Over on /r/Warhammer there’s a rather aggravating discussion going on regarding FLGSs – friendly local gaming stores.DorkTower1117The guy who posted it seems to mostly be interested in a circle-jerk about how LGSs are dying due to consumer apathy. Whenever someone starts to talk about monetisation strategies and the changing business environment he becomes defensive and critical.

That doesn’t change the fact that the discussion is important.

Sure, it’s not important in the way mass deforestation and our over reliance on fossil fuels are important but in our little personal worlds it can be quite a bit deal.

The crux of the issue is simply that the business environment has changed. It does that, you know?

I’m not sure how long LGSs thought things were going to stay static for but it seems many act like they’ve been blindsided by the internet. It’s nearly 2013, you guys should have seen this coming.

As a result models are available online for significant markdown from retailers who don’t have the overheads the LGSs have. I would rather buy online than from a local store, for example. It’s cheaper and it shows up at my front door. I can also pay using PayPal, which is where much of my spending money is earned.

The argument goes that the markup at an LGS pays for table use for gaming and as a result one should support them.

It sounds simple enough but it’s really not. At the moment table use is free and as such users expect it to cost them nothing. They do want to use the tables and the community space – that has value to them and it’s currently costing them nothing. If they want they can buy models but there’s no obligation.

That model isn’t working. Shocker, I know.

Personally I want to use tables but have more models than I need for the foreseeable future. I do not wish to purchase goods I do not need to support a cause that is increasingly feeling like a bleeding-hearts charity.

I’m not planning on creating a new business plan for these places, that’s not my job or my problem. I run my own wargaming business for which I created a business plan. I keep an eye on the business environment and try to anticipate changes so I can roll with them as and when they appear. My business lives or dies on my ability to do that – the same is true for LGSs.

Some in the discussion thread claim that gamers are not willing to pay for table space. That isn’t true for me, sure, but perhaps it’s true for others, yet the commenters treat it as if it’s a fact of life, etched indelibly in stone. Fucking really? We’re just going to give up?

Attitudes can be changed, it’s what PR and marketing are there for!

So let’s assume at the moment people do not want to pay for tables – how do we change that attitude? What would gamers respond to?

I’m not going to do that bit for them, but it’s something to be thinking about as a business owner. You’ve currently got customers who are taking your product/service and paying you nothing. What a great business model – time to reconsider that value proposition.

Monetisation is a core component of a business model but it seems many wargamers have just decided that it’s their fault LGSs are dying. No, it’s not. In a different societal model it would be but in a capitalist model that is not the case – they went where they perceived the value to be better. That’s supposed to happen.

It’s the job of LGS owners to figure out how to get them back.

As with so many other things – adapt or die.

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