Friday, December 23, 2011

Follow-up: More than just a business

I noticed recently that there was an interesting announcement made my Privateer Press regarding the Boneswarm model.  If you're not aware of what I'm talking about, let me provide some important backstory.  First, the Boneswarm is an old metal model from the old Iron Kingdoms line (made for the RPG) that has recently been made into a playable light warbeast for the Blindwater Congregation in Hordes: Domination (see my spoiler on it here).  There was some drama about the transition of this old Iron Kingdoms model into the Minions line because there was a significant price increase (which I discussed towards the end of this article) from $10 to $19.  Privateer Press has prided itself as being a company that stays connected to their player base, and this was a surprising move for them, and there were some unhappy customers.

The Boneswarm was also a model
from the old Iron Kingdoms line

As soon as the Boneswarm was announced as a new light warbeast for Domination, many people went online immediately and picked up the old models on discount for as little as only $6.  Privateer Press meanwhile faced some scrutiny over the price increase.  Some of the loyal fans defended the change, citing increases in the cost of materials (tin - a primary component of the metal pewter - has been increasing in price steadily for the past few years), some have cited development costs for a new model, and others even said cynically that the 200+% increase was due to the cost of printing the card.  In either case, in my editorial on being more than just a business, I said:

In this author's opinion, PP needs to tread lightly, as they have done a great job making deposits in their customer "Love Bank" and this is one big withdrawal.  This has the potential to blow up in their face, especially considering they have experienced incredible growth this last year (I've heard 400%!) and I'm sure that much of that comes from those emigrating from GW games like Warhammer 40k and Fantasy Battles because of some unpopular company decisions.  Let's hope that PP will at least address this issue publicly (they aren't hiding the fact that the price hasn't changed) and reassure their fans.  They won't lose anyone, but people will certainly become skeptical, and that's not a place you want to be at in such a niche market.

Privateer Press has done a great job of connecting with their fans and pricing their models according to a very reasonable model, and have proven that they are eager to produce models as cheaply for their customers as possible.  For example, a box of 3 of the old metal Man o' War Shocktroopers was more expensive than the current plastic box of 5Fortunately, it seems that Privateer Press heeded my advice, at least partially (although I cannot claim that they actually read my particular article), and made an important announcement a couple of days ago here, part of which I will quote here for you:
"The Boneswarm model releasing January 2012 is a reissue of the model previously available for the Iron Kingdoms Role Playing Game. The current blister pack includes the Boneswarm’s all-new stat card.
Players who have already purchased the Iron Kingdoms model can request a complimentary copy of the HORDES stat card by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to..."

So does this solve the problem?  I'm not sure.  It does, however, show some good-will to their players by publicly acknowledging that the Boneswarm was a pre-existing model in their old line.  Are they reducing the cost of the new models?  No.  They are providing free Boneswarm cards, however, which totally destroys the [cynical] argument that the card was the reason for the huge jump in price.  I suspect that the increase in the cost of production materials is the likely culprit for the increase, as it was the reason for GW to switch to Finecast, and PP has been slowly converted to resin-metal hybrid kits to keep costs down (and keeping prices consistent for the customer), so there is some truth to it.  At the very least, Privateer Press has made a puclic acknowledgement and is doing something to help their customers without penalizing them by making them buy a card.  Customer perception is so vital in the miniatures game industry since the community is relatively small and I think this announcement has at least redeemed Privateer Press partially by listening to their customers and helping them out instead of penalizing them for buying a cheaper model.

 Steam-Powered Gamer will be off for the next two days, so have yourselves a Merry Christmas, and if you're Jewish, enjoy the 5th and 6th nights of Hanukkah!  Make sure to also check out my latest article on 3++ is the new black!
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