Saturday, February 14, 2009

Key 20 RIP

The economy has affected everyone, and the gaming "industry" is no exception. Word on the street is that some distributors are going out of business, because game stores are not doing well, and so on up the chain.

The word is Key 20 wasn't making ends meet because they weren't getting paid by some important distributors. Jason contacted me a little while back letting me know that they were severing contracts, and I refrained from making any public statements until the dust settled. On the plus side, Jason did pay me all that was due, and shipped my remaining books back. So he did good by me despite what must be a very difficult time for him. I respect him a great deal for that and I wish him the best.

So what next? That's a tough question. Labyrinth Lord remains in distribution through online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but when the copies in distributors' warehouses run out they won't be available at game shops.

As far as I know there is only one other distribution consolidator. I have had some communication with them and I think they would be interested in taking me on. However, the economy is in the dumps right now and it is a big risk. A risk that is probably better left alone for a while.

So, at the moment my idea is to try to maximize my distribution on the internet, and to reach as many people I can by this medium. Traditional distribution is very, very tough at all times but now even more so for small press people like me who do this as a hobby and do not have a steady predictable release schedule.

I'll have to treat this as an evolving situation over the coming months....maybe years....and see where we're headed. In the meantime sales through Lulu, online distribution, and electronic book sales have remained steady for several months, so I'm optimistic.


Anonymous said...

That's sad news Dan.

Dan of Earth said...

It's definitely a bummer, but I feel much worse for Jason at Key 20. I don't know if Key 20 was entirely his livelihood or not, but it must be much much harder for him.

Anonymous said...

If you are looking for a new venue for getting the books to distribution, you might consider indie press revolution.

Indie press revolution (IPR for short, address ) does sell to distributors. Though it is associated with story games, there is other sorts of games also available. A link to their prospective publisher FAQ:

Brendan Falconer said...

Anyone losing the opportunity to do what they enjoy due to financial gloom is so sad.

Still good to hear that Labyrinth Lord is still moving.

Matthew James Stanham said...

That is bad news all round. I hope that Jason's fortunes recover quickly and that you find another equally reliable distributor in good time.

Pity you can't just ship them to somewhere like Noble Knight Games yourself.

Jeff Rients said...

Pity you can't just ship them to somewhere like Noble Knight Games yourself.

Keep in mind that all I know about the business end of gaming is that there are these mysterious middle men call distributors who seem to muck things up for everybody yet are also apparently indispensable, but exactly why can't one just ring up Noble Knight and try to work with them directly?

Dan of Earth said...

Noble Knight was getting LL through Key 20, and they seem to be willing to deal directly with small press people so they might be willing to deal direct. The real trick is to be able to make it worth while, and that can be hard with small POD orders because by the time you print them, sell them at the retailer discount, and ship them, you may as well just give them away.

I think there are solutions, and I'll be looking into them. My hands are tied somewhat until I get back to the US next month. I have thought about IPR and maybe I'll contact them to see if they are interested. I've got about 60+ copies of LL ready to go.

Dan of Earth said...

Keep in mind that all I know about the business end of gaming is that there are these mysterious middle men...

...and when you work through a consolodator it's worse. For instance, here is how it worked with Key 20.

First you have to pay the printer.

Second you pay to ship the load to the warehouse.

Third you pay the consolidator for their services. You pay something for shipping again.

The books are sold at about 40% MSRP (it varies) to the distributor, so they can sell them for a profit.

Then the retailer sells them at MSRP.

So in the end after all expenses I wasn't getting much from each book. Part of that is my fault for underpricing LL at 17.95. It has been clear to me that the price probably should be about 19.95 to make distro more realistic.

Anyway, sorry for rambling.

BlUsKrEEm said...

That is sad news indeed. I hope that LL finds regular circulation soon, and that things start going better for Key 20.

John Adams said...


Christian said...

That is a drag. Earlier tonight I again spammed the internets in the hope of getting a LL game going here is West Los Angeles. I hope to spread the word of what a great game you have.