands as quickly as possible, running a prerelease at 3 p.m. (or a couple of hours later to allow more players to get off work or out of class), will prove a whole lot simpler, easier on the payroll and less wearying on both players and store staff.  I expect to see a large drop-off in the number of stores hosting midnight prereleases with M20 and a gradual attrition of the midnight event over the next year.

Following up last week’s column, Dave Salisbury, who administrates the Game Retailers Who Back Kickstarters Facebook group, called my attention to the following list of things he had posted which retailers would like to see in a Kickstarter campaign with a level aimed at them:

  • 50% margin off MSRP.
  • Free demo copy.
  • Free shipping.
  • Minimal up front pledge.
  • Good communication outside project update emails. I drown in those. I need clear and concise "here is your invoice" level communication so I can pass it to my finance department.
  • Delivery at the same time as regular backers.
  • Exclusivity ahead of regular distro launch. We should be using our exclusivity window to build demand.
  • Release date.
  • A launch promo exclusive to retail that regular backers can get by going in store on release weekend.
  • A retailer locator on their website.
  • No 'late pledge' option.
  • An MSRP that is close to the KS price that they stick to, both on release and at conventions.
  • No deals to supply CSI or other deep discounters with more than a case of product. This often cannibalizes their own campaign.
  • No functional difference between our copies and KS copies. I have seen campaigns where we lose exclusive KS content, because we are somehow second class citizens.
  • Mostly we need margin, MSRP and the stock ahead of distro. This year more than a dozen games took my money and left me hanging without product while distro sold to folks who didn't back. And that makes me pretty basic.
  • If you are selling into the UK, pay your bloody tax. Know the actual tax rules for selling into the UK and adhere to them.
  • If you use a broker, check their reputation.

Can a publisher do all these?  Possibly.  The more the campaign can check off, the more retailers will probably back the campaign.

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