A few days ago, a friend of ours (Nick of Meeples fame) wrote the article below regarding the sad news that Fenris Games was closing, and the general state of the gaming hobby for small producers.
Please read it before continuing with this article:
As a small producer ourselves, and being friends with many more across the hobby, we understand the financial pressures that such people are under.
Having to do most things yourself takes time and energy, and the financial rewards are very slim. A 5% dip in sales one month can mean not paying your bills, having to put products on sale because cash flow is king in small business, which in turn wrecks your margins for that short term boost. We know producers who have sales simply to meet the gas bill. These producers are one bad month away from having to chuck it in and get a ‘proper job’.
In the short term all we can do is appeal to all you hobbyists to put some cash across the trade stands of the small producers at shows. To order from them online and not get in a tiz if they don’t have the delivery times of Amazon. I once waited nine months for three gorgeous trolls from Fenris and it was worth every single minute. Support their kickstarters – a marvellous, yet dangerous tool for small businesses to create new ranges and realise fantastic projects.
In the longer term though we small producers have to re-examine our business models. Casting in our sheds, writing in our attics, hoping friendly local games shops will stock our stuff, and relying on shows to sell physical product is a model is that we cannot expect to compete with the big boys.
We have to consider how we can leverage all the new technology out there. Most of us have websites and some of us have webshops – the latter of which eats up far too much time for a one-man band – which is a start. However, we now live in a world where 3D printing is coming into its own, and print on demand is reaching decent quality levels.
So should all those really talented sculptors, who spend two thirds of their time coaxing recalcitrant casting machines to produce product, re-skill and go digital?
Should authors like us dump our printers, stop packing and sending out physical products, and instead do a deal with one of the big POD companies, or just go entirely digital?
So what do you hobbyists think?