It’s a big week over here in Blighty – we have not one, but two Dice Masters releases finally landing on these shores: TMNT: Heroes in a Half Shell and the Iron Man/War Machine starter set dropped yesterday. (Thursday)
It’s been quite a wait, but sadly not an uncommon story in the U.K., stock is regularly delayed on this side of the ocean. I’ve written about it numerous times before, usually in a state of jealous frustration as I watch fellow players in the US photograph their pulls, produce unboxing vids, trade cards, and write on forums about their fun new combos.
I’m sure you can understand that frustration. Wizkid’s “In store’s now” press release for ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Heroes in a Half Shell’ was dated the 9th Feb 2017, and we’ll find it in landing in stores today; the 29th March – seven weeks later. The ‘Iron Man/War Machine’ “in store’s now” press release was on 17th Feb 2017 – six weeks later. I know because they mailed them to me on their ‘Wizkids Update’ mail shot that comes out weekly.
I messaged Wizkids and Esdevium (the UK Distributor) and asked about delays. I figured that all the ranting & raving I write on this blog about release delays was possibly unfair – there may well be a reasonable explanation. I’ve mentioned it before – the tabletop community in the U.K. is frequently filled with rumours and speculation around causes of delays but rarely does an organisation communicate particularly well about it. One time, after I tweeted them, I was told it was due to “Storms at sea”. Not much any of us can do about the weather. Anyway – this time I got what felt like a very formal, canned response from Wizkids, which told me releases in Europe are always later to allow for shipping time, and all advertised dates are for the US only. They said they’re working on addressing European delay issues and a better communication strategy around release dates and, when ready, will release details. So there’s that I suppose, despite the formal tone of the reply. Esdevium just didn’t respond.
So, in the absence of more of a narrative around this challenge – a rant & rave it’s going to have to be…
This state of affairs with delays are problematic for me because of a number of reasons. Firstly – delaying sets then dropping two at once effects sales performance. Down at my FLGS this week I saw regular players buy just one or the other. Only I picked up both (I’d spread the cost with a bit of pre-ordering). It’s not good for the ongoing interest in the game. This time around it wasn’t too bad as they were smaller box sets, but in the past we’ve had two full set releases (Starter/ Grav Feed/ Collector’s Box) land within a week of one another, which I know was financially challenging for the player-base round my way.
Surely that can’t look good on the old spreadsheet back at Wizkids HQ? It must be very difficult to get your ‘profit & loss’ balanced, and plan strategy & investment for the future, when your own release behaviours impact on your sales revenue.
Secondly; in this day and age of the internet, delayed releases exclude us from the wider worldwide conversation about the game; It puts us out of sync with the larger community playing in the US & Canada, and I find that a tough place to be too.
Right now, this very week these releases have arrived in the U.K., the hot topic in the internet hubbub is the Dice Tower spoiler review of the upcoming Batman set. This is scheduled for a May release in the US, so these spoilers are just 4/6 weeks or so in advance of the release – just about right to keep the hype machine going. (They’ll drop a handful of Super Rare spoilers in about 2 weeks I reckon, to keep momentum up) but, if historical performance is anything to go by, we’ll not see these cards over here until late June/early July, as the marketing machine moves on to the next set.
Just think – as the North American market starts to draft the Guardians of the Galaxy set, we will just be starting to draft the Batman set, so we’ll not be in the same stage of discovery & playtesting our friends across the Atlantic are, therefore interest wanes, meta conversations online cease being inclusive, and we start to feel like the ignored little brother.
I know this is a practical challenge, but just some small movement into a more transparent, higher quality communication state would do. I don’t have to like a thing, just be able to understand it better, y’know. It gets infuriating when it’s me, the customer, who has to Tweet the publisher to find out what’s going on with releases, only to get another ‘excuse’ to add to the list. My FLGS is unable to tell me because they’re often as uninformed as we are.
Anyway – I’m glad the sets have finally landed – and can’t wait to get my new Turtles team built and tested on an upcoming Tuesday night Casual down my FLGS.