2/17/98 By Lisa Goins, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine, http://home.fuse.net/dwarven_tavern
Since the interview with Andon Unlimited and Steve Jackson Games I was able to get response from Palladium and Ral Partha in regards to questions and how they feel about GENCON.
The first is the e-mail interview request response from Palladium Books, Inc.
DTC* Most people are wondering if this is strictly a business decision or a political one, since Palladium and WoTC have clashed in the past.
>>Palladium's decision not to attend Gen Con was purely a business decision, for reasons I've noted on the PalladiumWeb Page (www.palladiumbooks.com). Whatever issues Palladium has had with WoTC in the past, they have been resolved and left in the past. Both companies have moved on. If there are any "political" overtones, it's that we feel the price increase is unjustified, will hurt the smaller companies, and Palladium will not support such a move.
DTC* Since Palladium makes a good profit margin at Gen Con, will not attending cause a dip in profits, or do you have plans to attend or release a new product to cover this?
>>No. Gen Con sales represent only a tiny fraction of our annual sales, and it's not like people aren't going to buy the products because we aren't there. Gamers will just have to go to their favorite store and get them. Besides, I believe theArmory Booth will be offering a fair selection of Palladium products at Gen Con. Palladium already has a very ambitious schedule of releases for 1998. We're shooting for approximately 20 new sourcebooks for virtually every one of our RPG lines, so we don't have to add anything to our current line up to boost sales.
DTC* With the changes in the Gaming Industry buy outs, how do you see Palladium positioning itself in the industry?
>>One of the catch sayings at the Palladium offices is that we don't want to be the biggest, just the best. And the best, to me, is doing games that are fun and tantalize the imagination.
For my wife, Maryann, and I, after a certain point, making money is no longer an issue -- you can only spend so much, so fast, and Maryann and I just don't have caviar tastes (except, maybe, when it comes to collecting artwork and Maryanns traveling). Consequently, we would rather see Palladium Books produce 12-20 high quality and truly exciting and fun products a year, than 40 that miss the mark.
It has been our ability to produce quality, fun RPG products that enable us to sell in large quantities and keep our prices low. I'll be working to keep that practice for years to come.Unlike some companies with aspirations in other markets like film and computers, the Palladium madmen really do love role-playing and that's what we all want to do. Please don't get me wrong, I'd love to see a movie or TVseries based on several of Palladium's role-playing games, along with novels, comic books, action figures, computer and Nintendo games, and all that jazz. That's why we have a licensing agent. ButPalladium itself, will probably stay focused on producing role-playing games. It's what we know, love and do best.
DTC* What direction would you like to see the industry take?
>>I think many companies need to settle down, relax and concentrate on producing good product. They need to get back to basics, listen to their fans, and give them what they want. It's been my experience that the cream rises tothe top, and a good, exciting product will be found by the fans, especially in a niche market like role-playing. Substantial over flashy but empty and unsatisfying style.As for trends, I think you'll see role-playing making a strong recovery. Despite all the other types of cool games on the market, there really isn't anything like role-playing. It's here to stay!
DTC* What goals in the next several years do you see Palladium wishing to
>>I'd love to see Palladium get product out on time! We're working on it. I'd also like to see us cultivate a half dozen or so regular, reliable, freelance writers -- something I think we're building right now. Like I said before, we really just want to continue to produce fun RPGs that people love to play. I'd also like to see us double in size, but I don't think I'd want to expand beyond that. I fear getting too big might take away that personal touch at Palladium and cause us to lose sight of what the fans want.If the business isn't fun, it's not worth running -- at least for me. That having been said, we hope to license Rifts® and other Palladium properties to other markets like electronic games, comics and film. This is something we're working on now and have several exciting prospects under discussion.
DTC* Looking at your web site, you supply convention support. Will you change this now regarding the latest developments? Do you feel conventions, in general, are a good way to reach your target market?
>>We love to support conventions with give-aways like posters, catalogs, and prizes. That will never change. The latest developments with regard to Gen Con are limited entirely to Gen Con and has no negative impact on our participation with other game conventions. Conventions are a great way for like minded people who share the same hobby to get together, talk, goof around, and have fun. I've been a comic book convention goer since I was a teenager. Going to those Comic-Cons when I was a kid are among the most memorable and fun experiences of my life. Gee, I hope that doesn't sound pathetic, but I had fantastic times at them.
DTC* Do you feel that conventions have gotten pricey as well as low profit makers?
>>The value and cost of a convention varies dramatically from show to show. Yes, I think some shows, like Gen Con, have gotten pricey, not just for the Exhibitors, but more importantly, for the gamers who attend.
DTC** This completes the end of my e-mail interview with Palladium. Following are Ral Partha's comments via e-mail onGENCON
Ral Partha said:
> What Steve Jackson wrote was true. Booth space went way up and they eliminated their preferred booth space, marginal booth space and worse booth space price codes and have only one booth space price and that went up and it is the highest price. Steve is right again when he states that those not attending will likely be known as being out of business. I am sure many companies will not attend this year. Ral Partha has already sent in it's space sheet with 1/2 the money last week. This will assure we get the space we want. Our bill did go up by 50% even though we receive the grandfather reduced price. I guess you have to pay to play.
> Gen Con is the largest and to try to substitute World Science Fiction Convention to replace it is a noble effort but a failure in the short run. If World Science Fiction Convention ever becomes a potential profitable show, we will attend. Baltimore has much higher hotel costs, food costs,and is a lot father away from Cincinnati (*editor's note: Ral Partha is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) so gas will be higher, an extra day of employees would have to be paid for, etc.
> To me, Gen Con was the first national gaming show and it contains sentimental value as I attended back in the late sixties when the main game was Dawn Patrol. I can remember Gary (Gygax) and his daughters running the hotdog stand.TSR wasn't created or wasn't known to anybody other than the persons within the company. The dealer area was about 10 feet by 6 feet downstairs on a bar. No kidding. We weren't in business then either.
Our first Gen Con as a company was in August, 1975. Since that time, Gen Con has been an opportunity to gain new Parthites or in recent years maintain Parthites. .
>The same holds true at Gama or any other con we attend whether big or small. Gen Con does provide an avenue to show our products to individuals from around the world attending. We do manage to cover expenses through our retail sales while having a venue for advertisement directly to the end user. I think this is important as we can see first hand the items - whether ours or another company's - which sell.
>Gen Con is very important to me for two other reasons. The first may seem cruel to point out to a store owner. If we do especially well at Gen Con, the exact reason is because distributors and stores are not doing their job providing our figures. This is not a theory without basis. In years our sales through distribution declines, our sales at Gen Con reflect this in an inverse way. Distribution declining sales = great Gen Con Sales and the worse those distribution sales are, the better our sales at Gen Con. The distributors and retailers have done a poor job of providing our products to their customers. Distribution increased sales = poor Gen Con sales and maybe even a loss at that show and the better the distribution sales are,the worse our sales are at Gen Con. The stores and distributors have done a good job that year in keeping our products available for their customers.
>In addition to this fact, almost no stores in the country carry our entire line of miniatures. We bring everything to Gen Conand customers can view everything we have and not just a picture of it but the real deal. You don't know how overwhelming this is to many individuals who walk through our booth. We release items weekly usually and only print one catalog for the year. Many of these releases are not within that catalog and this is the customers' first ability to see those items. In many instances, the new releases are bought initially and solicited by the distributors to their stores. When a store buys this release or not, the figure will likely sell out leaving none available for view by future store customers and that figure is more than likely forgotten since it is not contained within our catalog nor on a price sheet. Gen Con, because it is the largest con in this country for gamers, affords the best chance to allow the most retail customers to see our products both new and old. We bring sculptors and experts in our product lines to Gen Con because we can afford to do so because of the sales generated. Our customers can talk directly with our sculptors and can have their every question answered by us. We know our products far better than a substitute company that might represent us at this show or any others should we be unable due to financial contraints to attend.
>The second reason for my attending Gen Con and wanting to keep this convention going strong is the large amount of U.S. stores and distributors along with international stores and distributors I have been able to meet and develope a relationship with. Because of the way the distribution system works - we sell to the distributors but the distributors protect their customer list from other distributors and manufacturers both of which these distributors are afraid will sell to their customers direct or steal their customers if they are known - we get to meet and come to know many of those selling our products. This face to face is far better than a fax, web site, e-mail, letter or phone call. International stores and distributors are attracted only to Gen Con and some to Gama. It is my chance to see customers who have since become my friends once or twice yearly. Gen Con is also a drawing card for new distributors, stores or international stores and distributors who want to buy products. I sell far more to these clients than to individuals as a result of being at Gen Con. These sales would not be forthcoming without Gen Con or another magnet show. It is the main reason for my wanting to continue being there as opposed to someplace else that would have start up problems. I don't want to wait for years to gain the same audience.
>Right now, the lifeboat is sinking and we should be bailing and not looking on the horizon to find another boat.
Cooperation, A Science Fiction Role-Playing System.
By Charles Walter
Games Publishers Association member
Price in US $ Unlisted on book
2/11/98 Review by Lisa Goins Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine
This book is a science fiction role-playing system complete with overtones of AD&D, Traveler, and LARPing to some extent.
It contains 2 books within its covers. This information covers characters, and the second one specs and details for the game on the non-glare paper. This is good because it reads like a textbook. Readers will find GM and player details overlapping but there are some understandable examples to clarify points. The job of describing stats, followed by straight forward examples and the scientific info, while decent and not consuming, would most likely be boring for anyone who has NASA's website bookmarked. Cover art and graphics are poor, which detracts from the potential customers buying this game. Character sheets are included but permission to copy can be found on page 1 instead of the sheets. I found several valuable parts of information missing. The cover doesn't state a recommend age level for the game, of course no price listed, and usually you'll find the companies or producers name someplace visible. Flexible GM's and players might consider this book as a side adventure in a campaign or additional reference manual to throw players off the scent of the real objective.
Copyrighted by Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine 2/11/98
Issue 2, Volume 2 (Hardcopy magazine)
US Cover price $3.50
2/11/98 Review by Lisa Goins, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine
"Been there, done that, and honey I know what your going through." That was what I was thinking when I saw this magazine. It brought back a lot of old times when Jeff and I spent long hours creating, printing, collating, distributing Dwarven Tavernin hardcopy form.
"Fading into review…"
This magazine's main topic can be seen reflected in it's name. The black and white cover on natural paper was laid out well. Topic art and the proudly displayed GPA (Games Publishers Association--formally known as Small Games Publishers Association) were found on the cover. Inside format contents trivals like letter and details. One detail in particular caught my eye. The mention of "no giga pets were harmed in the production of this magazine…", yes, I read the small print. However, at DTC 2 out of 4 Christmas giga pets call out at 3a.m. from the dungeon. Their execution has been numerously delayed due to the ability to cloak.
As per usual, when you have limited staff and long nights, errors and typos are a fact of life. My advice here is to have a fresh pair of eyes look over your work as well as a final pre-press spell check. Sometimes a grammar check will pick up misspellings that your spell check won't as well.
Now this magazine does cover it's target market videos, music, TV series, and RPG games. What it doesn't cover is newsgroups or conventions in this issue. The information covered in the areas represented gave me enough facts to make a decision on if I should rent or purchase the producted reviewed, but I don't buy that A+ rating for every article. Folks also want to see the F- products too! This issue also featured a short story collectively wrote and 4 pages of black and white comic artwork with story line. I have to admit I wasn't crazy about the short story but I was impressed with the 4 pages of artwork. The story was slow to unfold but I would like to know what happened--a reason for return customers.
This magazine had sparse advertisement and hopefully will be successful at obtaining more, eventually offering a color cover, which is crucial for hardcopy magazines to succeed. This magazine shows professionalism in formatting (this shown by the research and professional cons and organizations it has attended or belongs to), which will help keep it afloat. In the day and age when magazines come and go I think we will see this one around for sometime. I give it a B+ (Actually that's an A-).
Review copyrighted by Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine 2/11/98.
Anime Squared is a proper magazine in which we found all entertainment news together. All kinds and ages of people found their data in this magazine. I am sure that this second volume also popular in the market and you pick the right content to write about.