Brent Waldher, Director of Legal Affairs, Privateer Press responds to the recent ICv2 article about the new direct-to-retailer Army Boxes for its tabletop miniatures games Warmachine and Hordes (see “Privateer Reveals First Direct-to-Retailer 'Army Boxes'”).

On January 18, ICv2 posted the article “Privateer Reveals First Direct-To-Retailer 'Army Boxes' As Company Changes Distribution Strategy,” which sparked some conversation in the gaming industry about the future of the distribution market for Privateer Press. We reached out exclusively to ICv2 to talk about how our Army Box promotion fits into our greater strategy for getting Warmachine and Hordes into the hands of our audience and to discuss our plans, openly and transparently, for distribution in the future.

We created the 2017 Army Boxes to offer an easily accessible single purchase for a new player to get started with Warmachine and Hordes. We set the price point aggressively low for the amount of product that comes in the packaging.

We still need to make sure that the offering in this package is attractive to our audience in a volume high enough to support those lower price points. Therefore, we proceeded—as many companies in other industries so often do—and created a test run of the product to be placed directly in retail stores before we committed to a run of significant quantity to deliver through regular distribution. The test run was small enough that any one of our distributors could have, and likely would have, purchased the entire run. By distributing the Army Boxes to retailers ourselves, however, we can get feedback from a larger demographic of our audience, direct from our retailers in the trenches. We can then form a better idea of what the real demand is for a product like this. We hope it flies off the shelves so we can create a larger run, offer it permanently, and put it in the hands of our traditional distributors.

A wider view of our distribution model will show that we are indeed evolving our distribution methods just as ICv2 reported—any business that isn’t constantly reevaluating all segments of its operations for effectiveness is stagnating. However, these shifts aren’t drawing us away from traditional distribution, but rather reinforcing it.

Privateer Press firmly believes the brick-and-mortar retailer is the lynchpin in the future growth of the industry. Starting with our “Free Rider” policy we have sought to stabilize the market for local game stores and restore Warmachine and Hordes as valuable product on their shelves (see “Privateer Axes Offending Online Retailers”). Our company has also built an account management team to support brick-and-mortar retailers in a way that would just be impossible for traditional distributors. We don’t expect our traditional distributing partners, who carry thousands of games, to be experts on our products (though I am always astounded at how much they do know). We also can’t expect retailers to be experts in our products, as they likely carry hundreds of games, and we can’t count on all retailers being on a first-name basis with their best Warmachine and Hordes players to determine what should be on their shelves.

Privateer Press recognizes this challenge, and therefore a primary goal for our company is growing the market so our audience has a local game store to game in wherever they happen to be. We have set about expanding what account managers do for retailers. Our account managers focus on finding new or discouraged stores and guiding them down the road to growing tabletop miniatures as a vibrant part of their business. Account managers will help to foster the stores’ success by lending their own familiarity with the product and their expert knowledge about what actually works in thriving local game stores. They will help stores grow their on-hand product into a selection with maximum appeal to their audience, regardless of where the retailers choose to purchase the product, from our distributors or directly from Privateer Press. In the event that traditional distribution doesn’t work for certain local game stores, then our company will be there to get them their product.

Our account managers’ primary goal is not and never will be to replace traditional distribution. The proof is in the numbers: direct to retail sales accounted for one half of a percent (0.5%) of our total revenue last year, and we are happy with that figure. No company in any industry would keep a sales team employed if it performed at that level when its primary purpose was sales, and that is not the case here.

Traditional distributors will continue to play a vital role in Privateer Press’ business so long as they want to be a part of our future. A decade of proven success isn’t something that we want to turn our backs on, and their partnership with us has been critical to this achievement. We hope that our account managers serve to bolster distributors’ ability to deliver quality goods in high demand by our retailers and by our audience, and that they will increase the number of accounts they work with by bringing them back into the fold.

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