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Re: [GZG] Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi!

From: "Allan Goodall" <agoodall@h...>
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008 12:10:54 -0500
Subject: Re: [GZG] Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi!

On Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 8:51 AM, Roger Burton West <>
> The impression I get is that this mostly happened before their big
> into the USA, so perhaps the American gaming community doesn't have
> sense of contempt that I think quite a few British gamers still feel
> GW - to the extent that you're unlikely to see GW games being played
> a general wargaming convention unless it's being done by GW staff.

The North American game store developed differently from the British
store, or so I've been told. British stores were geared more to
miniatures earlier on.

I know that growing up my home town (Oshawa, Ontario, Canada) didn't
have a proper game store. I bought my SPI games, and Strategy and
Tactics, from a hobby store in the mall called Leisure World. I bought
Avalon Hill wargames from a catalogue store (Shoprite, which was owned
by the Hudson's Bay Company; that'll be a "blast from the past" for
Canadian readers...).

There was a big jump in game stores in North America due to two
separate events. Roleplaying started to gain momentum in a big way at
the end of the 70s, early 80s. That propelled the opening of a lot of
game stores. About the same time, comics went to direct
distributorship for their premium titles (like Dreadstar, and Epic
Illustrated from Marvel). That resulted in independent comic stores,
who started to bring in games as they hit a similar market.

North American game stores were tied (shackled is a better word) to
the North American distributor system. It was rare for a game store to
deal directly with a game company. The game distributors were largely
comic distributors (or were bought out by comic distributors). To get
product in North America you had to go through these big
gatekeepers/filters. (Distributors have been the bane of the North
American game hobby, particularly RPGs and particularly in the last 10
years; their inefficiency in the wake of smaller publishing runs and
the "indie" game scene are the sources of the change in RPG business
models over the last five years.)

I worked in a comic store in the mid-to-late 80s and as "the computer
guy" into the 90s. Our games, even GW games, came through one of three
major distributors. GW couldn't have killed our store by stopping us
from getting product, because we didn't get their product directly
from them. They couldn't hurt us without it applying to every game
store in North America. So, they couldn't do the same predatory
marketing that they did in Britain. Eventually they did open up their
own distribution system and sold directly to stores, but by that point
North American game stores were aware of what GW was doing in Britain,
and were very careful on how quickly they jumped into bed with them.

I'm not positive, but I think the moment GW opened up a distribution
network they fell under a different set of commerce laws, but don't
quote me on that.

It does seem that the manner in which North American game stores
evolved shielded them to a certain degree from Games Workshop's
predatory business practices.

Allan Goodall

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