My attention was caught by the following exchange on Twitter tonight, in the context of the new D&D Miniatures being available at GenCon prior to their being available at your local FLGS:
(On a technical note, this is the first time I’ve ever embedded a Tweet in the blog, so I’m sure I’ve unlocked some new level now.)
The thing is, I can see both sides of the argument.
To @Hahnarama’s point, a lot of us have a certain loyalty to our FLGS, and are willing to pay full retail prices simply to help sustain them, because of the added value they provide, beyond simply being a place to buy games. Often, this takes the form of providing a place to play games, which is increasingly more valuable as venues become harder to come by.
I remember back in the early-mid 80’s, my local FLGS, Fat Moose Comics and Games, had access to an empty storefront in the mall on Friday and Saturday nights, and at times there were literally hundreds of kids playing D&D there every weekend, myself included, just sitting on the floor in an otherwise-empty mall store (it used to be a clothing store, and it was quite huge). The pizzeria, McDonald’s, Chinese restaurant, and video arcade were all more than happy for the extra custom, I’m sure.
The point being that having a place to play the games is just as important as having a place to buy the games, especially when more and more gamers are turning to things like Meetup.com to find players, so inviting complete strangers into your home isn’t quite an optimal solution.
On the other hand, I can see Trevor Kidd’s point. Conventions like GenCon and Origins are events. People look forward to, and plan for, them for an entire year, and it’s nice to be able to provide something special for them to be able to take home as a reward for going to all the trouble and expense of attending. I remember I bought the first-ever-sold copy of Temple of Elemental Evil at GenCon, and it never occurred to me that I was taking money out of Fat Moose’s till in doing so.
And to complicate matters are online retailers like Amazon, who regularly discount gaming materials (books and miniatures) by absurd amounts, to the point where the extra money paid to the FLGS for play space might just not seem worth it…
It’s a conundrum, and it’s not one I pretend to have an answer for. I welcome your thoughts on the subject in the comments.