Gaming on a Budget: Battlefront is Brilliant

Yeah, that title is a bold statement.  It’s also a true statement.  While this series has always focused on the consumer side of things, I’m actually going to put my education to work (’bout damn time) and get a little discussion going about one of the best moves I’ve seen from a company in a long long time. 

Do you own a copy of Flames of War 2nd ed?  Really, well go to your FLGS ASAP, throw around some more acronyms, and get a free copy of the new 3rd edition rules! 

3rd edition FoW- not hard to get.  Also, anybody else notice that this plane took out a train?

Okay, so yes this obviously will save you, the consumer, money on keeping up to date with the latest rules set since you’ll be out exactly nothing on the “purchase” of the new book, but that would make for a short Gaming on a Budget article- and I’m not letting you off the hook that easily.  That article would actually pretty much end here, but instead will continue after the jump in a slightly different direction.

The Internet and digital technology have not been kind to the media industry, least of all anything dealing with the printed word.  With easy access to less than legal books and the easy spread of digital copies of anything, it’s difficult to many publishers to find a place for printed books these days.  Think for just a second and I’m sure you can name half a dozen or more of your gaming buddies that have downloaded at least one gaming supplement without paying for it.  Believe it or not, this really does hurt the industry as it erodes revenue and increases costs.  Truth be told, this behavior is at least partly responsible for the odd price increase, so you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself, asshole.

In the past, companies have responded to the easy pirating of their material with complete ineptitude.  C&D orders, the odd highly inappropriate lawsuit, etc have not done anything to win favor with the public.  Truth be told, it hasn’t really done anything to help stop the availability of pirated media either. 

felt like another picture was needed, so here’s a real live WWII commissary

Enter Battlefront and an absolutely genius strategy to finally just say ‘fuck it!’  With this giveaway, they are on the forefront of admitting that technology has changed the game and adaptation is needed.  They know that a good chunk of their customers are probably just going to download the new rules anyway.  They also know that the rest of us will be buying copies of the rulebook.  Their strategy of giving a softcover book to those who own the previous edition while simultaneously releasing a huge tome of greatness satisfies the needs of both customer groups.

Are you a cheapskate?  Have some free rules.  Need to own things to prove your awesomeness?  Why not buy one of our phone book sized amazing  rule books?

Some of you might be thinking that they’re going to take a bath on this giveaway.  Well, you’re sort of right.  It’s probably going to cost them quite a bit.  Shipping charges alone on all the books are going to cost a pretty penny and printing costs aren’t exactly at an all time low these days.  I contend, however, that this will pay off huge long-term dividends.  It’s refreshing to see a company considering the long-term, if I may say so.

Understanding the brilliance of this strategy is simple, but requires understanding two basic retail concepts- the loss leader and …well it’s known by many names, but we’ll just call it consumer good will.

A loss leader is a product or service generally sold at or below cost which is used to generate additional revenue from necessary additional accessories or creating a long term need to purchase high profit replacement parts.  This is often referred to as the razor and blade model.  Gillette sells you a cheap razor handle at no profit in order to sell you a blade every month that is most likely marked up several hundred percent.  Consider the last video game console you purchased.  The retailer may well have lost money by selling you the console, but each additional controller, game, cable, etc puts huge profits in their pockets.

Consumer good will is something a little more ethereal, but no less important.  It is simply the positive feelings a consumer has towards a brand.  We all buy things from companies that we hate.  If a replacement product is made available by a company we hate less, we will likely purchase the new product instead.  If for example pretty much anybody other than Apple could figure out how to make a not-shit mp3 player in somewhere around 320Gb or more in size, I would be on it like stink on shit.

Now the fine people of Battlefront, being saving businessmen and possibly women, have combined these two concepts in their new strategy to give them a distinct competitive advantage against the rest of the gaming industry.  First, their free rules will generate greater consumer good will, adding to their brand equity and creating a loyal customer base.  This type of move really helps to show that they care about their player base and I think we all like that sort of thing.

Rabid fanbase in tow, Battlefront has now got us all hooked.  And as we all know the lifetime customer value (projected or actual revenue a company earns from a single customer during his/her lifetime) can be astronomical.  In essence, by giving us the rules for free, we’re all getting a lifetime membership to the Battlefront club, all we’ve got to do is collect armies and paints and all of the other things we need for gaming- for the rest of our useful lives.

I will make an early prediction and say flat out that this is a game changer for the industry.  Nobody has put this kind of revolutionary thought into capturing market share in gaming yet.  Frankly, it’s refreshing to see.  I can only hope that at least a couple of other companies realize the power of giving us books, which are easy for us to get free anyway, in order to get us to buy supplies and models which are, 3D printers notwithstanding, quite difficult to reproduce.

It would be all too easy for me to rattle on about this, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.  Does this give you the warm fuzzies?  Is it a hollow ploy?  Are you considering picking up the game for the first time because of this news, even though you won’t get free rules?  Do tell- hit us up in the comments.

ps, for the sake of clarity, though I am a FoW player, I will be paying for the HC rules.  I currently own the SC version of the 2nd edition book, so would not be eligible for the free 3rd edition.  That doesn’t stop me from being thoroughly chuffed about the promotion, though.

You may also like...