Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

[Icehouse] Re: Attn. Kristin, How much is a lot, anyway?

  • FromDavid Artman <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateMon, 12 Mar 2007 13:46:32 -0700
Elliott reminded us all of this:

In that article, Kristen makes this comment:
> ...but $40 is still too much for many people's budget,
> even given the great value the set represents because
> of all the different games you can play with the pieces.

AND, while at StellarCon, one of the owners of SciFi Genre commented to
me, and I quote, "When are they going to re-release Zendo? I could sell
that all day long, at $50!" (Well, OK, a paraphrase....) This from a guy
does a TON of Internet sales while also running a brick-and-mortar
storefront in Durham. He is well aware of both how much folks will
spend on the scores of collectible games he sells (average players drop
hundreds over time) AND how expensive the "Euro" board games have
become, relatively speaking (a box of cardboard is HOW much?!?).

And I must confess, I agreed with him completely.

I would like to expand upon a few of these points, plus one other:

1) $50 for Zendo--with its glass beads and colorful, durable, waterproof
pieces--would be a no-brainer for many strategy gamers. IF it were
packaged in a manner that made it crystal clear how many games one can
play. SO, sure, keep the cool, mystic cover. But the back should,
basically, pitch the whole system, not just Zendo.

2) To really drive the flexibility home, go ahead and include printed,
complete rules (not references) for, say, ten full games that can be
played with four stashes. And pitch all ten--Zendo first, sure--on the

3) THEN, as an exciting call-out box or blurb at the very end, direct
folks to the Icehouse.org wiki, and tell them that there are over 150
games and counting that one can play with the box in their hands and
some common playing objects (coins, tokens, playing card, etc).
Encourage them to invent some of their own (what gamer doesn't think he
knows more about game design than anyone... except his favorite
designer?) ;^)

4) BUT, I'd go even further: instead of re-releasing Zendo at $50,
release a Martian Chess set for $60... and include six well-made Eeyore
boards. Maybe not Kadon heavy plastic, but a step above coasters...
maybe double laminated card stock? Do the back in the same manner as
the Zendo back suggestions above: make it crystal clear that this box
has stuff for ten games in it, right now, and that the buyer will be
able to play over 150 other games, with a trip to the Internet. If
there's room in the budget/price point, include the beads for Zendo.
Otherwise, don't--in spite of some posters' difficulties finding beads,
they really are common as rain and can be bought for pennies each by the
end user. Or they can choose some other marker stone--flexibility,
customizability, "stoneniking."

Yeah, I have propped up the dead horse and commenced with the
beatings... again. But I do so with the full concurrence of my local
area's best game salesperson. (Well, OK, he didn't TOTALLY grok my
suggestion to shift to MC instead of Zendo, but we were on the same
page about price point, value of the games, and durability--for the
latter, see how Carcaisonne or Magic cards hold up when a pint of
Guinness is dumped on them; and compare to how (laminated) Eeyore
boards and pyramids fare.)

I honestly feel that there is room again--in both the gaming world AND
in the price points that the market will bear, for perceived relative
value--for another boxed game, be it Zendo or MC.

(In closing, as an aside, and being a serious MC player: I'd shelve the
notion of the felt, two-sided MC circle. For one, it pretty much
doesn't leverage the coolness of being able to do 2- thought 6-player
games with separate wedges; and for two, it's at least as non-durable
as coasters, in splash- and spill-risk environments. Consider this:
pyramid games could become the next pool-side party game or ubiquitous
pub game, if properly positioned in the market... and if the associated
products can endure it, which so far they can't (Martian Coasters). The
very waterproof nature of pyramids might, in itself, be the "killer
app" you are hoping to find, to hit it big.)

Please accept this repetitious argument in the most positive light.
Times change, markets drift, economies ebb and flow. It could very well
be that the past perception that the boxed games are too high is
out-dated, now that Euro games and collectibles are exploding. And
there's no doubt that a four-stash set of pyramids with some cool,
weird boards is a MUCH better value for the dollar than ANY cardboard
tiles boxed game from Europe.

Peace and love;

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