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Lootboxes, Microtransactions, and [Gambling in Gaming]

1246760

Posts

  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Phyphor wrote: »
    For example, the official Blizzard-provided Hearthstone odds are:
    RARE - At least 1 rare or better in each pack.
    EPIC - Average of 1 every 5 packs.
    LEGENDARY - Average of 1 every 20 packs.

    Way I heard it was one guaranteed rare, and then each card has a 20% chance to be upgraded to the next tier, which can repeat until the max tier. Which pretty much matches those numbers.

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • The WolfmanThe Wolfman Registered User regular
    Kids don't have "income" per say, but they sure do have money. Allowances, and the ever ubiquitous "birthday check" from grandma, which isn't a check anymore but a simple money transfer into said kid's bank account. But they have more money than you did at that age because of inflation, and they're not storing it in a piggy bank either. It adds up.

    And you don't even need credit cards for the vast majority of lootboxes. You can buy PSN/Xbox/Steam cards at any grocery store, and as far as I know there's no age limit to buying them.

    "The sausage of Green Earth explodes with flavor like the cannon of culinary delight."
    PSN: TheWolfman64 3DS/Pokemon Y: 0774-4614-4065/NNID: the_wolfman64
    CelestialBadgerIblisSiskaLord_Asmodeus14357ElvenshaeMegaMekGennenalyse RuebenElldrenshoeboxjeddy
  • HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    dang drafts
    Enc wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    I personally think digital CCGs should have marketplaces. One the big reasons I don't play Hearthstone much is because I need X legendary for a deck and the only way to get it is to throw money in a black hole and pray. But you can play Magic without ever buying boosters. It's still expensive, but I can put the deck I want into coolstuffinc or whatever and know I can drop $400 to have this deck or not.

    You can also pay ~10c to print out a few pages of cards on a photocopier and stuff them into sleeves to play, but for some reason that isn't allowed in most play circles.

    Because, clearly, you are a better gamer if you spend money on arbitrary goods for card unlocking rather than simply sitting together to play a game.

    Proxy tournaments in Magic used to be a pretty common thing until Wizards of the Coast cracked down on them.

    They can't stop you from running a proxy tournament, but they can withhold other perks from local game stores where such tournaments are held.

    Yeah, I mean that's the problem. So many of these circles are built around the games stores which, in turn, are complicit in encouraging the spending behavior (both because they need it to stay open as their profit margins are slim, and because Wizards will pull product if they don't). Its a cultural problem, and it is entirely toxic.

    Contrast set-based games with fixed decks or replayable, cooperative content (such as Board Games) which generally don't require micro-purchases for an equivalent amount of time of fun for a much lower price point. A quality product is made, and quality enjoyment is derived, but nobody is making $Texas off of it. Just a reasonable amount of sales from the publisher, who in turn uses that to sell expansions for a tidy profit.

    Like Catan or Arkham.

    Oh, yeah. I totally agree. I enjoy Magic as a game, but I've been pretty vocal about how the business model is a little bit pyramidy.

    It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but there's an aspect of that there.

    Running a tournament is usually a net-loss or break-even proposition for a game store. The incentive to run a tournament is to bring in foot traffic and sell cards and drive the singles market.

    A big distributor like Star City Games or Channel Fireball is buying, and opening, vast volumes of booster packs at wholesaler prices (roughly $2.20 per pack, or $79.20 per box). Compare to MSRP of $3.99 per pack or $143.64 per box. They have people paid minimum wage (or even volunteers) open pack after pack after pack, sort them, upload them to an inventory system, and sell them as singles. The prices then reach equilibrium based on this $2.20 per pack cost plus overhead, labor, and profit.

    Then they run a retail operation, either a storefront or a table at a tournament, where you can sell your cards back to them at 50-60% of their singles price... but the singles prices are already based on that 45% wholesaler markdown.

    If you're a game store and you can get adequate volume, that's a decent business model.

    If you're a player, and you're buying packs at MSRP, this is the equivalent of playing a casino game with roughly 25-33% rate of return. Even as casino games go, that's pretty bad.

    On the other hand, Draft is one of the best Magic formats, just like Arena is the best Hearthstone format. The real ridiculous trick is that digital CCG limited formats don't let you keep the product.

    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
    FeralMatevDoodmannLord_Asmodeus14357ElvenshaeElldren
  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    I just want to say that, as part of this discussion, I literally paid for a semester of college including room and board by selling my M:TG collection. Gotcha anything with high levels of gambling is meant to suck money out of people with specific mental problems. You see this everywhere, and it's only becoming more prolific in the digital age.

    Hell, Amazon alone leads to tons of impulse buys for me.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
    Enc
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Heffling wrote: »
    I just want to say that, as part of this discussion, I literally paid for a semester of college including room and board by selling my M:TG collection. Gotcha anything with high levels of gambling is meant to suck money out of people with specific mental problems. You see this everywhere, and it's only becoming more prolific in the digital age.

    Hell, Amazon alone leads to tons of impulse buys for me.

    I bought a trip to Europe for my wife and I by selling my cards.

    HefflingKristmas Kthulhu
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    On the actual lootbox mechanic, since I've just realised I was talking about casino gambling regulations instead of the actually topic (I get excited, sorry) is that I don't like them.

    I was introduced to them in TF2, and fell for them completely. I think the trick that worked on me there is you got the box as a drop, and had to buy the key. Kind of seemed like a waste not too.

    Anyway, the fact that I was a student at the time and that the R to $ convertion was terrible (still is) meant that I spent way to much as a % of my liquid cash on it.

    There is a secondary steam market, which I'm fine with, and have pruchased things for TF2 through their and the TF2 market place itself, and I'm fine with the F2P system.

    Something like STO has it better (original implementation not-withstanding) since it's integrated in the market place, and you can buy permium currency with ingame currency so you can choose to interact with that at your level. But, and it's a big but, is the amount of effort it takes to get the premium currency, which I though STO did quite well, with limited time events that gave it as a reward so you could get a decent amount quickly, but with diminishing returns.

    But that's a personal preference.

    All those things can be regulated differently by the way, gambling legislation is very specific and can target similar gambling games differently.

    And analogy would be other vice legislation like alcohol vs weed other types of alcohol vs cigarettes vs candy that looks like cigarettes.

    Which is why I can buy beer and wine at my supermarket, but have to go to the attached but totally not part of the supermarket building next door to buy liqueur.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Are candy cigarettes illegal in the US? I just assumed since they were everyelse I lived. Loved those as a kid.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Are candy cigarettes illegal in the US? I just assumed since they were everyelse I lived. Loved those as a kid.

    No. They're just unpopular.

    We have banned Kinder Eggs, though, because of the possible choking hazard.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    EncDelmainLord_AsmodeusElvenshaeGennenalyse RuebenElldren
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »
    Are candy cigarettes illegal in the US? I just assumed since they were everyelse I lived. Loved those as a kid.

    No. They're just unpopular.

    We have banned Kinder Eggs, though, because of the possible choking hazard.

    Sort of. The egg is now divided into two halves, one with chocolate and one with a toy, because the toy is not allowed inside the chocolate.

    FeralElldren
  • SiliconStewSiliconStew Registered User regular
    I don't think they have "cigarette" on the labels or are sold in life-sized cigarette packs any more. I think they're just called "candy sticks" now.

    Just remember that half the people you meet are below average intelligence.
    MatevCelestialBadgerOneAngryPossumLord_AsmodeusElvenshaeMegaMekGennenalyse RuebenElldren
  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    In case you're wondering how the investment community thinks about all of this

    EA should raise prices, not lower them, says KeyBanc analyst.

  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    dang drafts
    Enc wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    I personally think digital CCGs should have marketplaces. One the big reasons I don't play Hearthstone much is because I need X legendary for a deck and the only way to get it is to throw money in a black hole and pray. But you can play Magic without ever buying boosters. It's still expensive, but I can put the deck I want into coolstuffinc or whatever and know I can drop $400 to have this deck or not.

    You can also pay ~10c to print out a few pages of cards on a photocopier and stuff them into sleeves to play, but for some reason that isn't allowed in most play circles.

    Because, clearly, you are a better gamer if you spend money on arbitrary goods for card unlocking rather than simply sitting together to play a game.

    Proxy tournaments in Magic used to be a pretty common thing until Wizards of the Coast cracked down on them.

    They can't stop you from running a proxy tournament, but they can withhold other perks from local game stores where such tournaments are held.

    Yeah, I mean that's the problem. So many of these circles are built around the games stores which, in turn, are complicit in encouraging the spending behavior (both because they need it to stay open as their profit margins are slim, and because Wizards will pull product if they don't). Its a cultural problem, and it is entirely toxic.

    Contrast set-based games with fixed decks or replayable, cooperative content (such as Board Games) which generally don't require micro-purchases for an equivalent amount of time of fun for a much lower price point. A quality product is made, and quality enjoyment is derived, but nobody is making $Texas off of it. Just a reasonable amount of sales from the publisher, who in turn uses that to sell expansions for a tidy profit.

    Like Catan or Arkham.

    Oh, yeah. I totally agree. I enjoy Magic as a game, but I've been pretty vocal about how the business model is a little bit pyramidy.

    It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but there's an aspect of that there.

    Running a tournament is usually a net-loss or break-even proposition for a game store. The incentive to run a tournament is to bring in foot traffic and sell cards and drive the singles market.

    A big distributor like Star City Games or Channel Fireball is buying, and opening, vast volumes of booster packs at wholesaler prices (roughly $2.20 per pack, or $79.20 per box). Compare to MSRP of $3.99 per pack or $143.64 per box. They have people paid minimum wage (or even volunteers) open pack after pack after pack, sort them, upload them to an inventory system, and sell them as singles. The prices then reach equilibrium based on this $2.20 per pack cost plus overhead, labor, and profit.

    Then they run a retail operation, either a storefront or a table at a tournament, where you can sell your cards back to them at 50-60% of their singles price... but the singles prices are already based on that 45% wholesaler markdown.

    If you're a game store and you can get adequate volume, that's a decent business model.

    If you're a player, and you're buying packs at MSRP, this is the equivalent of playing a casino game with roughly 25-33% rate of return. Even as casino games go, that's pretty bad.

    Wait, what, how can running a tournament be a losing proposition for a game store? Does magic force them to sell the packs for less than cost or something? It seems to me that running a draft or a intro day is pretty much surefire cash unless you don't get anyone through the door.

    I mean, even if the packs are sold at cost, thats still a few extra sales of sleeves and some drinks etc. The only thing 'used' is the general gaming area, which doesn't directly make money anyway. I mean sure, they could tear the gaming area out, and have more shelves but clearly they've decided they get more sales with a gaming area than without one.

    Are we saying that they would be better just pretending to have the tournement, buying packs of cards, and then just paying people minimum wage to open and sort them in the general gaming area? I mean, I guess that might be the case, but that ignores a lot of externalities.

    "That is cool" - Abraham Lincoln
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Marty81 wrote: »
    In case you're wondering how the investment community thinks about all of this

    EA should raise prices, not lower them, says KeyBanc analyst.

    Not quite the same, that guy is talking about the cost per hour of entertainment, and that games are cheap enough in total gameplay to be considerably under the sticker price in a per-hour valuation (meaning that the source game should be like $100 bucks).

    Which is fine at a surface level examination, but fails when you consider all the other market factors going into how games operate. Nobody will buy a $100 game in sufficient volume to drive good sales, especially not with microtransactions and day one DLC.

    He also compares digital games to movies and TV, rather than board games and other interactive mediums that came before them. A chess set, by his logic, should be valued at several thousand dollars.

    Enc on
    cptruggeddiscriderCaedwyr38thDoeMvrckDelmainLord_Asmodeus14357EtiowsaJuliusElvenshaeMegaMekMan in the MistsGennenalyse RuebenAuralynxElldrenshoeboxjeddy
  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Marty81 wrote: »
    In case you're wondering how the investment community thinks about all of this

    EA should raise prices, not lower them, says KeyBanc analyst.

    That's not quite what it says.
    It's saying I probably should have paid more than like twenty dollars for 4000 hours of team fortress 2, if you compare that to prices per hour for movies and cable TV.

    The comparison is unfair however; I'd expect to pay the same rate for the same service.
    And movies/cable I expect to provide me with new content per hour.
    Videogames, not so much.

    I will play the same content over and over if there are people to play it with, and if someone's paying the server costs.
    I don't expect the devs themselves to deliver a new map every one to three hours.
    And so I will pay a similar amount for a game as I would pay for a couple of movies, because that's how much content I expect them to provide.
    No matter how much I actually play the game or watch the movie.

    MMOs and such with ongoing development into new storylines are a different matter, and I would consider paying more per hour for them.

    discrider on
    Steam Community page: http://steamcommunity.com/id/discrider/
    Oh hey! A knife!
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    dang drafts
    Enc wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    I personally think digital CCGs should have marketplaces. One the big reasons I don't play Hearthstone much is because I need X legendary for a deck and the only way to get it is to throw money in a black hole and pray. But you can play Magic without ever buying boosters. It's still expensive, but I can put the deck I want into coolstuffinc or whatever and know I can drop $400 to have this deck or not.

    You can also pay ~10c to print out a few pages of cards on a photocopier and stuff them into sleeves to play, but for some reason that isn't allowed in most play circles.

    Because, clearly, you are a better gamer if you spend money on arbitrary goods for card unlocking rather than simply sitting together to play a game.

    Proxy tournaments in Magic used to be a pretty common thing until Wizards of the Coast cracked down on them.

    They can't stop you from running a proxy tournament, but they can withhold other perks from local game stores where such tournaments are held.

    Yeah, I mean that's the problem. So many of these circles are built around the games stores which, in turn, are complicit in encouraging the spending behavior (both because they need it to stay open as their profit margins are slim, and because Wizards will pull product if they don't). Its a cultural problem, and it is entirely toxic.

    Contrast set-based games with fixed decks or replayable, cooperative content (such as Board Games) which generally don't require micro-purchases for an equivalent amount of time of fun for a much lower price point. A quality product is made, and quality enjoyment is derived, but nobody is making $Texas off of it. Just a reasonable amount of sales from the publisher, who in turn uses that to sell expansions for a tidy profit.

    Like Catan or Arkham.

    Oh, yeah. I totally agree. I enjoy Magic as a game, but I've been pretty vocal about how the business model is a little bit pyramidy.

    It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but there's an aspect of that there.

    Running a tournament is usually a net-loss or break-even proposition for a game store. The incentive to run a tournament is to bring in foot traffic and sell cards and drive the singles market.

    A big distributor like Star City Games or Channel Fireball is buying, and opening, vast volumes of booster packs at wholesaler prices (roughly $2.20 per pack, or $79.20 per box). Compare to MSRP of $3.99 per pack or $143.64 per box. They have people paid minimum wage (or even volunteers) open pack after pack after pack, sort them, upload them to an inventory system, and sell them as singles. The prices then reach equilibrium based on this $2.20 per pack cost plus overhead, labor, and profit.

    Then they run a retail operation, either a storefront or a table at a tournament, where you can sell your cards back to them at 50-60% of their singles price... but the singles prices are already based on that 45% wholesaler markdown.

    If you're a game store and you can get adequate volume, that's a decent business model.

    If you're a player, and you're buying packs at MSRP, this is the equivalent of playing a casino game with roughly 25-33% rate of return. Even as casino games go, that's pretty bad.

    Wait, what, how can running a tournament be a losing proposition for a game store? Does magic force them to sell the packs for less than cost or something? It seems to me that running a draft or a intro day is pretty much surefire cash unless you don't get anyone through the door.

    I mean, even if the packs are sold at cost, thats still a few extra sales of sleeves and some drinks etc. The only thing 'used' is the general gaming area, which doesn't directly make money anyway. I mean sure, they could tear the gaming area out, and have more shelves but clearly they've decided they get more sales with a gaming area than without one.

    Are we saying that they would be better just pretending to have the tournement, buying packs of cards, and then just paying people minimum wage to open and sort them in the general gaming area? I mean, I guess that might be the case, but that ignores a lot of externalities.

    Labor and breakage.

    Cards are often marked down for the tournament, with more people required on payroll to run the event that night than usual (often two to three times more employees than would be on payroll in a normal night). Breakage and clean-up are considerable and often expensive, and if you don't keep your shop clean you will lose your customers and support from Wizards pretty quickly.

    So having 4 people working will cost you about 50 dollars an hour, including cleanup and setup hours. A tournament may, if you are lucky, will bring in enough to cover hour one through three, but not four, five, six, or seven as players continue to hang out and play. Most purchases are done at the start of the night, and while concessions can help support overhead it also leads to considerable spillage and staining, costing money to repair. Keep in mind the ~$3-4 you pay for a booster is retail, the actual profit margin is much less (if I remember correctly its about 80 cents a booster). So you need to sell ~60 boosters an hour to cover just your labor.

    Oh! Don't forget employee benefit/company taxes per employee! That's probably another 5-10 bucks an hour.

    Also keep in mind you need to bring in enough to keep the lights on and pay your rent. So that 50 bucks an hour is more like 100 bucks an hour, up from your usual ~60 a hour on a normal, non-tournament night when you can pay just one person to mind the register.

    Hey, we forgot to advertise! Lets add another one time cost of ~$200 to run a newspaper add, or another $20 for labor to run an email listserv to your purchase base. Mailers tend to work well, but at ~10c per mailer for postage your tournement might cost thousands, which is great to get boots into your store to remember it is there, but makes the tournement a losing proposition in itself.

    Soda stains on carpet? Maybe you can clean it out yourselves but even with you are likely looking at replacing your carpet roll two times a year because of it (unless you spring for tile or hard floors). A wildly successful tournament of 50 people will likely break 1-3 of your chairs or tables or displays, probably costing you about 50-75 bucks for the night.

    Events rarely drive sales or sustainability in themselves, but are great marketing tools to bring people to your store between them to stock up. It's very easy for a full store to close due to poor sales.

    Enc on
    FeralElldren
  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    Marty81 wrote: »
    In case you're wondering how the investment community thinks about all of this

    EA should raise prices, not lower them, says KeyBanc analyst.

    That's not quite what it says.
    It's saying I probably should have paid more than like twenty dollars for 4000 hours of team fortress 2, if you compare that to prices per hour for movies and cable TV.

    The comparison is unfair however; I'd expect to pay the same rate for the same service.
    And movies/cable I expect to provide me with new content.
    Videogames, not so much.

    I will play the same content over and over if there are people to play it with, and if someone's paying the server costs.
    I don't expect the devs themselves to deliver a new map every one to three hours.
    And so I will pay a similar amount for a game as I would pay for a couple of movies, because that's how much content I expect them to provide.
    No matter how much I actually play the game or watch the movie.

    Yeah, its an article which misunderstands the concept of what the manufacturer is delivering me. The manufacturer should be billing me based on how much something cost them to MAKE, with some markup. Not just based on how much time I spend playing it.

    Also, remember that the amount of time spent playing is a weird long tail distribution. Most people play games for maybe, 20 hours. 40 for a game they like a lot. This is true even in multiplayer. There ARE people who play the game for say, 1000 hours or 10000 hours who skew the average distribution high. Those people keep the game alive, and keep new short time players jumping into the market by talking about it and keeping the servers full when Johnny Newbie logs in for the first time.

    Your money comes overwhelmingly from the 20-40 hour crowd, so you can't send prices through the roof, because then they won't buy. And if they don't buy, then the 10k hour crowd won't have people to play with and will quit.

    Microtransactions are an attempt to monetize the 10k hour crowd, but they often raise the perceived price of games for the 20-40 hour crowd. But the base price of games should be set to the 20-40 hour crowd (or lower)

    "That is cool" - Abraham Lincoln
    Matev38thDoeVeagleLord_AsmodeusJuliusTofystedethIanatorMegaMekAistanMan in the MistsGennenalyse RuebenAegerishoeboxjeddy
  • SiliconStewSiliconStew Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    Marty81 wrote: »
    In case you're wondering how the investment community thinks about all of this

    EA should raise prices, not lower them, says KeyBanc analyst.

    Not quite the same, that guy is talking about the cost per hour of entertainment, and that games are cheap enough in total gameplay to be considerably under the sticker price in a per-hour valuation (meaning that the source game should be like $100 bucks).

    Which is fine at a surface level examination, but fails when you consider all the other market factors going into how games operate. Nobody will buy a $100 game in sufficient volume to drive good sales, especially not with microtransactions and day one DLC.

    He also compares digital games to movies and TV, rather than board games and other interactive mediums that came before them. A chess set, by his logic, should be valued at several thousand dollars.

    He tries to compare spending $300 on BF2 and playing 750 hours to watching the same amount of TV over a year. Ignoring the fact that the comparison to TV would be closer to only being able to watch a single show that whole time instead of the choice of hundreds of channels and thousands of shows.

    Just remember that half the people you meet are below average intelligence.
    discriderEncLord_AsmodeusHeatwaveshoeboxjeddy
  • HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    dang drafts
    Enc wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    I personally think digital CCGs should have marketplaces. One the big reasons I don't play Hearthstone much is because I need X legendary for a deck and the only way to get it is to throw money in a black hole and pray. But you can play Magic without ever buying boosters. It's still expensive, but I can put the deck I want into coolstuffinc or whatever and know I can drop $400 to have this deck or not.

    You can also pay ~10c to print out a few pages of cards on a photocopier and stuff them into sleeves to play, but for some reason that isn't allowed in most play circles.

    Because, clearly, you are a better gamer if you spend money on arbitrary goods for card unlocking rather than simply sitting together to play a game.

    Proxy tournaments in Magic used to be a pretty common thing until Wizards of the Coast cracked down on them.

    They can't stop you from running a proxy tournament, but they can withhold other perks from local game stores where such tournaments are held.

    Yeah, I mean that's the problem. So many of these circles are built around the games stores which, in turn, are complicit in encouraging the spending behavior (both because they need it to stay open as their profit margins are slim, and because Wizards will pull product if they don't). Its a cultural problem, and it is entirely toxic.

    Contrast set-based games with fixed decks or replayable, cooperative content (such as Board Games) which generally don't require micro-purchases for an equivalent amount of time of fun for a much lower price point. A quality product is made, and quality enjoyment is derived, but nobody is making $Texas off of it. Just a reasonable amount of sales from the publisher, who in turn uses that to sell expansions for a tidy profit.

    Like Catan or Arkham.

    Oh, yeah. I totally agree. I enjoy Magic as a game, but I've been pretty vocal about how the business model is a little bit pyramidy.

    It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but there's an aspect of that there.

    Running a tournament is usually a net-loss or break-even proposition for a game store. The incentive to run a tournament is to bring in foot traffic and sell cards and drive the singles market.

    A big distributor like Star City Games or Channel Fireball is buying, and opening, vast volumes of booster packs at wholesaler prices (roughly $2.20 per pack, or $79.20 per box). Compare to MSRP of $3.99 per pack or $143.64 per box. They have people paid minimum wage (or even volunteers) open pack after pack after pack, sort them, upload them to an inventory system, and sell them as singles. The prices then reach equilibrium based on this $2.20 per pack cost plus overhead, labor, and profit.

    Then they run a retail operation, either a storefront or a table at a tournament, where you can sell your cards back to them at 50-60% of their singles price... but the singles prices are already based on that 45% wholesaler markdown.

    If you're a game store and you can get adequate volume, that's a decent business model.

    If you're a player, and you're buying packs at MSRP, this is the equivalent of playing a casino game with roughly 25-33% rate of return. Even as casino games go, that's pretty bad.

    Wait, what, how can running a tournament be a losing proposition for a game store? Does magic force them to sell the packs for less than cost or something? It seems to me that running a draft or a intro day is pretty much surefire cash unless you don't get anyone through the door.

    I mean, even if the packs are sold at cost, thats still a few extra sales of sleeves and some drinks etc. The only thing 'used' is the general gaming area, which doesn't directly make money anyway. I mean sure, they could tear the gaming area out, and have more shelves but clearly they've decided they get more sales with a gaming area than without one.

    Are we saying that they would be better just pretending to have the tournement, buying packs of cards, and then just paying people minimum wage to open and sort them in the general gaming area? I mean, I guess that might be the case, but that ignores a lot of externalities.

    Labor and breakage.

    Cards are often marked down for the tournament, with more people required on payroll to run the event that night than usual (often two to three times more employees than would be on payroll in a normal night). Breakage and clean-up are considerable and often expensive, and if you don't keep your shop clean you will lose your customers and support from Wizards pretty quickly.

    So having 4 people working will cost you about 50 dollars an hour, including cleanup and setup hours. A tournament may, if you are lucky, will bring in enough to cover hour one through three, but not four, five, six, or seven as players continue to hang out and play. Most purchases are done at the start of the night, and while concessions can help support overhead it also leads to considerable spillage and staining, costing money to repair. Keep in mind the ~$3-4 you pay for a booster is retail, the actual profit margin is much less (if I remember correctly its about 80 cents a booster). So you need to sell ~60 boosters an hour to cover just your labor.

    Oh! Don't forget employee benefit/company taxes per employee! That's probably another 5-10 bucks an hour.

    Also keep in mind you need to bring in enough to keep the lights on and pay your rent. So that 50 bucks an hour is more like 100 bucks an hour, up from your usual ~60 a hour on a normal, non-tournament night when you can pay just one person to mind the register.

    Hey, we forgot to advertise! Lets add another one time cost of ~$200 to run a newspaper add, or another $20 for labor to run an email listserv to your purchase base. Mailers tend to work well, but at ~10c per mailer for postage your tournement might cost thousands, which is great to get boots into your store to remember it is there, but makes the tournement a losing proposition in itself.

    Soda stains on carpet? Maybe you can clean it out yourselves but even with you are likely looking at replacing your carpet roll two times a year because of it (unless you spring for tile or hard floors). A wildly successful tournament of 50 people will likely break 1-3 of your chairs or tables or displays, probably costing you about 50-75 bucks for the night.

    Events rarely drive sales or sustainability in themselves, but are great marketing tools to bring people to your store between them to stock up. It's very easy for a full store to close due to poor sales.

    The hell kind of stores do you go to that have 4 people staffing FNM. In my experience there may be one extra person to run the event that is not the guy behind the register.

    While racing light mechs, your Urbanmech comes in second place, but only because it ran out of ammo.
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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    We used to do this sort of thing with a very different type of store but with similar logistics. We would lose about $2-4,000 running a major event, but make it up tenfold in the two months that followed from the folks who attended coming back after enjoying their time. It is a great marketing tool, but you will break even usually only if very lucky. And if you try to skimp it, you will pay in the opposite way.

    If you cut personnel and try to run it with a skeleton crew, people get dissatisfied and go to a better, more extravagantly funded store. If your store is left dirty or unappealing, bye bye customers. You really got to show the red carpet to make a tournament be a winning, long term marketing event.

  • SpaffySpaffy Fuck the Zero Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Separate from the Gambling discussion, there is at a minimum some degree of false advertising going on here that “This game contains micro-transactions” just doesn’t adequately cover.

    When Mom is out buying a game for little Jimmy, she needs to be able to clearly see on the front of the box that £60 does not, in fact, get her the full retail game she thinks she’s paying for including Darth Vader and the big laser.

    That is unlocked by either 4500 hours of play, or $15000, and unless she changes her parental settings then Jimmy, the little shit, can spend that much in minutes at the touch of a button. That needs to be clearly communicated.

    Spaffy on
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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    dang drafts
    Enc wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    I personally think digital CCGs should have marketplaces. One the big reasons I don't play Hearthstone much is because I need X legendary for a deck and the only way to get it is to throw money in a black hole and pray. But you can play Magic without ever buying boosters. It's still expensive, but I can put the deck I want into coolstuffinc or whatever and know I can drop $400 to have this deck or not.

    You can also pay ~10c to print out a few pages of cards on a photocopier and stuff them into sleeves to play, but for some reason that isn't allowed in most play circles.

    Because, clearly, you are a better gamer if you spend money on arbitrary goods for card unlocking rather than simply sitting together to play a game.

    Proxy tournaments in Magic used to be a pretty common thing until Wizards of the Coast cracked down on them.

    They can't stop you from running a proxy tournament, but they can withhold other perks from local game stores where such tournaments are held.

    Yeah, I mean that's the problem. So many of these circles are built around the games stores which, in turn, are complicit in encouraging the spending behavior (both because they need it to stay open as their profit margins are slim, and because Wizards will pull product if they don't). Its a cultural problem, and it is entirely toxic.

    Contrast set-based games with fixed decks or replayable, cooperative content (such as Board Games) which generally don't require micro-purchases for an equivalent amount of time of fun for a much lower price point. A quality product is made, and quality enjoyment is derived, but nobody is making $Texas off of it. Just a reasonable amount of sales from the publisher, who in turn uses that to sell expansions for a tidy profit.

    Like Catan or Arkham.

    Oh, yeah. I totally agree. I enjoy Magic as a game, but I've been pretty vocal about how the business model is a little bit pyramidy.

    It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but there's an aspect of that there.

    Running a tournament is usually a net-loss or break-even proposition for a game store. The incentive to run a tournament is to bring in foot traffic and sell cards and drive the singles market.

    A big distributor like Star City Games or Channel Fireball is buying, and opening, vast volumes of booster packs at wholesaler prices (roughly $2.20 per pack, or $79.20 per box). Compare to MSRP of $3.99 per pack or $143.64 per box. They have people paid minimum wage (or even volunteers) open pack after pack after pack, sort them, upload them to an inventory system, and sell them as singles. The prices then reach equilibrium based on this $2.20 per pack cost plus overhead, labor, and profit.

    Then they run a retail operation, either a storefront or a table at a tournament, where you can sell your cards back to them at 50-60% of their singles price... but the singles prices are already based on that 45% wholesaler markdown.

    If you're a game store and you can get adequate volume, that's a decent business model.

    If you're a player, and you're buying packs at MSRP, this is the equivalent of playing a casino game with roughly 25-33% rate of return. Even as casino games go, that's pretty bad.

    Wait, what, how can running a tournament be a losing proposition for a game store? Does magic force them to sell the packs for less than cost or something? It seems to me that running a draft or a intro day is pretty much surefire cash unless you don't get anyone through the door.

    I mean, even if the packs are sold at cost, thats still a few extra sales of sleeves and some drinks etc. The only thing 'used' is the general gaming area, which doesn't directly make money anyway. I mean sure, they could tear the gaming area out, and have more shelves but clearly they've decided they get more sales with a gaming area than without one.

    Are we saying that they would be better just pretending to have the tournement, buying packs of cards, and then just paying people minimum wage to open and sort them in the general gaming area? I mean, I guess that might be the case, but that ignores a lot of externalities.

    Labor and breakage.

    Cards are often marked down for the tournament, with more people required on payroll to run the event that night than usual (often two to three times more employees than would be on payroll in a normal night). Breakage and clean-up are considerable and often expensive, and if you don't keep your shop clean you will lose your customers and support from Wizards pretty quickly.

    So having 4 people working will cost you about 50 dollars an hour, including cleanup and setup hours. A tournament may, if you are lucky, will bring in enough to cover hour one through three, but not four, five, six, or seven as players continue to hang out and play. Most purchases are done at the start of the night, and while concessions can help support overhead it also leads to considerable spillage and staining, costing money to repair. Keep in mind the ~$3-4 you pay for a booster is retail, the actual profit margin is much less (if I remember correctly its about 80 cents a booster). So you need to sell ~60 boosters an hour to cover just your labor.

    Oh! Don't forget employee benefit/company taxes per employee! That's probably another 5-10 bucks an hour.

    Also keep in mind you need to bring in enough to keep the lights on and pay your rent. So that 50 bucks an hour is more like 100 bucks an hour, up from your usual ~60 a hour on a normal, non-tournament night when you can pay just one person to mind the register.

    Hey, we forgot to advertise! Lets add another one time cost of ~$200 to run a newspaper add, or another $20 for labor to run an email listserv to your purchase base. Mailers tend to work well, but at ~10c per mailer for postage your tournement might cost thousands, which is great to get boots into your store to remember it is there, but makes the tournement a losing proposition in itself.

    Soda stains on carpet? Maybe you can clean it out yourselves but even with you are likely looking at replacing your carpet roll two times a year because of it (unless you spring for tile or hard floors). A wildly successful tournament of 50 people will likely break 1-3 of your chairs or tables or displays, probably costing you about 50-75 bucks for the night.

    Events rarely drive sales or sustainability in themselves, but are great marketing tools to bring people to your store between them to stock up. It's very easy for a full store to close due to poor sales.

    The hell kind of stores do you go to that have 4 people staffing FNM. In my experience there may be one extra person to run the event that is not the guy behind the register.

    Depends on your city. Most of the larger Orlando stores tend to have 2-3 folks for Friday Night Magic and 5+ for a tournament. With usually a full store (40+ participants) for Friday Night Magic and often much more for tournaments in the side rooms, they are big affairs.

    A small town store probably can get away with 2 people because they only have maybe 12-20 folks in. Which is great! But their walk-in sales are likely equally small.

    For reference, this is my local store's main room:
    Store-12.jpg

    It's standing room only most fridays.

    Enc on
    FeralTryCatcherPolaritie
  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    dang drafts
    Enc wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    I personally think digital CCGs should have marketplaces. One the big reasons I don't play Hearthstone much is because I need X legendary for a deck and the only way to get it is to throw money in a black hole and pray. But you can play Magic without ever buying boosters. It's still expensive, but I can put the deck I want into coolstuffinc or whatever and know I can drop $400 to have this deck or not.

    You can also pay ~10c to print out a few pages of cards on a photocopier and stuff them into sleeves to play, but for some reason that isn't allowed in most play circles.

    Because, clearly, you are a better gamer if you spend money on arbitrary goods for card unlocking rather than simply sitting together to play a game.

    Proxy tournaments in Magic used to be a pretty common thing until Wizards of the Coast cracked down on them.

    They can't stop you from running a proxy tournament, but they can withhold other perks from local game stores where such tournaments are held.

    Yeah, I mean that's the problem. So many of these circles are built around the games stores which, in turn, are complicit in encouraging the spending behavior (both because they need it to stay open as their profit margins are slim, and because Wizards will pull product if they don't). Its a cultural problem, and it is entirely toxic.

    Contrast set-based games with fixed decks or replayable, cooperative content (such as Board Games) which generally don't require micro-purchases for an equivalent amount of time of fun for a much lower price point. A quality product is made, and quality enjoyment is derived, but nobody is making $Texas off of it. Just a reasonable amount of sales from the publisher, who in turn uses that to sell expansions for a tidy profit.

    Like Catan or Arkham.

    Oh, yeah. I totally agree. I enjoy Magic as a game, but I've been pretty vocal about how the business model is a little bit pyramidy.

    It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but there's an aspect of that there.

    Running a tournament is usually a net-loss or break-even proposition for a game store. The incentive to run a tournament is to bring in foot traffic and sell cards and drive the singles market.

    A big distributor like Star City Games or Channel Fireball is buying, and opening, vast volumes of booster packs at wholesaler prices (roughly $2.20 per pack, or $79.20 per box). Compare to MSRP of $3.99 per pack or $143.64 per box. They have people paid minimum wage (or even volunteers) open pack after pack after pack, sort them, upload them to an inventory system, and sell them as singles. The prices then reach equilibrium based on this $2.20 per pack cost plus overhead, labor, and profit.

    Then they run a retail operation, either a storefront or a table at a tournament, where you can sell your cards back to them at 50-60% of their singles price... but the singles prices are already based on that 45% wholesaler markdown.

    If you're a game store and you can get adequate volume, that's a decent business model.

    If you're a player, and you're buying packs at MSRP, this is the equivalent of playing a casino game with roughly 25-33% rate of return. Even as casino games go, that's pretty bad.

    Wait, what, how can running a tournament be a losing proposition for a game store? Does magic force them to sell the packs for less than cost or something? It seems to me that running a draft or a intro day is pretty much surefire cash unless you don't get anyone through the door.

    I mean, even if the packs are sold at cost, thats still a few extra sales of sleeves and some drinks etc. The only thing 'used' is the general gaming area, which doesn't directly make money anyway. I mean sure, they could tear the gaming area out, and have more shelves but clearly they've decided they get more sales with a gaming area than without one.

    Are we saying that they would be better just pretending to have the tournement, buying packs of cards, and then just paying people minimum wage to open and sort them in the general gaming area? I mean, I guess that might be the case, but that ignores a lot of externalities.

    Labor and breakage.

    Cards are often marked down for the tournament, with more people required on payroll to run the event that night than usual (often two to three times more employees than would be on payroll in a normal night). Breakage and clean-up are considerable and often expensive, and if you don't keep your shop clean you will lose your customers and support from Wizards pretty quickly.

    So having 4 people working will cost you about 50 dollars an hour, including cleanup and setup hours. A tournament may, if you are lucky, will bring in enough to cover hour one through three, but not four, five, six, or seven as players continue to hang out and play. Most purchases are done at the start of the night, and while concessions can help support overhead it also leads to considerable spillage and staining, costing money to repair. Keep in mind the ~$3-4 you pay for a booster is retail, the actual profit margin is much less (if I remember correctly its about 80 cents a booster). So you need to sell ~60 boosters an hour to cover just your labor.

    Oh! Don't forget employee benefit/company taxes per employee! That's probably another 5-10 bucks an hour.

    Also keep in mind you need to bring in enough to keep the lights on and pay your rent. So that 50 bucks an hour is more like 100 bucks an hour, up from your usual ~60 a hour on a normal, non-tournament night when you can pay just one person to mind the register.

    Hey, we forgot to advertise! Lets add another one time cost of ~$200 to run a newspaper add, or another $20 for labor to run an email listserv to your purchase base. Mailers tend to work well, but at ~10c per mailer for postage your tournement might cost thousands, which is great to get boots into your store to remember it is there, but makes the tournement a losing proposition in itself.

    Soda stains on carpet? Maybe you can clean it out yourselves but even with you are likely looking at replacing your carpet roll two times a year because of it (unless you spring for tile or hard floors). A wildly successful tournament of 50 people will likely break 1-3 of your chairs or tables or displays, probably costing you about 50-75 bucks for the night.

    Events rarely drive sales or sustainability in themselves, but are great marketing tools to bring people to your store between them to stock up. It's very easy for a full store to close due to poor sales.

    I guess I'm judging based on the store I go to where they have like, 80 pairs, managed by 4-5 staff playing on a dedicated section of the gaming floor with the entire gaming floor being polished concrete. I tend to only go to intro days, so thats 6 packs each, for a total of $1000 at 80c of profit a pack. The tournament is about 4 hours, so that's $1000 income used to pay $320 of additional staffing costs?

    I guess its kinda a case of 'the rich get richer'. If you have a huge gaming store, which already has a need to provide and clean durable separate gaming areas, with a big population of gamers who want to play, and a big area such that you can have regular activities and the tournament at the same time you can easily make money on a tournament.

    "That is cool" - Abraham Lincoln
    Enc
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    dang drafts
    Enc wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    I personally think digital CCGs should have marketplaces. One the big reasons I don't play Hearthstone much is because I need X legendary for a deck and the only way to get it is to throw money in a black hole and pray. But you can play Magic without ever buying boosters. It's still expensive, but I can put the deck I want into coolstuffinc or whatever and know I can drop $400 to have this deck or not.

    You can also pay ~10c to print out a few pages of cards on a photocopier and stuff them into sleeves to play, but for some reason that isn't allowed in most play circles.

    Because, clearly, you are a better gamer if you spend money on arbitrary goods for card unlocking rather than simply sitting together to play a game.

    Proxy tournaments in Magic used to be a pretty common thing until Wizards of the Coast cracked down on them.

    They can't stop you from running a proxy tournament, but they can withhold other perks from local game stores where such tournaments are held.

    Yeah, I mean that's the problem. So many of these circles are built around the games stores which, in turn, are complicit in encouraging the spending behavior (both because they need it to stay open as their profit margins are slim, and because Wizards will pull product if they don't). Its a cultural problem, and it is entirely toxic.

    Contrast set-based games with fixed decks or replayable, cooperative content (such as Board Games) which generally don't require micro-purchases for an equivalent amount of time of fun for a much lower price point. A quality product is made, and quality enjoyment is derived, but nobody is making $Texas off of it. Just a reasonable amount of sales from the publisher, who in turn uses that to sell expansions for a tidy profit.

    Like Catan or Arkham.

    Oh, yeah. I totally agree. I enjoy Magic as a game, but I've been pretty vocal about how the business model is a little bit pyramidy.

    It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but there's an aspect of that there.

    Running a tournament is usually a net-loss or break-even proposition for a game store. The incentive to run a tournament is to bring in foot traffic and sell cards and drive the singles market.

    A big distributor like Star City Games or Channel Fireball is buying, and opening, vast volumes of booster packs at wholesaler prices (roughly $2.20 per pack, or $79.20 per box). Compare to MSRP of $3.99 per pack or $143.64 per box. They have people paid minimum wage (or even volunteers) open pack after pack after pack, sort them, upload them to an inventory system, and sell them as singles. The prices then reach equilibrium based on this $2.20 per pack cost plus overhead, labor, and profit.

    Then they run a retail operation, either a storefront or a table at a tournament, where you can sell your cards back to them at 50-60% of their singles price... but the singles prices are already based on that 45% wholesaler markdown.

    If you're a game store and you can get adequate volume, that's a decent business model.

    If you're a player, and you're buying packs at MSRP, this is the equivalent of playing a casino game with roughly 25-33% rate of return. Even as casino games go, that's pretty bad.

    Wait, what, how can running a tournament be a losing proposition for a game store? Does magic force them to sell the packs for less than cost or something? It seems to me that running a draft or a intro day is pretty much surefire cash unless you don't get anyone through the door.

    I mean, even if the packs are sold at cost, thats still a few extra sales of sleeves and some drinks etc. The only thing 'used' is the general gaming area, which doesn't directly make money anyway. I mean sure, they could tear the gaming area out, and have more shelves but clearly they've decided they get more sales with a gaming area than without one.

    Are we saying that they would be better just pretending to have the tournement, buying packs of cards, and then just paying people minimum wage to open and sort them in the general gaming area? I mean, I guess that might be the case, but that ignores a lot of externalities.

    Labor and breakage.

    Cards are often marked down for the tournament, with more people required on payroll to run the event that night than usual (often two to three times more employees than would be on payroll in a normal night). Breakage and clean-up are considerable and often expensive, and if you don't keep your shop clean you will lose your customers and support from Wizards pretty quickly.

    So having 4 people working will cost you about 50 dollars an hour, including cleanup and setup hours. A tournament may, if you are lucky, will bring in enough to cover hour one through three, but not four, five, six, or seven as players continue to hang out and play. Most purchases are done at the start of the night, and while concessions can help support overhead it also leads to considerable spillage and staining, costing money to repair. Keep in mind the ~$3-4 you pay for a booster is retail, the actual profit margin is much less (if I remember correctly its about 80 cents a booster). So you need to sell ~60 boosters an hour to cover just your labor.

    Oh! Don't forget employee benefit/company taxes per employee! That's probably another 5-10 bucks an hour.

    Also keep in mind you need to bring in enough to keep the lights on and pay your rent. So that 50 bucks an hour is more like 100 bucks an hour, up from your usual ~60 a hour on a normal, non-tournament night when you can pay just one person to mind the register.

    Hey, we forgot to advertise! Lets add another one time cost of ~$200 to run a newspaper add, or another $20 for labor to run an email listserv to your purchase base. Mailers tend to work well, but at ~10c per mailer for postage your tournement might cost thousands, which is great to get boots into your store to remember it is there, but makes the tournement a losing proposition in itself.

    Soda stains on carpet? Maybe you can clean it out yourselves but even with you are likely looking at replacing your carpet roll two times a year because of it (unless you spring for tile or hard floors). A wildly successful tournament of 50 people will likely break 1-3 of your chairs or tables or displays, probably costing you about 50-75 bucks for the night.

    Events rarely drive sales or sustainability in themselves, but are great marketing tools to bring people to your store between them to stock up. It's very easy for a full store to close due to poor sales.

    I guess I'm judging based on the store I go to where they have like, 80 pairs, managed by 4-5 staff playing on a dedicated section of the gaming floor with the entire gaming floor being polished concrete. I tend to only go to intro days, so thats 6 packs each, for a total of $1000 at 80c of profit a pack. The tournament is about 4 hours, so that's $1000 income used to pay $320 of additional staffing costs?

    I guess its kinda a case of 'the rich get richer'. If you have a huge gaming store, which already has a need to provide and clean durable separate gaming areas, with a big population of gamers who want to play, and a big area such that you can have regular activities and the tournament at the same time you can easily make money on a tournament.

    Just so. There is a reason that Cool Stuff Inc. outperformed literally every Central Florida gaming shop. Their online profile gave them the initial edge which led to them getting larger and more fancy locations, which also serves as a buffer for their losses on game nights.

    The rent for the larger rooms is considerable, keep in mind. They own one building of the two or three Orlando locations which is a stand alone, but the one shown above is in a large shopping plaza and is one of the anchor shops for it.

    Feral
  • DacDac Registered User regular
    Tube wrote: »
    I actually really interested to know what people consider the difference between Lootboxes and things like CCGs, Kind Eggs etc. This isn't a trolling question, I'm genuinely interested.

    Well, for one, I can trade trading cards and other physical objects. Even if a card has no intrinsic value to me, I can at least theoretically exchange it. Most games with lootboxes do not allow this, nor is any in-game currency usually tradeable.

    Although it may seem superficial, the dressing also plays a factor. There's not an explosion of lights and color when you open a pack of trading cards with visuals designed to excite the pleasure centers of your brain, tense in anticipation, where when you bust, your brain is primed for another dose of dopamine. This aspect is aggravating because it's one of those 'know it when you see it' things that's difficult to narrow down to exact parameters. There's a reason, however, that slot machines are designed the way they are, and why lootbox systems emulate them.

    I also didn't pay sometimes in excess of $100 just for the pleasure being able to collect the things, which is where a lot of the salt comes from.

    Steam: catseye543
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  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    dang drafts
    Enc wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Enc wrote: »
    HamHamJ wrote: »
    I personally think digital CCGs should have marketplaces. One the big reasons I don't play Hearthstone much is because I need X legendary for a deck and the only way to get it is to throw money in a black hole and pray. But you can play Magic without ever buying boosters. It's still expensive, but I can put the deck I want into coolstuffinc or whatever and know I can drop $400 to have this deck or not.

    You can also pay ~10c to print out a few pages of cards on a photocopier and stuff them into sleeves to play, but for some reason that isn't allowed in most play circles.

    Because, clearly, you are a better gamer if you spend money on arbitrary goods for card unlocking rather than simply sitting together to play a game.

    Proxy tournaments in Magic used to be a pretty common thing until Wizards of the Coast cracked down on them.

    They can't stop you from running a proxy tournament, but they can withhold other perks from local game stores where such tournaments are held.

    Yeah, I mean that's the problem. So many of these circles are built around the games stores which, in turn, are complicit in encouraging the spending behavior (both because they need it to stay open as their profit margins are slim, and because Wizards will pull product if they don't). Its a cultural problem, and it is entirely toxic.

    Contrast set-based games with fixed decks or replayable, cooperative content (such as Board Games) which generally don't require micro-purchases for an equivalent amount of time of fun for a much lower price point. A quality product is made, and quality enjoyment is derived, but nobody is making $Texas off of it. Just a reasonable amount of sales from the publisher, who in turn uses that to sell expansions for a tidy profit.

    Like Catan or Arkham.

    Oh, yeah. I totally agree. I enjoy Magic as a game, but I've been pretty vocal about how the business model is a little bit pyramidy.

    It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but there's an aspect of that there.

    Running a tournament is usually a net-loss or break-even proposition for a game store. The incentive to run a tournament is to bring in foot traffic and sell cards and drive the singles market.

    A big distributor like Star City Games or Channel Fireball is buying, and opening, vast volumes of booster packs at wholesaler prices (roughly $2.20 per pack, or $79.20 per box). Compare to MSRP of $3.99 per pack or $143.64 per box. They have people paid minimum wage (or even volunteers) open pack after pack after pack, sort them, upload them to an inventory system, and sell them as singles. The prices then reach equilibrium based on this $2.20 per pack cost plus overhead, labor, and profit.

    Then they run a retail operation, either a storefront or a table at a tournament, where you can sell your cards back to them at 50-60% of their singles price... but the singles prices are already based on that 45% wholesaler markdown.

    If you're a game store and you can get adequate volume, that's a decent business model.

    If you're a player, and you're buying packs at MSRP, this is the equivalent of playing a casino game with roughly 25-33% rate of return. Even as casino games go, that's pretty bad.

    Wait, what, how can running a tournament be a losing proposition for a game store? Does magic force them to sell the packs for less than cost or something? It seems to me that running a draft or a intro day is pretty much surefire cash unless you don't get anyone through the door.

    I mean, even if the packs are sold at cost, thats still a few extra sales of sleeves and some drinks etc. The only thing 'used' is the general gaming area, which doesn't directly make money anyway. I mean sure, they could tear the gaming area out, and have more shelves but clearly they've decided they get more sales with a gaming area than without one.

    Are we saying that they would be better just pretending to have the tournement, buying packs of cards, and then just paying people minimum wage to open and sort them in the general gaming area? I mean, I guess that might be the case, but that ignores a lot of externalities.

    Labor and breakage.

    Cards are often marked down for the tournament, with more people required on payroll to run the event that night than usual (often two to three times more employees than would be on payroll in a normal night). Breakage and clean-up are considerable and often expensive, and if you don't keep your shop clean you will lose your customers and support from Wizards pretty quickly.

    So having 4 people working will cost you about 50 dollars an hour, including cleanup and setup hours. A tournament may, if you are lucky, will bring in enough to cover hour one through three, but not four, five, six, or seven as players continue to hang out and play. Most purchases are done at the start of the night, and while concessions can help support overhead it also leads to considerable spillage and staining, costing money to repair. Keep in mind the ~$3-4 you pay for a booster is retail, the actual profit margin is much less (if I remember correctly its about 80 cents a booster). So you need to sell ~60 boosters an hour to cover just your labor.

    Oh! Don't forget employee benefit/company taxes per employee! That's probably another 5-10 bucks an hour.

    Also keep in mind you need to bring in enough to keep the lights on and pay your rent. So that 50 bucks an hour is more like 100 bucks an hour, up from your usual ~60 a hour on a normal, non-tournament night when you can pay just one person to mind the register.

    Hey, we forgot to advertise! Lets add another one time cost of ~$200 to run a newspaper add, or another $20 for labor to run an email listserv to your purchase base. Mailers tend to work well, but at ~10c per mailer for postage your tournement might cost thousands, which is great to get boots into your store to remember it is there, but makes the tournement a losing proposition in itself.

    Soda stains on carpet? Maybe you can clean it out yourselves but even with you are likely looking at replacing your carpet roll two times a year because of it (unless you spring for tile or hard floors). A wildly successful tournament of 50 people will likely break 1-3 of your chairs or tables or displays, probably costing you about 50-75 bucks for the night.

    Events rarely drive sales or sustainability in themselves, but are great marketing tools to bring people to your store between them to stock up. It's very easy for a full store to close due to poor sales.

    I guess I'm judging based on the store I go to where they have like, 80 pairs, managed by 4-5 staff playing on a dedicated section of the gaming floor with the entire gaming floor being polished concrete. I tend to only go to intro days, so thats 6 packs each, for a total of $1000 at 80c of profit a pack. The tournament is about 4 hours, so that's $1000 income used to pay $320 of additional staffing costs?

    I guess its kinda a case of 'the rich get richer'. If you have a huge gaming store, which already has a need to provide and clean durable separate gaming areas, with a big population of gamers who want to play, and a big area such that you can have regular activities and the tournament at the same time you can easily make money on a tournament.

    Just so. There is a reason that Cool Stuff Inc. outperformed literally every Central Florida gaming shop. Their online profile gave them the initial edge which led to them getting larger and more fancy locations, which also serves as a buffer for their losses on game nights.

    The rent for the larger rooms is considerable, keep in mind. They own one building of the two or three Orlando locations which is a stand alone, but the one shown above is in a large shopping plaza and is one of the anchor shops for it.

    Yes, but those increased costs are their 'operating expenses' just to be who they are. They effectively require the big, open, easily maintened per sq/ft areas, to be the stores they are, and their own profiles and stuff mean that tournements are good ways to fill those spaces.

    My mistake is comparing them to other stores I suppose! If you are AT&T park already, then hosting a baseball game for 40k fans is probably a money making idea that you actually need to do to use your space. You can't afford to only have 20 people in the store/ballpark, so you need to keep it full. If you are just some random with a backyard baseball diamond, trying to pack in 4k people might do more harm than good!

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  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    This is also a problem for restaurants and retail shops that are starting up as small businesses. Being too successful is as likely to break your company as having no customers. You really have to balance your capacity for population/food spoilage/inventory stocking/labor just perfectly or it all goes to shit.

    This is getting far afield from Lootboxes though. So I'll stop here.

  • ObiFettObiFett Use the Force As You WishRegistered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Marty81 wrote: »
    In case you're wondering how the investment community thinks about all of this

    EA should raise prices, not lower them, says KeyBanc analyst.

    The guy who wrote that piece is an investor analyst for EA (and Comcast) and sits in on EA's conference calls. So, he kind of has an agenda.

    https://imgur.com/gallery/VpdEe

    ObiFett on
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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    oh hey, there's a point. Penny Arcade does "blind boxes" for pins and I didn't feel like that was gambling at all, even though it took like 30ish boxes to amass a couple of full sets, because all the remainder had trade value. Particularly the Mike / Jerry trading times are great because they will take basically any pin in trade for something better... it creates a floor below which basic set pins never drop.

    The physical aspect and trade value of "extras" really changes the dynamic vs loot boxes where you just recycle the trash for low-value dust or whatever.

    spool32 on
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  • SpaffySpaffy Fuck the Zero Registered User regular
    ObiFett wrote: »
    Marty81 wrote: »
    In case you're wondering how the investment community thinks about all of this

    EA should raise prices, not lower them, says KeyBanc analyst.

    The guy who wrote that piece is an investor analyst for EA (and Comcast) and sits in on EA's conference calls. So, he kind of has an agenda.

    https://imgur.com/gallery/VpdEe

    Holy shit fuck that guy. It’s a Multiplayer game. The hours of playtime beyond the single player game are enabled by other players in lieu of actual developer generated content. Unless you’re gonna pay them all for their time, shut it, EA investor douche.

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  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    Iblis wrote: »
    Xaquin wrote: »
    why are we assuming children are doing this?

    children do not have income. the amount of lootboxes they do or do not get depends solely on their parents (or cool Uncle David or whoever)

    Kids get allowances, or do chores for money, etc. They then don't need a credit card to buy them, you can pick up gift cards at the drug store around the corner. There's lots of ways for kids to buy them without parental involvement aside from trusting kids with money.

    Where I was going with this is so what if kids blow their money on dumb crap? I learned when I was 14 that blowing my allowance on first issue image comics was stupid, why can't these kids learn the same?

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Xaquin wrote: »
    Iblis wrote: »
    Xaquin wrote: »
    why are we assuming children are doing this?

    children do not have income. the amount of lootboxes they do or do not get depends solely on their parents (or cool Uncle David or whoever)

    Kids get allowances, or do chores for money, etc. They then don't need a credit card to buy them, you can pick up gift cards at the drug store around the corner. There's lots of ways for kids to buy them without parental involvement aside from trusting kids with money.

    Where I was going with this is so what if kids blow their money on dumb crap? I learned when I was 14 that blowing my allowance on first issue image comics was stupid, why can't these kids learn the same?

    Because gambling has been widely studied and proven to cause psychological harm and dependencies that last through adulthood when introduced in childhood. There is also a growing consensus among the neuroscience community that gambling behaviors cause stunted growth in older teens in terms of their effort-to-reward evaluations and ability to determine risk.

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  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Xaquin wrote: »
    Iblis wrote: »
    Xaquin wrote: »
    why are we assuming children are doing this?

    children do not have income. the amount of lootboxes they do or do not get depends solely on their parents (or cool Uncle David or whoever)

    Kids get allowances, or do chores for money, etc. They then don't need a credit card to buy them, you can pick up gift cards at the drug store around the corner. There's lots of ways for kids to buy them without parental involvement aside from trusting kids with money.

    Where I was going with this is so what if kids blow their money on dumb crap? I learned when I was 14 that blowing my allowance on first issue image comics was stupid, why can't these kids learn the same?

    The concern is kids being introduced to gambling which can encourage them to adopt some extremely harmful habits.

    Edit: Gambling goes well beyond some simple buyer's remorse.

    Quid on
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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Xaquin wrote: »
    Iblis wrote: »
    Xaquin wrote: »
    why are we assuming children are doing this?

    children do not have income. the amount of lootboxes they do or do not get depends solely on their parents (or cool Uncle David or whoever)

    Kids get allowances, or do chores for money, etc. They then don't need a credit card to buy them, you can pick up gift cards at the drug store around the corner. There's lots of ways for kids to buy them without parental involvement aside from trusting kids with money.

    Where I was going with this is so what if kids blow their money on dumb crap? I learned when I was 14 that blowing my allowance on first issue image comics was stupid, why can't these kids learn the same?

    From way back in 2011, a public service warning...

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  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited November 2017
    Ouch

    Edit: also, very good points all

    Xaquin on
    Quid
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Giving children a taste for gambling goes way beyond loot boxes. I recently went to a Dave and Busters after coming from Las Vegas and it struck me how similar they were. There was even a slot machine.

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  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    Spaffy wrote: »
    ObiFett wrote: »
    Marty81 wrote: »
    In case you're wondering how the investment community thinks about all of this

    EA should raise prices, not lower them, says KeyBanc analyst.

    The guy who wrote that piece is an investor analyst for EA (and Comcast) and sits in on EA's conference calls. So, he kind of has an agenda.

    https://imgur.com/gallery/VpdEe

    Holy shit fuck that guy. It’s a Multiplayer game. The hours of playtime beyond the single player game are enabled by other players in lieu of actual developer generated content. Unless you’re gonna pay them all for their time, shut it, EA investor douche.

    Yeah, its a misunderstanding of the relationship between average player time, median player time, and 1% player time.

    Average player time is VASTLY higher than median player time. I'd bet that median player time for a popular multiplayer game is like, 5 hours.

    10% population -> Buy game, play less than 5 hours
    10-60% population -> Buy game, play 5-10 hours
    60-80% population -> Buy game, play 10-20 hours
    80%-99% population -> Buy game, play 20-100 hours
    99% + population -> Buy game, play 10k hours on average

    Average time played is ~129 hours! What a deal. Game Company must send prices through the roof! By movie rates, this game should cost $1000 for each player! But it neglects that people aren't making their buying decisions based on the 'mean time spent gaming'. Their making their buying decisions based on the amount of time they think they will spend having fun in the game.

    Now, people tend to think they will have more free time than they do, and think they will enjoy new products more than they do, so most people probably think they will get 20 hours of fun from a game. So ~$3 per hour of fun. In fact, they only play about half of that, so $6 per hour of fun.

    You can't predict your mega users in advance, so you can't single them out for higher costs, and you need to remember that your mega users are the durable 'partners' that your transient users will play with. They are effectively creating a free AI for you to use for your new players.

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  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    Honestly the whole argument is asinine, I shouldn’t have to pay $1000 for a frozen DVD just because my 5 year old watched it every day for 6 months.

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  • RozRoz Boss of InternetRegistered User regular
    syndalis wrote: »
    I like the idea of "vegas legal" being a starting point.

    I think it would be great to show the following things somewhere:

    - standard distribution rate in a loot box of rares, uncommons and common drops posted publically
    - chances of getting an extra rare card (1:30,000 or 1:25, which is it?)
    - the actual value of winnings you just gambled for - make it clear you spent 4.99 to get 37 cents of stuff.
    - the ability to "cash in" your winnings back into the game for credit. screw the open market and steam trades. Obi Wan Kenobi is a 100 dollar chip? Just give me 100, thanks.

    That would much more closely match gambling, expose just how bad the current system is, and skew towards lower prices on loot boxes or better distributions.

    I'm not sure "make this more like real gambling to show how it's actually real gambling" is a great argument though.

    I remain unconvinced at most of the claims from people who say that this is predatory or encourages addictive behavior. We've had kinder eggs and Magic the gather for 25 years now, and I've not seen any studies that conclusively show those items cause addictive or personally destructive behavior. If they exist, please share. I'm open to shifting on this position.

    I think posting the odds is a great idea and is an area of common ground, but I'm on the fence regarding secondary markets. On one hand they'll help curve some of the more excessive behaviors since you can outright buy what you want, on the other it's a movement towards being real gambling since the items have now material value.

  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    Honestly the whole argument is asinine, I shouldn’t have to pay $1000 for a frozen DVD just because my 5 year old watched it every day for 6 months.

    It sounds like you've already paid a dire price, indeed.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Roz wrote: »
    syndalis wrote: »
    I like the idea of "vegas legal" being a starting point.

    I think it would be great to show the following things somewhere:

    - standard distribution rate in a loot box of rares, uncommons and common drops posted publically
    - chances of getting an extra rare card (1:30,000 or 1:25, which is it?)
    - the actual value of winnings you just gambled for - make it clear you spent 4.99 to get 37 cents of stuff.
    - the ability to "cash in" your winnings back into the game for credit. screw the open market and steam trades. Obi Wan Kenobi is a 100 dollar chip? Just give me 100, thanks.

    That would much more closely match gambling, expose just how bad the current system is, and skew towards lower prices on loot boxes or better distributions.

    I'm not sure "make this more like real gambling to show how it's actually real gambling" is a great argument though.

    I remain unconvinced at most of the claims from people who say that this is predatory or encourages addictive behavior. We've had kinder eggs and Magic the gather for 25 years now, and I've not seen any studies that conclusively show those items cause addictive or personally destructive behavior. If they exist, please share. I'm open to shifting on this position.

    I think posting the odds is a great idea and is an area of common ground, but I'm on the fence regarding secondary markets. On one hand they'll help curve some of the more excessive behaviors since you can outright buy what you want, on the other it's a movement towards being real gambling since the items have now material value.

    As longs as you can't cash out, they don't have a material value. Allowing a market ingame doesn't give it a material value above the fact that you're spending really money (for a chance) to get it does.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
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