Sunday, August 29, 2010

Boardgame Exchange

Via Purple Pawn, I learned there's an interesting new service for game enthusiasts.  It's the Boardgame Exchange - essentially, a Netflix style service for games.  You get to have one game mailed to you at a time, in custom shipping boxes with prepaid postage.  When you're done, you send the game back, and they send you the next one on your list.  They allow you to swap up to two times per month (presumably because the postage on these things will run them something like $8-$10 a shot, I'd guess).  

You pay about $30 a month for the service depending on how long a term you sign up for.  If you rapid-fire the games, sending them back quickly, I bet they end up barely breaking even at that price, since they'd have to cover four shipping costs and employees to send them out, not to mention inventory.  But they probably count on people having to keep the games for a while in order to get a group together, and then you'll probably also have the Netflix thing where you keep a loser game for a while thinking you'll play it but never doing so.  For some users, they'll probably get paid every month for not having to do anything other than having a game out on loan.

I'd be surprised if this is around in a year, unless they have a ton of venture capital behind them.  Netflix works because DVDs are cheap, easy to handle, reaonably durable, and very cheap to mail.  Games aren't these things.  But maybe they'll make a go of it - since getting into this publishing thing, I've certainly realized there's a huge and enthusiastic community of game players out there, many of whom would love to play something new every week.

I'm not sure if they're good for publishers or bad - on the one hand, you could get some exposure, and they'll have to buy at least one copy of your game to send it to people.  On the other, if your game isn't that great, people might try it here and never buy it.  But my guess is, it won't hurt sales and might help them, particularly if you've got a good game and not much marketing budget, as I think I will.

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