Fantasy Flight Games is Watching You

So Fantasy Flight Games has a nifty new idea to help increase sales. Spend $1,000 on FFG product, and your store can have a sort of interactive FFG advertising box. They will stream content to the box, which you, in theory, have displayed prominently in your gaming store, with the idea that when the customers come in, they’ll see the nifty, never-ending advertising for whatever FFG wants to pimp at the moment, and will be more inclined to purchase said product. Sounds like a winner, doesn’t it?

Except there are apparently some problems. The store owner is on the hook for $650 to replace the thing if it gets broken. There’s no guarantee when the darned thing will actually be shipped to your store. And, most creepy to my mind, the box is equipped with an “interactive” feature that allows FFG to film and listen in on what’s going on in front of the box. Yes, FFG wants a camera in your local game store, which they can turn on at will, and the store has to stock $1,000 worth of product for the privilege.

Is this really a good thing? Is seeing a 24/7 stream of advertising about WH FRP really worth the troubles and potential troubles? I’m not seeing it, myself, but it seems to be popular in some quarters.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

17 thoughts on “Fantasy Flight Games is Watching You

  1. I think the basic idea is that the ads displayed on the box will help sell more games.

    As I say, I don't see it working all that well, but perhaps FFG has some marketing studies to which I'm not privy.

  2. The problem with "1984" as a novel and as a movie as a social predictor is it lacked branding. The inside of the cell where O'Brien interrogated Smith should have been covered in ads for Nike, WalMart, Disney Pictures… and Fantasy Flight Games. I wonder how many other games do something like this without letting anyone know.

  3. FFG come out with an expensive, style-over-substance box that may not do the job correctly. Seriously: this is a parody, right?

    Old school response: "We have this old technology called 'posters'. They're cheap, easily replaceable, non-spying, have no legal straitjacket…"

  4. Doing some digging it seems like it is basically an iPad, and the monitoring system is supposed to prevent theft!

    While less draconian, it suddenly just spell stupid. Locks? Bolt it to a wall? Close the door?

    There are some more discussion of this on Boardgamegeek.

  5. There doesn't seem to be anything particularly radical here: Shipping special, high-end promotional material to stores that order large quantities of your product has been bog-standard practice for something like 150 years now.

    The guy you're linking to belly-aching about stores laying out $1000 is being kinda silly: That's not some sort of exorbitant amount of product. That's 30-40 boardgames. If you're not carrying a selection of FFG games in the first place, what would be the point of having one of these in your store?

    The replacement costs do seem a little onerous. But the point seems to be primarily about preventing people from ordering these from FFG (at FFG's cost), and then removing the iPad running the app for their own personal use. This is also not an unusual clause for these kinds of high-end promotional devices. If the device were damaged or stolen in the store, the store's insurance would cover that loss.

    Finally, I'm not seeing the camera bit referenced in either of your links. Nor is a quick googling turning up any references to it. Since the iPad doesn't currently have a camera, it seems doubtful that FFG has attached one to this box. The contract language exempting it looks like bog-standard ass-covering legalese.

    Long story short: This is a tempest-in-a-teapot being generated by people too ignorant to realize that nothing exceptional is going on here.

  6. Yes, Justin, and for some reason you've been carrying FFG's water all over the blogosphere.

    If you look in the media retail contract, paragraph 5.c., you will see:

    "That the device will gather information about itself, its use, and its surroundings. That such data will be sent to FFG consistently, and may include, but is not limited to:
    – FFMC device usage data
    – Activity times data
    – Geo-Location (tracking) data
    – Proximity audio and/or visual data"

    See that last one? "Proximity audio and/or visual data"? That's what I'm talking about. If you know how they can get proximity video data and transmit it back to FFG-HQ without a camera, good on you.

    One wonders why they're not touting that particular feature if it's so wonderful…

  7. Oh, and if it happens to be illegal in whatever locality the store happens to be in, or if the customers get honked off that they're being filmed without their permission, it's not FFG's fault:

    APPLICANT will indemnify FFG from APPLICANT’s failure to disclosure the FFMC device’s data-gathering activities to APPLICANT’s retail store visitors.

    Yeah, I'm loving this.

  8. It might be, like I posted, anti-theft measures. But, in that case I think they should use something less expensive if they have to collect (or at least protect their legal ass to some day collect) that much data.

    FFG might be doing something quite standard, but if the standard suck…

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