Wingspan Release Day: An Apology and an Explanation

7 March 2019 | 187 Comments

Today, March 8, is the release day of Wingspan. For some, it’s cause to celebrate. This is the first published game designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, and it was the first board game illustrated by Natalia Rojas and Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo (acclaimed board game artist Beth Sobel also contributed). It’s the first Automa (solo mode) for which David Studley was the lead designer. Also, if you’re receiving your copy of Wingspan today, you may be celebrating too.

But others may not be celebrating. If you preordered Wingspan from a retailer, you may have been informed recently that your store doesn’t have a copy for you. We’ll get into why that is in a minute, but most importantly, I want you to know that I’m sorry. There is a scenario in which you could have gotten a copy of Wingspan today that I had control over (again, more on that soon), and I didn’t have the foresight to make that happen.

If you’re reading this because I directed you to this post or you stumbled upon it, you have a voice to share your thoughts in the comments. But for the the purpose of this post as I write it, you’ll be represented by this person who commented on our Facebook page today:

I see that you’re disappointed, and I respect your feelings. I would be disappointed too if today I thought I was getting a game I eagerly anticipated and it didn’t happen.

While I won’t dispute your feelings, I do need to clear up some misconceptions:

  • “so few copies of Wingspan were delivered to distributors”: We sent 5000 English copies of Wingspan to distributors worldwide. Supply is relative to demand, so you’re right, 5000 was too few. But if demand hadn’t exceeded demand–an unknown variable when a game goes to print–5000 could have been too many.
  • “even after a over a month of pre-orders since the initial release”: Stonemaier Games only accepted preorders from January 2-8, two months before the retail release date of March 8. Then we stopped.
  • “not everyone who pre-ordered their game from their FLGS will receive a copy of the game during the purported retail release date”: That’s true. Demand exceeded supply. Distributors knew exactly how many copies of Wingspan they were getting as early as mid-January. Basically, your retailer sold you something they didn’t have–they just hoped to get copies from their distributors.
  • “How does this happen?”: If you really want to know, the long answer is here. The short answer is that in August when I asked my manufacturer to start making the first print run of Wingspan, I estimated that we needed to make 10,000 copies. I don’t have an unlimited budget, so I used the information I had to make a guess, and I guessed wrong.
  • “Is this really how you take care of fans of your game who go out of their way to pre-order from the local game stores that Jamey has so proudly defended”: I try my best to take care of fans (and just people in general) in a variety of ways, but I understand how in this specific instance you don’t feel that I’ve done my job. And you’re right, I haven’t–part of my job is making enough games, and I didn’t do that. But I’d like to share one example of how I really do try to take care of fans. there was a period of about 18 months (after we stopped using Kickstarter) where we didn’t accept any preorders from customers. Everything we made we sent to distributors. But as it turns out, some people wanted to buy directly from us. They wanted the guarantee that they’d get a new product in a timely manner. So to serve those fans, I started accepting preorders again. That’s how 5100 fans got copies of Wingspan in January–we had a very well-publicized 7-day preorder campaign that gave people the chance to get it from us, and everyone else took a risk that there may not be copies available for them in the first print run. 

Here are a few things you didn’t say, but you may be thinking:

  • As soon as you learned that Wingspan’s demand exceeded supply, why didn’t you make more? Oh, we did! I started making the second print run of Wingspan in early December. But game production takes time–usually 3-4 months, not including freight shipping. In fact, I also started making the third print run in early January.
  • Why didn’t you set a limit on the number of direct preorders? Then you could have sent more copies to distributors and avoided this whole problem. That’s true, I could have. But it just felt odd to advertise a preorder period for a game we had in our warehouse and then cut it short before the 7 days were over. I don’t think that would have been a good way to serve the fans who get our e-newsletter but maybe don’t read it on the first day or so. 7 days is already a really short preorder window. I don’t think those games would have come anywhere close to meeting the overall demand we’re seeing.
  • If I’m not getting a copy of Wingspan today, when will I get it? The second print run will arrive in stores in mid-April, and the third print run is looking like it will arrive in stores in mid-May. You can also play it digitally online via Tabletopia now.
  • How can I be notified to know when it’s back in stock? Your retailer should be able to contact you when they get more games. You can also request a back-in-stock notification from our webstore, you can join the Wingspan Facebook group, and/or you can subscribe to our e-newsletter.
  • I didn’t get a copy of Wingspan today like I expected, so I’m never going to buy it. Honestly, that breaks my heart. Please don’t let my demand forecasting mistake get in the way of you finding joy in Wingspan later this spring.

If you were eagerly expecting Wingspan today, there’s really no way that I can make you feel better. I wish I could. Hopefully there’s something in this message that will help even a little bit–and if not for this situation, for the next time, like when I make a non-infinite number of copies of my civilization game later this year.

Feel free to post any thoughts or questions in the comments below, or share this with someone who didn’t get a preorder (for any game) when they thought they would.

187 Comments on “Wingspan Release Day: An Apology and an Explanation

  1. I really appreciate the heartfelt post, Jamey and I’m sorry if you’re getting some negative feedback. Stuff happens!! I appreciate the level of quality, effort, and transparency that you put into each and every one of Stonemaier’s games, and I feel it’s hard for other companies to rival you in those aspects. It makes me want to buy from you and support Stonemaier more in the future. Thank you for consistently putting out such high-quality products. They really are worth the wait. And thank you again for the level transparency and honesty you’ve had throughout your work.

      1. Some people are just impatient. Maybe they will learn the value of it in the next month or two. I know I’m waiting patiently to get my hands on a copy.

        Keep up the good work

      2. You earned a fan here as I have never purchased one of your games. I only learned about your company from another blogger who mentioned your Kickstarter Lessons. I ordered a copy of your book and received it last night. You make some great points in it and look forward to finishing it.

        Your games are reasonably priced although they are out of my price range for now.

        I think you went above and beyond in your response. To those who want to hold distributors and FLGS’s blameless, a fair number of them deserve blame. I worked for a distributor decades ago and he was good about erring on the side of caution when it came to letting FLGS’s know how many copies he was making, but he never overpromised what he could deliver. He would get blame from those stores who oversold more pre-orders than he told them he would send them. I have also seen distributors who have no problem over-promising what they can deliver based on the number of copies they will receive. Those distributors have no problem blaming the publisher for bad decisions the distributor made.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree Dana! My love for Stonemaier Games is not just a result of their awesome games with beautiful production quality, yes, that’s a large part of it, but my desire to constantly support the company is a direct result of how Jamey and everyone else associated with Stonemaier Games conduct their business. Only a handful of companies reach cult status, think Blizzard Games, Valve (when they were making video games with some consistency and the biggest one of all, Apple, and while they all put out consistently high quality products, it has been their dealings with stakeholders that have built up a die hard fanbase. Even when they are copping flak for things they have (and haven’t!) done, they still treat everyone with absolute respect and with complete integrity and Jamey has built a company that does the same thing. People will knock the Cult of Stonemaier, but I think it’s a badge Jamey should wear proudly as it’s only through his hard work and who he is as a person that people have come to love what his company brings to the world.

  2. Have strength, my friend. You’re doing the best you can with no way to predict the future. I will wait for the dust to settle and get my copy soon!

  3. I just want to say… if people want to play this game there are many of us who pre-ordered and would LOVE to play with you. Attendees at the Salt Lake Board Game Convention (SaltCon) had this going on multiple tables for four days last weekend. There are Facebook and meetup groups playing in FLGS, libraries, and homes across the country. Board game supply and demand is a complicated and risky thing. But board gamers are typically fine and friendly folk, so reach out and find someone to play with! It’s a beautiful game and I’m sure most people will find it’s well worth the wait.

    1. Really a tempest in a teapot here. That said, I agree with Sean here. In fact, my shelves are overflowing and I’m in full-on one-game-in-on-game-out mode, so at this point I’d rather play someone else’s copy of Wingspan than worry about buying one of my own. I have every other Stonemaier game and expect to eventually buy this one, but it isn’t as if I won’t get a chance to play the game because I don’t own it.

  4. Jamey, your devotion to the fans is unprecedented and above and beyond what anyone should ever expect. I feel that if there is any blame that it is 1. On those that didn’t get in on the stonemaier presale(myself included… DOH) and 2. Retailers selling preorders to people knowing or strongly suspecting they won’t have the stock to fulfill them. You supply amazing games with awesome gameplay and superior components at a very reasonable price and also put yourself out there for your customers/fans, I commend and applaud you for that dedication. That is one reason why you have been successful. Keep up the good work! Congratulations to you, Elizabeth, and everyone else involved on this game that is so desired that you have people pissed they can’t get their hands on it fast enough lol.

  5. My FLGS said they would hold a copy for me, but they can’t say with 100% certainty they are receiving the games. That’s frustrating, but I don’t think that has anything to do with you!

  6. Haaa the rage of not getting what we want :). I had the same problem with Scythe and now we see it everywhere. Guess we’ll have to be patient and play other game while waiting. So as I’ll not get my copy of Wingspan I guess I’ll try Viticulture instead and see why i’ts number 1 on so many top 10. Quality takes time and I’ll eagerly wait for a copy to show at my favorite retailer. Keep the good work Jamey, your games are awesome (Scythe is one of my best game experience right now).

  7. I know you’re bummed but you’re already doing more to communicate about this than the vast majority of publishers out there. You guys made an awesome game and lots of people want it – take a moment to celebrate and don’t let the complaints take away from the joy you should be experiencing right now. It will be just as great a game in a few months. Those of who didn’t get a copy will survive the wait, I promise.

    (But if I don’t get a first print run copy of the My Little Scythe expansion when it eventually releases, my seven year old will riot… )

  8. Brilliantly explained Jamey – well done dude.

    No entrepreneur should ever have to apologise for when demand exceeds supply, that is cause for celebration. Especially when you were taking a risk on an unknown designer.

    Congratulations to you, Elizabeth, and the rest of the team involved. More power to you all.

    Rich…!

  9. Great answers Jamey. It sucks that some people didn’t receive their copies of Wingspan but it’s not the end of the world. There’s plenty of games to play and buy within the period of a few months when print runs two and three hit the shelves. This is not something to be worried or sad about. Good job Jamey for clearing it up.

  10. You have bent over backwards for the folks who love this game. You did everything you could (given that you are clearly not prescient–cause you’d be rich if you were–that was as much as you could do) for the fans.

    In spite of that, some have taken you to task, and others have said they will never buy it now. Those people I am very familiar with. I used to work retail. I worked retail for over 12 years. I dealt with people like that on a daily basis.

    And it is because of them that I am able to confidently sum up those 12+ years of retail into two simple words: People suck.

    To quote Agent K from “Men In Black,” “A person is smart; ‘people’ are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it.”

  11. I have been a long time fan and admirer, but this has earned you a whole new level of respect. I can not say I have ever saw a time where a company owner would take responsablity for something that was clearly not your fault. As you stated there were many ways for them to guarantee delivery today. The fact is if he ordered from his local game store it was probably at a price lower than retail and that is why he chose to not use direct. Also as you pointed out the stores knew how many copies they were recieving well in advance and continued taking orders fully aware they could not fill them. Even with all that you layed it on your shoulders for not predicting how hot this game would be. Honestly I feel like a 10k run for a game about birds seems more than generous, and yet as usual your quality and diligence turned it into the next big thing. As I said though you have earned a whole new level of respect from me by the way you have handled this. You deserve all your success and as always I will always be looking for the next big Stonemaier game!

  12. Entitlement at this level is one of the very few, if not the only, distasteful aspect of this hobby. Grow up. To have that level of resentment is stunning. If you have the money to tie up in a preorder you are doing ok. You will get your game eventually. The game is not changing, the only thing you lose is getting to play it sooner. There is a mechanism clearly laid out to allow for that. Celebrate the good guy winning instead of whining! Celebrate that Jamie and Elizabeth hit it out of the part. Choose willing to wait as part of the excitement of them doing well! See your “sacrifice” as noble.

    I really do wish we could eradicate this one aspect of the hobby. I think it is a function of the high level of control gamers like to have over things. And the precision to which we like our world to run (if only everyone could follow the rules!). We do care, and I love the passion we bring to arcane aspects of life, but we need to know when we are overdoing it.

    I will admit to coming close w SM. I got my Scythe finally and OMG the tokens were not printed right! They were mildly offset. I took pics, I got ready to complain. Then I was like, just play with them, and see how you feel then. I NEVER notice!!!! If I had not punched them myself I might not have never noticed. But I felt it hard….I wanted this to be so perfect…and it wasnt. But, again, 100 games in, it is the last thing on my mind. I controlled my OCD. I am glad I did, cause it would have been over entitled diva behavior.

    People get attached emotionally to these products, and that is just wonderful, but also, in the end, it is not life and death, nowhere close. Jamey you have incredible patience and self control, you are so thoughtful, it makes me sad you have to have all this emotional turmoil today instead of pure joy.

    1. Hear, hear! Bravo, Candy, for your insightful perceptions.

      I care more about excellence of process—how one plays all aspects of the life game—than about games per se. And, brouhaha from the disgruntled few notwithstanding, SM/Jamey excellence in that regard, including especially accountability, stands second to none!

  13. First of all I want to make clear I didn’t preorder Wingspan, so I’m not involved in this situation.

    I don’t think it is fair to blame this on you, Jamey. You can’t control the way distributors or retailers handle their stock and preorders. Having run an online board game shop in the past I know where I’m talking about. In this case it is either the store or the distributor who gave the impression there were enough copies but couldn’t fullfil.

    That being said, Stonemaier games has become a big player in the board game world. A lot of fans will keep buying your games, bringing new fans along. From what I can tell it will get harder and harder to anticipate the numbers of copies for a first print run.

    That is the reason why I still feel sorry you don’t use Kickstarter anymore. You don’t have to worry about guessing the numbers, they are there. All backers receive their games around the same period. Being a non-US resident, I also preferred backing a copy on Kickstarter than ordering it after release. I know that it is just a sentiment, but these are the reasons for me:

    – I know when to expect the game while being kept in the loop
    – I know I’m entitled to a copy
    – the impact of shipping costs feels different. Having pre-ordered the Euphoria expansion it felt sour to see my order increase from $20 to $33. I know it is what it is, but I didn’t recall experiencing this while backing Scythe.
    – if additional content is available through the campaign, it is easier to add it than trying to find a shop who is shipping in or to Europe while avoiding taxes.
    – I buy it at a fixed price. I don’t have to search for stores having stock, compare prices, …
    – I don’t know the impact of the percentage that Kickstarter keeps, but I know my money goes to Stonemaier games

    That’s my personal viewpoint on the situation. I appreciate the way you are taking responsibility, Jamey, although a lot of things are out of your hands as far as I’m concerned. That’s one of the reasons why I’m a fan of Stonemaier games.

    1. Matthias: Thanks for sharing! I see what you’re saying about Kickstarter, as it does eliminate *part* of the guessing game…but a creator still has to make a big guess regarding how many extra copies to make for distribution.

      As for the shipping costs, I think I know the issue. On Kickstarter, it’s standard practice to include the US shipping cost in the reward price, so it’s subsidized for everyone else. That isn’t the case on direct orders.

  14. Hi Jamey, this is honestly one of the most heart-felt and honest reaponses I’ve ever seen. Thank you for being so genuine – and your customer service is truly remarkable and amazing.

    I didn’t order wingspan in January, as money was tight, but am more than happy to wait until the 2nd or even 3rd shipping arrives. We all knew that there was a risk of not being able to get it in March if we didn’t order direct from you – and it became REALLY clear that the demand was unprecedented months ago. That’s because it looks like a phenomenal game.

    So please – be proud of what you’ve achieved. Know how much joy your games have brought to so very many people (we played the entire Charterstone campaign on our honemoon and have such wonderful memories of it – and a unique board as a result!). And please don’t let the negative comments get to you – they will be FAR outweighed by the number of people who have never met you, but still know with complete certainty that you are one of the most honourable business people you’ll ever come across.

    Once again, thank you for your honestly, openness and willingness to make yourself vulnerable. You have my utmost respect.

    With very best wishes,

    Tim

  15. Between a rock and a hard place comes to mind. Or damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Whichever cliche you choose it doesn’t change the fact that based on the imperfect information at the time you made the best decision you could that was best for you as a company and the fans. And ever since when new information has come to light you have walked that tight rope and made similar decisions. Whilst being so transparent about it all as you go along.
    I have some sympathy with the person whose post you shared. There are some retailers out there, and distributors that shall we say unintentionally sell more than they will be getting. And that may be for various reasons between the retailer and distributor, lack of communication, missing the email/phone call. However that is something beyond your control.
    You have throughout shown how a company should be run. You have been transparent, communicated, and taken responsibility. There is only so much you can do.
    Your response even now is above and beyond and demonstrates the gold standard you are setting for others.
    Hopefully when the disappointment of not being able to get the game now has subsided the poster and others in the same situation will see just how much effort has been put in to make sure that they can get a copy as quickly as possible.
    Thank you for being you and caring about the fans.

  16. I am one of the unlucky souls not playing this tonight. I preordered this at my LFGS to support them, at the announcement, since last time I preordered through SM champion (Between castles) it got to the store the week after. So I’m disappointed, but I’m glad for SM that the demand is over what was expected. I’m glad knowing that it is on way, with two deliveries in some few months, and I cannot wait!
    I hope the demand still is high, so SM can continue printing this lovely game long info the future.

  17. As the owner of a FLGS I don’t think it’s fair to say “your retailer sold you something they knew they didn’t have”. We took pre-orders with the full belief we would be getting what we ordered, and even ordered extra to cover last second orders and to have a few on the shelf. It wasn’t until after we closed our pre-orders that we found out not only were we not getting what we ordered, but we weren’t even getting enough to cover the pre-orders we had.

    1. Our situation was as David says. We preordered from two different distributors – one confirmed our numbers some time ago and we got all that we preordered from them. The other – we only found out on Friday that we were getting a fraction of what we ordered, leaving us short. From my point of view this problem with canceled/delayed preorders was caused (for us at least) by one distributor massively over-selling.

      With regard to general short-supply – it is a tough game to get right with massive risk and a wait of a few months more for a good game isn’t the end of the world in the grand scheme of things :)

      1. David and Russ: Thank you for sharing, especially the note about different methods by different distributors. Whoever the distributor is that told you well in advance…well, they’re doing the right thing! :) I hope you continue to support them.

        David, as for your point, while I couldn’t have helped you know exactly how many copies you’re getting (I’m several layers removed from that), I think you could have been aware of the big gap between demand and supply. I’ve written about it several times here and in our retailer e-newsletter (if you don’t receive that, send me your info at jamey@stonemaiergames.com so I can add you).

        1. I’m definitely not saying our issue was caused by you, and I was aware there were issues with demand exceeding supply. There were a lot of problems throughout the chain for this one, and our distrubutor definitely took more orders than was possible to fulfill. I was more pointing out that your comment about FLGSs selling a product they knew they didn’t have wasn’t 100% accurate.

        2. What if you weren’t so many layers removed? e.g., setup an FLGS pre-order portal, allowing retailers to register their pre-orders directly with you, and put them on equal footing with direct pre-orders.

          1. We do that on a limited basis, with the limit being the retailers on our e-newsletter who responded when we asked if they were interested in that. Only about 8% of retailers on our mailing list did so.

    2. Here is where the problem is. A lot of people being supportive and consoling here, with many of them not having ordered wingspan. I certainly appreciate the apology and explanation. That speaks to your character. I also agree that Kickstarter would have been, in hindsight, much more effective at effective distribution of your product. Well, hopefully lessons were learned here.
      I’m pretty sure the quip about not printing infinite copies at the end of your post isn’t necessary though. It just seems like a bit of a dig.I’m sure you are aware that everyone understands that infinite copies won’t be printed,.
      Best of luck in future print runs.

      1. Ryan: Thanks for your feedback, though I chose that phrasing intentionally, and the intent wasn’t “a quip.” Based on overwhelming anecdotal evidence from what I’ve heard from people (not just for Wingspan, but for other products too) I honestly think that most people don’t think about manufacturing limitations, and I think it’s worth reminding people of those limitations.

        As for Kickstarter, it wouldn’t have provided any more information about retail demand than the method I chose.

  18. Something you may not be thinking as you authored this post but is nonetheless true: you are seriously one of the best at this. At all of it. Making games, sure. But even customer service and despite any feeling to the contrary, forecasting games. There are very few in this industry that would have this happen and post a response like this. You are such an honest, hardworking creator of truly unique, high quality games. You are an inspiration every step of the way. Thank you, Jamey.

    P.S. Wingspan is fantastic and worth the wait! Cheers to its release all of 2019!

  19. “Everyone else took a risk that there may not be copies available for them in the first print run.” Hi Jamey, here is “everyone else”. Not taking the risk for us had the money value of $20 (in EU from your UK warehouse partner, btw. hi Brexit!) or even more (e.g. Australia). That’s the ONLY reason so many did not preorder. Looking back at this decision, some of us were wrong not taking that sour deal, as now because of demand the price of the game+shipping got higher at retail :/ Right now I’m really disappointed in myself by not preordering in January.

    Why didn’t you like to handle the distribution of copies by your localization partners like 999 Games, Matagot, Rebel or Feuerland Spiele? Would that reduce the shipping cost of $20+ in the future, e.g. for the Wingspan Expansion 1?

    1. Everyone else: Unfortunately, I didn’t use a fulfillment center in Australia for Wingspan, so I take responsibility for that. We’ll be doing that in the future (we did it for the recent Euphoria expansion preorder).

      Those companies are publishers, just like Stonemaier–they’re not fulfillment centers. They all did make Wingspan, and they’ll be selling it soon, but not in English.

      1. I too was going to preorder directly, I’d signed up to the email newsletter and jumped online as soon as it was available. The only reason I didn’t end up ordering directly was because of the extremely high cost of shipping to Australia, and the assurance that I could preorder from a local retailer.

        I was expecting a wait of maybe a couple of weeks, as small delays are normal, but they are telling me I will have to wait until early June. In addition, they are claiming that they did not know they would get such a limited number. Quote from retailer email: “Had it been made clear from the get-go, we would have ensured that all customers were aware of the limited quantity prior to pre-ordering.” This directly contradicts your claim that retailers knew exactly how many they would be getting, so I’m not sure who to believe, but either way, I’m very disappointed.

        I completely understand that delays happen, and it’s very tricky to predict demand, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed at how this had been handled.

        1. Liz: For all retailers who are on and read our retailer enewsletter, they knew from early January that demand was going to far exceed supply. As for the specific communication regarding how may copies each retailer gets, that’s for distributors to decide and communicate–as noted in my article, distributors knew those quantities in mid-January. If a retailer has an issue with not knowing their allocations earlier (as I think they should), they really need to talk to their distributor about it to improve that level of communication.

  20. I don’t know if anyone else **here** has said it, but I hope you’re hearing this elsewhere. WOW! Three Print Runs in a ROW to get as many copies out to prospective buyers as possible? Admirable, Jamey! Thank you so much for responding so THOROUGHLY and QUICKLY when you saw that the fan demand was going to be greater! I’m someone who really wants to get this game no matter how long it takes because I’ve had the great pleasure of playing the game already (another fan was so excited that he was willing to pay the shipping to get a preorder game DELIVERED TO JAPAN!) It’s worth it guys – hang in there!

  21. Jamey, you do an exceptional job of taking care of your customers. Anyone who doesn’t see that is looking through a very shortsighted and selfish lens. It is perfectly within reason to make mistakes, especially when you are running one of the most successful game companies in the world almost singlehandedly. I was lucky enough to receive my copy of Wingspan promptly after I ordered it using my Stonemaier Champion membership, and I have enjoyed playing it and sharing it with my friends. However, if it would placate someone who is distraught about not receiving their copy yet, I would gladly ship them my copy in exchange for their own whenever it may arrive in the next month or two!

  22. If I remember correctly you asked distributors how much they would like and they gave you a low number. It was not just your forecasting estimate, it also pulled in their pooled experience. They should take half of the responsibility.

    Probably local stores would have given you a low estimate as well, but it might be useful to poll them in the future. I don’t understand how local stores can take pre-orders for games they have no assurances of getting. Does the distributor not inform the stores what amount they will get if any? If a local store knows they will only get 5 copies are they still happy to continue accepting ten times that receiving even more money from their customers?

    Having said that, in the eyes of gamers (not reality) is Stonemaier Games on level with Asmodee? Probably. They might expect to see every new game Stonemaier releases on the shelve at their store like a Fantasy Flight or Zman game, and not to be as scarce as a $250k Kickstarter game. I’m sure you’ve worked hard to put Stonemaier Games on level (in the mind) with those great companies, so it’s hard to blame people for expecting that.

    Shortages didn’t hurt Gloomhaven or Nintendo in the past so hopefully it has the same effect for Stonemaier Games and Wingspan.

  23. We missed the preorder on the site by a day, immediately called or FLGS to reserve a copy and they got so few they randomized who for the ones they got in. We weren’t lucky. Unfortunately this means the money for Wingspan will go to another game. At this point we’re just going to maybe pick it up at a later time, but the hype for us is just gone. To be honest it’s our fault for missing the date to guarantee it, but it is what it is.

  24. I too am impressed Jamey by your willingness to be held accountable. You are a class act. I am an avid birder and gamer and this game will be an all time favorite I am sure, but I certainly wait a little longer for it. It’s not like I have nothing else to play in the meantime!

  25. I don’t generally pre-order anything, video games, or boardgames because the word preorder, in my head, triggers “exclusivity.” I know it doesn’t have anything to do with that, but the idea of being first is such a tempting thought for me. So I sit and wait so that I make a purchase I am pleased with. In the past when I have pre-ordered things and they failed to arrive in time I haven’t taken it personally though. They’re just things and things shouldn’t have that much power over you. However, I understand that for some there is a lot of value placed on things and so they are willing to give objects or situations the ability to affect their moods negatively.
    I do appreciate how well Jamey treats his fans with his honesty and transparency, so thank you Jamey for that. Also, thanks for making and publishing such wonderful experiences and memories for me.

  26. Thanks for taking the care to explain all this Jamey. I was very surprised to get a copy of Wingspan on release day all the way over in Australia. Hopefully the rest of the fans can get a copy (or make a new friend who has a copy!) soon. Good luck bringing more innovative and exciting games to the market!

  27. No big deal, Jamey. Unlike so many in the cult of the new, I’m fine waiting until there’s plenty available for everyone. The “disappointed” fans just need to breathe. There’s so many horrible things in the world to get worked up about, and a late game should never really make that list. Keep up the great work with top quality games!

    1. Amen to this! Well stated Aaron. I think there is probably a decent game or two out there that people could play while they wait for Wingspan. We are just so used immediate gratification these days. All will be well in a couple months!

    2. “There’s so many horrible things in the world to get worked up about, and a late game should never really make that list.”

      that’s EXACTLY why people get so worked up about Wingspan; without a top-notch engine-building, bird-watching tabletop game to look forward to, how can we possibly endure the impending doom of global warming framing a foreground of daily misery-inducing current events?

  28. I preordered my copy from retail 7am January 3rd… still not early enough, apparently my FLGS is getting 1/5 of the copies that they have preorders for.

    I hold no ill will, but the biggest point of “blame” is exactly where you half-heartedly put it in your open letter. “It isn’t the retailers fault, though accepting preorders before knowing your allocation may not be a great idea.”

    It’s assuredly not a great idea, selling something you don’t have will never be a good idea. Is there any way of tightening up the communication regarding how many copies will go out? They were up for preorder Jan 2nd, but it was only mid-January that they know how many copies they get? That doesn’t work. I fully appreciate that you want to fulfill your stated pre-order period, and that you don’t know how many will go to distributors until after you close your own preorders, but the retail preorders shouldn’t even be available until after that period ends.

    The distributors find out how many copies they get, then the retailers find out how many copies they get, and then preorders should open. Any other method just leads to potential situations like this, disappointment, anger, and in some cases apparently outright lost sales.

    1. Cameron: Our preorders for Wingspan ended on January 8. I reported the final quantities to our broker on January 9, and they calculated allocations and sent them out to distributors a few days later. I’m not sure why that doesn’t work. Maybe you’re saying retailers shouldn’t accept preorders until they know how many copies they’re getting? Perhaps–but that’s a decision for retailers, not me.

  29. I truly hope the negative comments are minimal on this!
    I think you do an incredible job for the community and you are always giving immediate response to issues, inquiries and posts. I get that people might be upset, but if they don’t understand manufacturing costs & timing, I don’t see how they will ever be satisfied.

    Best of luck Jamey!

    Personally, I can’t wait to get my copy -even though I have to wait a little longer. It still doesn’t ruin my life to not have it today, and I certainly won’t waste energy being upset over it!

  30. Once again you have created a very open and great article! Jamey, you make an excellent CEO! People will be disappointed and mad and express that in different ways, and as you said – it’s understandable to feel that way. I hope that people that won’t get a copy of Wingspan today recognize your efforts. Hopefully they stay committed to their purchase for their sake. It truly is an amazing game and is worth the wait. You did your absolute best and are a very analytical person. Research is wrong from time to time – and this time your demand analysis was wrong. And that’s easy enough to fix (print more games) if people are patient. Most will stick around I think. It’s a game people should have in their game closet – whether that be today or a month or two from now. Keep up the good work!

  31. Very well said. As always, I appreciate the tranparency in which you run your business. It seems to me that the anger should be directed towards the distributors that over sold their pre-orders.

    It thought that a print run of 5K was industry standard.

    I did order Wingspan off your website during the window in January and I’m very glad I did. It is a wonderful game and I’ve introduced it to many people :)

  32. Jamie, I appreciate the hat-in-hand explanation, but I think you are throwing retailers under the bus. Let me explain why.

    When you posted the “the longer answer is here” post you link to above, that was something I was alerted to by one of my customers. I did not hear about it via you and your retailer email list, and I did not hear it via the distributors. A customer. And thank goodness it wa right after you posted it.

    I then took it upon myself to reach out and try to find out what my deliverables were going to look like. For some of my distributor reps, I was informing them of the situation. Not good. After they then co silted with their inner workings, I realized I want going to be getting more than a couple copies of the literal 100 that I had on preorder.

    And at the time, I already had collected preorders of this game that far exceeded that probable allocation. So we called those customers and gave them fair warning. And my customers are pretty great so they were (mostly) cool about the probable delay. And we’ve since taken more preorders, warning the customer every time.

    I don’t take prepayment for preorders (for this very reason). But many do, and they are completely in the right to, and I am absolutely sure that they took those pre-orders and that payment without having any clue that they were going to be allocated.

    Because, thankfully, my store was the exception. I knew about this situation because of a proactive customer. Thank goodness for that customer.

    I’m not sure where the communication broke down. It may be that distributors were not being proactive in letting stores know about the situation. Distributors are dealing with a lot of product, more than ever, for a lot of manufacturers, more than ever. Certainly they are culpable here, but how much? Is it their job to babysit your communication? Maybe a little. It may be that you sent out an announcement to retailers. I never saw any. And you know us – you know how dialed in to board games we are.

    What I do know, however, is there are a lot of retailers, very likely the majority, who had no idea about the situation until they received their allocation numbers last week. So when you say “Your retailer sold you something they knew they wouldn’t have,” that is doing them a severe disservice.

    1. Bryan: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I tried to spread that blog post far and wide, and I did send a note to retailers on January 5 saying that the first print run was turning out to be relatively small compared to demand, but you’re right that it would not have hurt for me to follow up with an update on the situation on January 9.

      But you’re right, I can’t assume when retailers knew their incoming quantity. Last night I actually changed the sentence to, “Basically, your retailer sold you something they didn’t have–they just hoped to get copies from their distributors.”

  33. People can be so damned sulky and demanding. So they don’t get their game now and have to wait a month or six, how must their life be that not getting a game on time upsets them this much. And 10 to 1 people whining so much have never managed complex logistics and supply chains using their own money.

    I’m sorry you feel so bad about upsetting these people [final part redacted by Jamey for tone].

  34. [sentence redacted by Jamey for inappropriate language] You are trying to shift the blame for under-producing the game to retailers.

    “Distributors knew exactly how many copies of Wingspan they were getting as early as mid-January. Basically, your retailer sold you something they didn’t have–they just hoped to get copies from their distributors.”

    You’ve been in this business long enough to know that distributors do not communicate allocations to retailers until the last minute–e.g. the moment the order is keyed and sent to the warehouse for packing. So, retailers placed pre-orders in good faith and the lines of communication stopped there.

    You under-printed the game. Period. 5000 copies to worldwide distribution? There are over 6,000 retail game stores. That is less than 1 copy per store, which basically lines up with what folks are seeing this week–1 copy per store.

    Stop throwing retailers under the bus.

    1. Jay: Honestly, it’s news to me that some distributors do not tell retailers their allocations just before the release date. I’ve never heard that before today (and as indicated by a response from a retailer above, there was at least one distributor that told retailers their quantities well in advance).

      You’re absolutely right that I under-printed the game, and I’m sorry for that. That doesn’t change the fact that retailers sold something they didn’t have, which certainly didn’t help the situation.

      1. Nonetheless, let’s talk about how to improve the pipeline. You noted above that you guesstimated your print run in August of ’18. (I’m paraphrasing here).

        Distributors first solicited pre-orders from retailers in early January (January 5-10th or thereabouts depending on distributor).

        How is this not a broken system? There is *zero* relation between your print-run and actual, verifiable pre-orders.

        As an aside, in a previous blog you said that when you initially reached out to distribution regarding the game, they estimated 10,000 copies would be good. So, by printing 10,000 and keeping 5,000 for your direct sales, you essentially halved their estimates. Not that 10,000 would have amounted to much more than 2 copies per store, but still…

        1. That’s a fair point. Based on previous preorder campaigns, in August my assumption is that we would sell around 500 copies directly to consumers. Obviously I was way off, but I was using the information I had then. So based on that, I should have made 10,500 copies, which wouldn’t have moved the needle.

          I agree that the system doesn’t work well for forecasting demand. I would like to find a way to get estimates from distributors well in advance, but it’s a guessing game for them too until they actually get numbers from retailers. And retailers don’t know how many they want until they get requests from customers. And customers don’t know what they want until they learn about what the game is and how reviewers feel about it…information that isn’t available until the game has already been produced. There are other reasons we don’t reveal that information until after we’ve already made the games; see here: https://stonemaiergames.com/the-secrets-of-mad-king-jamey/

  35. Jamey-you are the absolute best. Everything I’ve ever seen working with you has shown your true caring and compassion for the consumer and desire to go above and beyond to do everything you can for the people who buy your games. I personally thank you for all you have done and for being so transparent consistently with people.

  36. Jamey, you should design a game about game designing and distribution. “My favourite mechanism” should be randomly drawing a card, half way through game, with the number of games ordered. This has to be done after the “Send to print” phase of course.

  37. Jamey! Thanks for the excellent explanation. I’m not a customer mostly because I don’t play very many games. But I have been reading your posts ever since I found your book on Kickstarter.

    About four months ago we begin researching and planning how to raise money for some of the things we want to do – to help people be safe-from-violence. A routine in our little office is to ask “what would Stegmaier say about that?“. Then we try to guess based on your book and blogs.

    I really like the way you interact with people and manage the whole process. My hope is that at some point I may get your interest to help us figure this out. We have the tools and insights to help a lot of people manage their personal safety, but we’re still not sure how to get it out there. Following your lead, I wrote a dozen blogs recently and asked friends to look them over. That’s where we’re at.

    In the meantime I used to specialize in small and growing businesses. If it would help you to talk through this pre-order fulfillment problem or any other problems, I would be glad to do that. I specialized in entrepreneurial management and finance at Harvard business school and I grew up around a lot of direct marketing guys. I did about 90 startup, buyout, and consulting deals back in the day.

    Anyway thanks again. I’m learning a lot by reading your blogs and posts and observing the way you do things.

    Dave Amis
    Stridersafety.org
    CloseCallAcademy.org
    5124109136

  38. This transparency is why I will be continuing to buy the games Jamey and his group will put out. I have kickstarters that have taken twice as long with less communication. He made a mistake and is telling you why. You wouldn’t get that information out of like 99% of anyone else. If anyone else had demanded a reason why there was a shortage from anyone else. if you even got a response, it would be nothing like this and would just say the next run will be out in a year *shrug*.

  39. While I appreciate the time and effort SM has dedicated to come out with an explanation and their efforts to quickly launch a second and third wave of the game, has a retailer I have to disagree with this:

    “Distributors knew exactly how many copies of Wingspan they were getting as early as mid-January, and retailers learned about the shortage some time between then and now. Basically, your retailer sold you something they knew they didn’t have.”

    I work with 3 of the major distributors in the US, have done so for years, and none of them where able to tell us exactly how many copies of the game they would receive. To say retailers sold customers something they “knew they didn’t have” is overly simplifying the issue and seems like you are trying to make the retailer the bad guy here. I won’t generalize and say all retailers knew of the shortage, I for one was indeed notified of the allocation, has I have been informed before of any other allocation. The magnitude of the allocation was something I was not ready for. I usually get half of my order in any given allocated product, I was lucky to get 1/3 this time from 1 distributor and that was it. And I was one of the lucky ones, managing to get 2 copies of the game instore. Other stores around me got 0.
    Has a retailer, I know allocation is part of the business and I deal with it the best way possible.

    Preorders are the way we has retailers can gauge interest in any given product. Any good retailer knows not to pre sale all their order, specially after an allocation notice. What we can’t do anything about is not recieving even half of our order, or receiving 0 product. So please, saying retailers sold something they knew they didn’t have feels like passing the blame down. We can deal with allocation, what we can’t deal with is 0 product.

    Just to be clear, I am not blaming neither distributors nor SM for the situation. I am glad the game has been such a great hit. I have already placed reorders with multiple distributors in hopes of getting more than 2 copies in this time. The situation definitely shows us you guys are making great games and I hope you continue to do so over the years. Situations like this happen from time to time were we can’t predict or control the variables. Just don’t come out saying “oh it’s your local retailers fault because he knew he wouldn’t have enough”, because that is simply not the case.

    Keep gaming my friends.

    1. Francisco: Thanks for your comment. You’re quoting an older version of the article, as I’ve updated it to the following: “Distributors knew exactly how many copies of Wingspan they were getting as early as mid-January. Basically, your retailer sold you something they didn’t have–they just hoped to get copies from their distributors.”

      1. Hi Jamey,

        What a perfectly well-written post about the difficulties of forecasting demand for a new product. As a consultant specializing in forecasting & demand planning and a big fan of your games, I can say you hit the nail on the head.

        Many of my customers ask me for advice on creating forecasts for new product introductions, and each and every time it turns out to be very difficult. There’s no great way of doing it. Even the biggest and smartest companies on the planet struggle with it.

        Especially in the world of board games, where each product is unique, demand can not be derived from any earlier product introductions.

    2. As a game consumer who works for an industrial-focused manufacturer (who sells both directly and via reseller), it’s interesting to see behind the curtain and realise just how different sales in this business seemingly are to ours. We literally do not sell anything with a committed timeframe that we don’t have confirmed and committed manufacturing for, and that’s the same pracice across our whole industry; any less is generally a breach of contract. For the kind of industrial equipent we build, at least two thirds of our sales are pre-committed with a substantive manufacturing lead time.

      It’s kind of puzzling to me how or why game retailers and manufacturers don’t operate on the same principles. It seems that retailers are effectively making a commitment to customers that the game will be available to them at a particular time without having any confirmation of manufactured product for that timeframe. In our business if there’s no confirmation of a manufactured unit for that sale then we either don’t make the sale, or make the terms of sale and timeframe clear to the customer. Why is it that game retailers feel it’s appropriate to operate any differently?

  40. It’s unfortunate that criticism like this is being thrown at Jamey who has added so many great games and his own personal knowledge to this hobby. I feel like the people who have done so, like this commenter, are not aware of how forthcoming Jamey is about the way he runs his business. As has become sadly common, a minority of online outcries rises above the positivity surrounding something great and soured a release that should have been nothing but joyous for everyone involved in making the game. Hopefully this blip passes quickly and Jamey’s openness about the situation teaches the people upset by it a little perspective and patience. I look forward to playing Wingspan whenever I’m able to get an opportunity. In the meantime there are many other great games to play.

  41. Thanks for the explanation. I’ve been dying to share this game with my wife, who is a birder but not much of a gamer (like me), but I can wait a little longer if I don’t get a copy from the distributor. I got a chance to play on someone else’s copy back in January and the game looks and plays great.

  42. One of the things I love about you (other than the fact you make fantastic games) is your openness in communicating your successes, failures and lessons with each game. As someone who does some development work for games on a much smaller level, I truly appreciate this. Forecasting in this industry is hard. It’s an educated guess at best. And having a smash hit the way WIngspan appears to be brings almost as many problems as having a dismal failure. Thank you for all you do and keep up the good fight. Also, congratulations on the success of Wingspan to you and all the team behind it.

  43. I feel bad for the “Cult of the New” gamers that MUST have the new game on the release, or pre-release before the hype dies down. I sincerely hope that Wingspan is an evergreen title in your game portfolio and you do MANY more reprints in the next decade. Congratulations on selling out your 10,000 initial print run. Also, congratulations on getting 2 additional print runs in the works so that both are in distribution in the next 4 to 10 weeks. Historically, that is a very FAST reprint period.

    Gamers should thank publishers and distributors for pushing through quicker reprints in 2019. A few example of LONG periods between reprints from years ago are Pandemic and Eclipse. Gamers complain about the big corporate entities buying up smaller game publishers. Gamers complain about the nearly one man publishers.

    If only there was a system where money for a pre-order could be collected 6 to 24 months in advance of a game being delivered by a FLGS or OLGS. A retail pre-order portal. Who would hold all that cash – the retailer? the distributor? the publisher? Oh my!

  44. This seems like an education/expectation issue to me. Your criticism comes from people who don’t understand how the industry works (understandably!), so they attack the most visible person in the chain. I’m not sure how to fix this other than keep doing what you’re doing, explaining things are transparently as you can.

    PS – I saw you used a few of your recommendations in the “Key Elements to Great Customer Service” video you posted recently. Nice to see it in action!

  45. Thanks for the explanation. I’m really bummed to not be getting a copy today but it’ll be that much sweeter when I do, hopefully in April. While I’m waiting I’m going to take the time to make custom bird tokens for each player. I’m thinking each player will be different types of birds. So far owls, parrots, and penguins seem like a good plan not sure about the other 2 players yet, but I’ve got time. ;)
    Congrats Jamey on making a great game!!! This is going to be one that sticks around for a long time and will be in a lot of none gaming households. I’d start planning for a 4th print run because I have a feeling it’s coming.

  46. The silly sense of entitlement from the original poster frustrates me as much as anything. After your explanations, I doubt you saw anything in the way of a public apology from the OP where they took any responsibility or expressed any remorse for bashing you before understanding how things work.

  47. Awesome reply! Once again you go over and beyond what is expected. It clearly isn’t on your head if stores took pre-orders without knowing if they’d have stock.
    Hope this negative buzz goes away soon and you can going forward and doing your best as you are doing here!
    Congrats on the sale success!
    Cheers!

  48. Awesome reply! Once again you go over and beyond what is expected. It clearly isn’t on your head if stores took pre-orders without knowing if they’d have stock.
    Hope this negative buzz goes away soon and you can going forward and doing your best as you are doing here!
    Congrats on the sale success!
    Cheers!

  49. I am curious if the pressumed over production of Charterstone caused you to be a bit gun shy with over production on Wingspan? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Charterstone, but noticed it went to clearance prices pretty quick and seemed over stocked at some FLGS.

    1. We did make a lot of Charterstone! While I wasn’t actively thinking about it while determining the Wingspan print run, it definitely could have had a subconscious impact on the decision.

  50. While I Hate waiting another month for this game, I can’t get angry with the most fair human being in the gaming industry today.

    Luckily, I have plenty of games to occupy my time until then. Thanks for the post sir!

  51. Hello!

    I appreciate the explanation and transparency, Jamey. I live by the motto from The Broken Meeple, “Remember, it is just a game.” You’ve been as forthcoming as possible about Wingspan’s production. In the future, I will be ordering directly from Stonemaier during their pre-sales.

    This may make me sound cheap, but the reason I didn’t pre-order Wingpan directly from Stonemaier Games is because the pre-order was, with shipping, $15 more than pre-ordering the game from the online retailer I use to purchase all of my board, card games, and accessories.

    There is only one flagship store within an hour of where I live because I live in a very rural area. I understand the loyalty of supporting a brick and mortar store. However, the store located closest to me said they want to “keep things rated-R” and are not family friendly. They want their clientele to be able to use foul language, and refuse to sell family weight games.

    Secondly, fifteen dollars doesn’t seem like much, but, as a married father of two, I am on a serious budget when it comes to entertainment expenditures. Other things come before entertainment, but I do enjoy playing games with my family rather than watching tv or sitting on our separate devices.

    I take the time to read and watch reviews, and keep a rolling list of games my family will more than likely enjoy playing. I wait until I have a few options so I can place an order and receive free shipping. By ordering from an online retailer such as CoolStuff or Miniature Market, I can save 20-30% off MSRP, and get free shipping. This allows me the opportunity to play more games with my family in the long run.

    I pre-ordered a copy of Wingspan during the first week of January. I called the retailer this morning to see if my pre-order would be shipping out, and they informed me they did not find out until this morning that they were getting zero copies of Wingspan, and they didn’t know for sure how many they’d receive in April or May from the 2nd and 3rd print runs.

    The retailer claimed that their distributer promised them a certain number of copies of Wingspan, and they only sold that many pre-sale copies before stopping any more pre-sales from being made.

    It sounds like retailers, such as the one I used, expected small shipments of Wingspan and did not sell more than the amount their distributor allowed them to purchase. Beyond that, the distributors received 4,900 copies instead of 10,000, and some distributors didn’t receive any copies from the first print run.

    I don’t know who to believe. Maybe the distributor lied to the retailer or the retailer wasn’t in the know when they allowed pre-sales. In any case, this seems to be one of the most popular games to be released in a long time. Reminds me of how difficult it was to get a copy of Azul when it was first released.

    I believe that I will enjoy Wingspan when I finally do get ahold of a copy, even though I don’t know when that will be. I learned my lesson to pay for the shipping and pre-order games from Stonemaier. I tried to save a little, and it cost me in the end. But, remember, it’s just a game and the anticipation will only continue to grow!

  52. Why promote, order from your local store? I am sure from your presale you knew you would have none to sell. Why not push the retail date back until April so you would have something to sell. The old Nintendo supply and demand just irritates the consumer. Hey everyone we have this really cool thing. But we are going to sell one copy in every state!! Go to Ebay and pay 1400% mark up. The logical answer is bump the date back to April deliver your pre-orders and send what you got to stores. Then people stop in and get a game before expectation and no one is disappointed at a usually excellent brand.

    1. “Why promote, order from your local store?” –Because we’re a publisher, not a retailer. We depend heavily on retailers for long-tail sales of our games, so I think it’s good for that relationship to let people know that retailers carry our games.

      “I am sure from your presale you knew you would have none to sell.” –We had 5000 copies for distributors to sell to retailers.

      “Why not push the retail date back until April so you would have something to sell.” –We could have, and perhaps I should have more seriously considered that, but I had already advertised March 8 as the date. Also, as I said, we still had 5000 games for stores. Why make the customers for those games wait another month?

  53. This dedication to always give your fans and critics a honest response and insight is why I’m a fan. Mistakes do happen but it’s this personal element of this small industry that makes it great. This is not Hasbro printing a million copies of monopoly. Resources are limited and needs to be managed tight to the chest so if delays do occur, it’s unfortunate but understandable. We appreciate you Jamey and keep kicking butt.

  54. Was I disappointed? Yeah, sure. This is for a birthday gift for my partner, and her birthday happened two weeks ago. She doesn’t know what she’s in for, but this is quite literally the board game she’d make given the resources. I know there are going to be so many tears when she gets it, the little eggs, the bird house dice tower, the beautiful artwork. She’s going to love it, because she knows that I understand her. She’s quite a bird nut.

    Am I upset though? No, of course not. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to snag a copy, I’ll have to wait (and probably go insane keeping this secret until then). I’m an adult, I can moderate myself and be patient. But you know what? I’m happy demand outstripped the supply. That means people are loving such an untraditional idea in the board games. I want such things to succeed, because diversity brings about so much more in the world.

    So, yeah, I’m a bit bummed, but I am also so happy for all involved in this game!

  55. Honestly Jamey, if people get so many bad feelings about a game , i think they should consider their life… i have been one of the most, if not the most, honest guy in the industry… I have the best consumer service in the world and you still keep talking directly to people by social media… if people b*t*h about no geting a game because s*it happens, well, go play another game with your friends and wait for the new release date…
    Jamey I was one of the guys who didn’t get and I still admire you the same way… and I will wait for the new release… thank you so much for everything you have done for the industry (and for scythe and viticulture 😝 ) best regards from Portugal

  56. I was one of the early preorders for wingspan and I couldn’t be happier with the game. That being said, I think you should look into getting an operations person or an applied mathematician to help you with modelling demand forecasting. I don’t think it should be back-breakingly expensive, as there are already models that are pretty close to your situation. In particular, I think the situation you’re in is some variation of the newsvendor model. I particular, I think the mistake that you (this isn’t me being critical, I think you’re a great publisher) and probably every other publisher is making with regard to demand forecasting is treating the forecast like a single number, when from a mathematical perspective, you’re looking at a continuum of possible results each with some probability attached (we would call this a probability distribution.)

    The newsvendor model essentially tries to find the critical point at which marginal cost = marginal revenue and then uses that to determine how much of something you should order. So, pulling random numbers out of a hat for your situation:

    Let’s assume each copy of Wingspan costs you $15 (I really have no idea) and that you are selling to distributors @ $30. Let’s also assume that the salvage value of the box and components is $5 (I assume it’s probably actually more than this. If you priced the game at cost I’m sure you would have sold out instantly, even if you overstocked.) In any case, the cost of each individual overage for you is $10 (your cost minus the salvage.) The cost of each underage is $15 (essentially your profit.) So in your case if we plug those numbers into the formula F(Q) = overage/(underage + overage) we get F(Q) = 10/25 or 40%. Again, my starting parameters were complete nonsense, so obviously this result is crazy, but what this means is that you should shoot to have your customers have a 40% probability of being able to get a copy.

    To translate this into sales, you have to do a bit of guesswork constructing what you think the normal distribution is for sales. To do this, you need to specify a mean (I’ll use 10,000 since that’s what you used) and also a standard deviation (a guess of how “volatile” on average you expect the distribution around the mean to be. I’m going to pick 2000 as the standard deviation.)

    You can then plug into the formula NORMINV(normal dist. mean, standard deviation, F(Q) = 40%). In this particular instance, excel tells me that’s 9494 copies that should have been ordered. Now, obviously I used nonsense numbers. I expect that in your situation F(Q) probably should have been closer to 70%-90%. In the case of 70%, you should have ordered 11,050 copies.

    So I guess what this cursory analysis is telling me is that even if you had guessed correctly and 10,000 copies was “average demand”, Wingspan was still under-printed to meet that target. I think that 10,000 (obviously hindsight being 20/20) was probably a low estimate. For instance, if you had hypothesized average demand was 15,000 units, in the case of meeting a 70% probability for F(Q), you would have had to have ordered almost 17,000 copies (I made some tweaks to standard deviation in this instance.)

    The moral of this story is that I think you should try and get someone to model this for you. I think that you can probably find a grad student to do it for “relatively” cheap. Newsvendor almost fits your situation, but it makes the assumption that you only have one chance to order, and that all unfulfilled sales are lost forever. This obviously isn’t the case in your situation, so I would expect that Newsvendor probably slightly overpredicts how much you should order. Regardless, there are more rigorous approaches you can take to this (disclaimer: I’m not an operations expert.)

  57. I hadn’t heard of wingspan before today. The thoughtfulness of your respone makes me want to find a copy in month though. You’re a great human being!

  58. Thanks for the update.
    My preference would be to avoid pre-order through a third party even though it may be the best or only way too go.
    Is it too early to estimate a date when or if sales would be available again directly through Stonemaier Games without any pre-order process?

    1. Bill: We’ll have a very small quantity (~100 units) from the print run due to arrive in April, but there are nearly 3000 people on the waiting list, so I’m only going to contact the first 100 about that. I plan to keep more of the print run due to arrive in May.

      1. Thanks Jamey.
        Is there a way for me to tilt that another notch toward 3000? I am not sure if may already be on the waiting list. Thanks again for these clarifications.

  59. I don’t quite understand why demand forecasting is being seen as the core issue here. Yes, the lack of an accurate ability to forecast demand can lead to customers having to wait for a future print run to get a copy, but the issue here is that pre-orders of an existing print run aren’t being fulfilled. After reading through some of the distributors’ and retailers’ comments this feels to me as a layman as a problem of a broken pre-ordering system that doesn’t actually allocate anything to the end consumer.

    As a consumer my assumption is that a pre-order is an allocation of a game to me. In this day and age I would expect that if distributor a orders 2k from a publisher, that publisher would then only have 8k to allocate to other distributors, and that if i pre-order from a retailer that I’m 1 out of that 2,000 for that distributor and they can only accept 1,999 more pre-orders across all of their retailers. It doesn’t seem like that is even remotely close to what is happening and there is no central system in place to communicate inventory allocations which leads to everyone in the process just guessing as to how much they can order. Ultimately something like 20k preorders can be sold on a print run that is only 10k and you have 10k unhappy customers looking for someone to blame for not having a game they were promised on day one.

    To put it this way, if you forecasted and made 10,000 games, it would suck to be told you are the 10,001th person so you have to wait a bit longer to make an order and you might blame forecasting for that inconvenience, but if you are allowed to pre-order and it turns out that you won’t be provided a copy it just feels like someone somewhere in the pipeline may have oversold or lied to you.

    1. ploopus: It would be wonderful if a system were in place that communicated consumer preorders to retailers to distributors to publishers, but that’s a lot of layers, and there is no such thing.

      However, this does resonate with why the preorder system I use (when I accept direct preorders from customers) is one that ensures that the customer will get a copy of the product and why I don’t even accept the preorder unless I currently have the product in stock. Like, I could be accepting preorders right now for Wingspan’s next printing, but I don’t have those games yet, and there are lots of things that could happen between then and now. So I wait.

  60. As a big fan of Stonemair games this is especially disappointing. If this was your first rodeo I could completely understand miss gauging the demand for your game. The amount of high profile marketing that went into it, with such a strongly established brand to say you couldn’t guess how much demand there would be feels hollow to me. This is just fuel for those that exploit the secondary market to price gouge and stockpile, thus making it longer for fans and those that truly appreciate your products to enjoy this game. I’m not saying I won’t get this game, in fact I will. My gf can attest to the personal excitement I’ve expressed for well over a month. I hope this will not become the Stonemair standard, but an unpleasant hiccup in an otherwise impeccable record.

    1. Steven, as I mentioned, I had to guess the quantity of the print run in August, well before any high-profile marketing. It was an informed guess based on my experience and with conversations with distributors, and it was wrong.

      Conversely, I guessed a larger quantity for Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and I still have several thousand copies in stock. So while it may feel hollow to you, I think you might be underestimating the level of guesswork that happens for a new game. So many different factors are in play. Yes, I guessed wrong, and that’s on me, it’s not a hollow excuse. It’s a very real problem that does not get better even as a publisher grows.

      1. Let me be clear Stonemair is and will continue to be one of my favorite publishers. Thank you for your transparency and candor.

  61. ….Beyond manipulative. Almost a cult-like following for this guy with zero business credentials. This comment will be deleted with the rest of any negative comments to be more manipulative, disgusting.

    1. I have not deleted any negative comments, but I have redacted two (one supportive of me but that used inflammatory language towards people who disagree with me and one that was in disagreement of me in a way that was in appropriate). I’m sorry you have such a large chip on your shoulder that it has led to these delusions, and I wish you the best in breaking out of this level of empty vitriol into more constructive behavior.

      I had to smile, of course, at your comment about business credentials. :) Do you know anything about my background? I’m not claiming that I’m *good* at business, but I did major in business, I worked as a project manager for 4 years, I worked as a director of operations for 6 years, and I’ve run Stonemaier Games for 7 years. If you’re looking for a badge, card, or fancy pocketwatch, though, I have nothing to show you.

    2. wow. thank you for pushing back JS, you should not have to deal with this abuse. what is next – death threats? JS has worked to earn our devotion. And honestly, when he is taking so much emotional turmoil over this – from fans – you cannot say he has the mind control of a cult.

  62. As always, your transparency is part of what makes your brand so easy to resolutely trust. I admit I didn’t pre-order, because the theme didn’t appeal to me. The game seemed to explode overnight with anticipation, and I’m not sure how you could have predicted that. Hopefully you don’t lose too much sleep over any negative comments thrown your way. Keep making the good stuff, and us loyal fans will stay that way.

  63. See the Wingspan-inspired cake at 30:39 and celebrate!
    https://youtu.be/u32pnCPvRbE

    Jamey, I think it still is a day to celebrate for you. Wingspan is precedent-setting in several regards, and I think, overall, the events that have transpired and the way you have handled them is moving things in a positive direction. I send you a virtual piece of this Wingspan-inspired bird feeder cake I saw Stephanie (Sugar High Score) show off on a Dice Tower segment a few weeks ago.

  64. Jamey made a bad decision regarding production, but it was a judgment call made when it wasn’t known what the demand would be. More annoying and frustrating is how distributors and retailers have been handling the shortage. I called ten local game stores today, and they received a grand total of two copies. Not two each, TWO total. Even more annoying is that there doesn’t seem to be any way to reserve a copy from the next release in April, and I don’t want to spend over $100 on eBay.

  65. Maybe you should have done what economics would say you should have done and paused pre-orders and jacked up the price to take advantage of the increased demand. I wonder if anonymous Facebooker would have liked paying double or triple the price to get the game today.

  66. You games are awesome and so are you Jamey, you always provide detailed explanations and incite which is refreshing. I will gladly wait till the 4th print run if need be, for sure i will get a copy but in the mean time Viticulture can tide me over.

  67. I have an idea for a Kickstarter: the world’s tiniest violin for those who are full of complains but have never actually tried to design, sell, manufacture, and distribute a game.

  68. Offering a print and play version would be welcome. A bare bones pdf with just the cards and end round scoring tiles would be perfect. The beautiful artwork, flavor text would simply have to wait until we have the retail version in hand. This would give us as gamers, and fans the opportunity to play this highly anticipated game outside of a digital medium to tide us over until it becomes readily available again.

    1. Steve: That’s a great request! We actually do offer Wingspan on Tabletopia, so it’s accessible to everyone. I’m glad you said this, as I forgot to mention Tabletopia in the post–I’ll add it now.

  69. Jamey made a bag decision when deciding how many to produce, but he made a judgment call based on what he knew at the time. Distributors and retailers made the situation worse. I called 10 local game stores today, and they received two copies of Wingspan. Not two apiece – two TOTAL. What is especially troubling is that now I can’t find a way to order the game to receive it in April – I certainly don’t trust my FLGS will be able to get it. I also don’t want to pay $100 or more on eBay.

  70. Disappointed people will always have the potential to complain loudly, but to be honest I think this is indicative of a larger problem – gamers don’t understand the publishing process. Now I know you have spent a fair amount of time covering this information in the past (indeed, your transparency on these matters is one of the reasons I hold so much respect for you) but this information isn’t widely distributed. I believe there needs to be a greater push for this information to be shared and readily available for everyone. This is an industry issue, not specifically a Stonemaier one. Of course this wouldn’t stop people being disappointed but it would hopefully help them to temper their expectations.

  71. All I can add to the fine comments above is that publishers have little control over the downline – shipping companies and their delays, distributors, and FLGStores. FLGS’ depend on distributors (and their shipping), and distributors depend on shipping and publishers. I think we are remiss if we blame publishers for the problems created downline! What we all need is patience and understanding that unforeseen ‘things happen’ at every little in the supply chain. My mom used to say, “there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.” So, at every level there will usually be ‘slips’: delays, unforeseen events and issues. At least, in the case of Stonemaier there is awesome communication, total transparency, and genuine concern for the customer. And that keeps me coming back to Stonemaier! I trust Jamie whole-heartedly and have found him to be a ‘breathe of fresh air’ in an industry where I have found some to be much less communicative, caring, and transparent. Thanks, Jamie for who you are and all you seek to do for the customer.

  72. I really appreciate Jamey coming out and telling us the situation and I fully understand that – what I dont appreciate is the FLGS that continues to have Wingspan on sale and saying that it will arrive in 3 days time by courier to you when they dont have any in stock and still not coming out and saying there is a stock issue!
    I live in New Zealand and purchasing games from the States can be prohibitive due to the cost of postage – often exceeding the price of the game itself – however I still do purchase games from the US as the wait time for game arrival in NZ is months and months and months at times. Thus when I really want a game I usually order from the US.
    With this being said – I got it wrong – I so WISH I had ordered from Stonemaier Games – the small wait that a lot of people are complaining about is nothing – I am left with not having ordered Wingspan from my FLGS because I have no faith in when it will be in stock and the lack of transparency from them re stock levels expected and whether they have already been assigned.
    I wish a lot of gamers in the US would realise how lucky they are with regards to game selection and availability,the minimal postage costs and delivery times and actual prices of the board games themselves.
    Jamey did his best to access the demand for Wingspan – he got it wrong – but be thankful that he is still in the business of designing / producing the NEXT boardgame that we can all get really EXCITED about – I know that I am really looking forward to both Wingspan (whenever I can get a copy – but Im prepared to wait ) and the next Stonemaier game – THANK YOU Jamey 😀

  73. I walked into my FLGS on Friday, caught the fellow boardgamer behind the counter, and said, “So… did either of us win the Wingspan lottery today?” Neither of us had, and while it was mildly disappointing, we both knew we had a stack of other games to learn and play in the meantime. It just meant we couldn’t be late early adopters (the January pre-order folks get true early adopter status).

    It’s a bummer of a situation, but there’s no way I can be angry about it. Especially since Jamey once happened to notice a tweet I posted about one of my kids dousing my Scythe board in Diet Mt Dew and then got in touch with me to have a replacement sent out.

    The game will come when it comes, and my bird watching wife will love it, and all will be well. Until then, there are lots of other games to play.

  74. With a link from NYT, my guess is you might have to fire up the printers for the fourth print run sooner than you thought… Anyway, this is a great problem for Stonemaier to have, and given the high quality of your products, well deserved. Was just at a small con in NH and there were half a dozen copies being played at all times. I put in a pre-order for the next run, and I can wait patiently until they get here, whether next week or next year. Good luck managing success in the meantime!

  75. I appreciate that you’re responding to the demand now, and reprinting as fast as you can to satisfy that demand and get ahead of it.

    This is in stark contrast to the frustrating and self-defeating approach I’ve seen taken by another game company:
    1) King’s Forge gets Kickstarted, and the publisher prints a small amount of surplus beyond the Kickstarter orders.
    2) The surplus sells out immediately on the game’s first demo day.
    3) Rather than immediately ordering a reprint, the publisher green-lights an expansion to King’s Forge, and:
    3a) Designs a Kickstarter campaign for the expansion, in which you can also preorder a reprint of the base game.
    3b) Expansion Kickstarter is successfully funded.
    3c) Designs, playtests, and prototypes the expansion.
    3d) Troubleshoots the expansion printing process.
    3e) Lets the expansion development slip months behind schedule.
    4) Only then do they reprint the base game, more than a year and two holiday seasons after the initial release sold out.

    Ultimately, the publisher’s greed in trying to rush the expansion (and their inability to stay on schedule for it) severely undercut the momentum of the game. By the time they got around to reprinting, several friends who had spent months playing my copy and wishing they could get their own had moved on to the next shiny thing.

    All that said, King’s Forge is available for retail now, and it’s a really delightful and well-executed game.

  76. Jamey, I absolutely appreciate your transparency. I value this of your YouTube channel as well. I popped in to say though that your lesson here on game distribution is really helpful. I hadn’t entirely understood the distributor aspect before, but it makes sense to me now. I really want Wingspan, but I can wait until May. It’s not like I don’t have other games to play, especially since I watched your 2-person game video.

    Unrelated, thanks for making My Little Scythe. It allowed me to introduce my love of boardgames to my younger nieces and nephews.

  77. “Distributors knew exactly how many copies of Wingspan they were getting as early as mid-January. Basically, your retailer sold you something they didn’t have–they just hoped to get copies from their distributors.”
    I don’t think it’s fair to blame retailers:
    – Asmodee UK still accepted pre-orders for the game literally a week before release, and they never said anything about allocations.
    – ACD Blackfiredidn’t even say they will not have any (or none for some of us). The bulk of my order there was placed before 03.01.2019, some additions by the end of January. Didn’t get any from them.
    – Same with other distributors (Greece, Germany, etc.) that didn’t get us any copies.

    I’ve ordered plenty of copies everywhere and got just enough (from two of the European distributors) to serve my preorders and to have 3 more games to sell. Gone now after people realized they are actually on stock, not a pre-order for April :)

    IMO the biggest mistake you made was asking distributors. Most of them have no idea what they are buying. Sure, based on initial sales they can now have better understanding of demand, but that’s a bit too late.
    In my opinion any decent retailer would have told you this is a future bestseller, based on the theme, mechanics and components alone, not to mention if you had some gameplay to show off. We know our customers.

  78. So, as an employee of a gamestore, to defend us a little. We didn’t know how many we were getting allocated til about a week or two before release (and let me tell you the hype was high far before that!). I was hoping we’d at least get 5 as I really want a copy but put our customers first (and for this game boy is that a hard thing to do!) and we only got 2 copies. Thankfully we only had two pre-orders but had spots for 5, again as that’s our usual amount during tight times, it seemed fair. I am glad it worked out but it was certainly not expected!
    Mistakes are okay, and happen. But I will let you know boy does it sadden me that I can’t promote and sell this game, it’s fantastic and like many other games that arrive in such small numbers, I hate not being able to shout from the rooftops about how amazing they are until far far far later (and usually by then people have turned to paying scalping prices on Amazon :/ ) I can only speak for my store but we absolutely want to sell your games and see people happily playing them!
    Don’t let negativity keep you down, just keep tweaking the process and learning and that’s all you can do :)

    1. Katie: You’re right, it appears that at least one distributor did not inform stores of the shortage until the release week–I had no idea that they would wait that long to tell stores, as they knew about in mid-January. I’m talking to them about not doing that again, and I would encourage stores to talk to distributors about that late communication as well. In the meantime, I’ll try to do my job better as well when forecasting demand.

  79. Thanks for taking the time to address this. I’m not mad or disappointed. I applaud your courage. Many would stay silent and just not bother. I eagerly await my chance at getting my hands on a copy of Wingspan. Hopefully, in the 2nd print run and not the 3rd. Fingers crossed…

  80. I didn’t get my copy of Wingspan either, but still managed to play it. It’s a great game, and I’m eagerly awaiting for stock to arrive. Thanks for bringing the game to market and all your efforts.

  81. Thank you very much for your transparency. I can understand why people are disappointed. A Bible proverb accurately states: “Expectation postponed makes the heart sick, But a desire realized is a tree of life.” ( or in this case: ‘a desire realized is a fantastic game that is well worth the wait’.)

    I admit was fortunate to learn about the game and sign up as a Stonemaier champion so that I could get it early. I am already eagerly anticipating the first expansion that is in development.

    I know some mentioned using Kickstarter, but production delays happen there also even though they know exactly how many copies they need to start with. Forecasting is an imperfect science. Just look at the weather as an example, and that is with all of the radar and computer models they have available to assist them.

    If I didn’t already have my copy, I would also be very disappointed, but I have 2 Kickstarters that I backed which both had delays in delivery. Though I am disappointed to have to wait longer, I have had plenty of other good games in my collection that I enjoy. I have still been able to enjoy my life and my gaming experience without them. When they come, a different spice will be added to my life. Until then the spices I have are still quite flavorful.

  82. Jamey, I’ve been thinking about possible solutions to improve future releases. Have you thought about setting up a prediction market? Essentially crowdsourcing the prediction part that you get from Kickstarter without the funding. You could keep the market closed to specific stakeholders. I envision teasing more and more information. As you do, the prediction would get more accurate.

    Setting it up could take a lot of time and the first instance might not prove useful because you won’t know how to translate market interest to actual number of copies. I could see this helping to make the initial order more accurate and knowing earlier if you need to schedule a second printing. Unlike Kickstarter, it would still keep the time between public announcement and release relatively short.

    Use the wisdom of crowds. Make it a game even.

    Chris

  83. I’ve only heard of the game *because* of the outcry. Honestly, it looks like a great game. I’d like to get it, eventually. Keep up the flow of information and you’ll come out on top. Never go radio-silent when there’s a problem. Never you mind the negative people. The game looks gorgeous. I hear it plays well too. I appreciate your response to push out a second printing as soon as you heard there was a demand.

  84. Looks like a GREAT game! I didn’t hear about it until today, but it sounds PERFECT for my bird-obsessed, math and board/card-gaming loving son. Any tips on the best spots to keep an eye out (or email list(s) to sign up for?) to find out as soon as it’s available again?

  85. Just heard about this game! Too bad about the release glitches. Alas, we don’t live in a perfect world. You’ll laugh about this, and probably very soon, as the game rolls out and the heavy bread rolls in! Kudos on what looks to be a delightful game.

  86. PS, the image in the NYTimes showed an Atlantic Puffin, a Roseate Spoonbill and an Osprey. We were down in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico about two months ago and saw the Spoonbills and an osprey, down to the details of a very unlucky fish in her talons, slowly, slowly flopping. Circle of life. It was a good day, thanks for the memories.

  87. These complaints strike me as pretty absurd and juvenile. You’re great, your games are some of the best that have been made, just keep doing what you do. Your work makes the world a better place.

  88. […] 在展翅翱翔的測試階段,測試員曾擔心鳥類為主的遊戲較難引起共鳴。但遊戲在 1 月開始接受預訂,一星期內竟預售超過 5,000 盒,現已印刷至第三版,英文版本總計印刷 30,000 盒,還有 14,000 盒外語版本。在官方發佈當日,需求超出供應量,出版商更要公開道歉。 […]

  89. To me this is only an issue if the company refuses to print more. I think most people realise that most publishers in this industry can’t afford to print 5000 copies of a game they cannot sell. I like that Stonemaier games commits to games getting more print runs if the demand is there. I’ve got games to fill the time until I do get a copy. The model that bothers me is the “ KS only “ model. If you want it, hope for another KS or pay inflated costs for a second hand game. The focus on fans is what makes me seriously look at every Stonemaier game as a potential purchase.

  90. I’m a late backer, but honestly, this is the sort of situation that I prefer when the developers don’t think what they have is up to snuff. Let it bake more and become refined. We’ll all get a better game from it. Here here to the bravery of all involved in the creation of this game to call out that it isn’t ready and we just need to wait. I wish all games would do something similar!

  91. I started buying direct from you instead of my local game store for posts like this alone. I live your transparency and honesty. You have easily become my favorite game compan.

      1. So, I wrote this while in a car on my way to San Francisco (my wife is driving). I clearly need a less aggressive auto correct or you know proof my comments before I post. I only made about 20,000 spelling errors because I can’t type in a moving car on a small keyboard. I feel the shame.

  92. I thought there would be games available in May. Is there a delay that pushed it to July? Sorry if this has been discussed somewhere else. I should have preordered I. February, but it said on several sites that large numbers would be available in May, and I wanted to give it as a bday gift for my bird loving 12-year-old. Is July the soonest to expect a copy if I haven’t preordered at this point? Thank you!

  93. Hi Jamey,

    You told me to comment here with an idea I have about how to better forecast demand, so here I am with the idea:

    Before you decide on the the size of each print run, send an email to your fans. The email should contain:

    -game title
    -box art
    -basic information about the game
    -elevator pitch about what makes the game cool
    -components image or mock-up, if possible
    -a carefully-constructed survey containing questions designed to assess how interested your fans are

    If you do this for each game, over time, you’ll be able to correlate the results of the survey with the empirical demand for each game. With such a correlation in hand, you’ll be able to make predictive assessments of demand. Over time, as you accumulate data, the quality of the predictions will improve (if you do it right).

    Does this make sense? Write me if you’d like more detail or to discuss it more. I have a couple of other ideas along these lines that might help even more, but I don’t want to spam this thread with a super long post.

    1. Nick: Thanks for sharing this here. I appreciate the idea, though it’s in opposition to our current mode of operation, which involves us not sharing any of the information you listed until the games have already finished production and have almost arrived at our warehouse. You’re right that all of that information would help us estimate demand, but due to the conflict with our marketing strategy (explained in detail here: https://stonemaiergames.com/the-secrets-of-mad-king-jamey/), it isn’t something we would attempt at this time.

      1. Bummer. Without being able to put anything about a game in front of fans, I think you’re hosed on the prediction front. The only people who can really provide predictive data are the customers themselves, imo.

        I urge you to keep an open mind about the different ways of sharing information. Here’s why: when it comes to the impact of information sharing, the devil is very much in the details, and there a million ways to do it. The weaknesses you’ve seen in sharing information over long pre-publication periods in the past might be largely avoided with a different specific scheme. In fact, I’d bet the optimal info flow involves significant pre-publication info sharing, because (imo) staying close to the customer has profound value. The trick is in thinking very carefully in picking the right system, and then sticking with it.

        For example, I believe it’s possible to construct a system that would have told you not to publish Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, before you put a ton of work into it at all. The economic value of avoiding duds in this business is profound. But I believe that, to construct that system, it would have to involve early (very early) information sharing with customer.

        1. Definitely, I consider everything a work in progress, and I understand that there are things I do that directly impede the demand forecasting process. At the same time, I have to balance those decisions with my ability to make the game as big of a success as possible, and I think the very short gap between announcement and preorder release has a direct impact on that (though, not having enough games can cause more trouble too).

          For the record, I think we made the right decision in publishing Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig. It’s accomplished its goal of bringing joy to tabletops worldwide, and the playtester data supported our hypothesis that people would enjoy the game. We printed too many, yes, but the correct quantity for that game wasn’t 0.

          1. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to challenge your assertion about Ludwig, in good faith.

            The choice you’re really making with your time isn’t between publishing zero vs. some non-zero number of copies of Ludwig – rather, it’s between publishing Ludwig, and some other game (that could potentially please a lot more people) instead. That’s because the opportunity cost of publishing Ludwig is NOT publishing some other game. Does that make sense? If you agree that this is true, then publishing 0 copies of Ludwig may indeed have been the correct choice. Basically, I think there is a way to make these kinds of decisions much better than most publishers do, but it requires putting your stuff in front of the customer long before it’s ready to go to the printer.

          2. That makes sense. Given that in particular, I would, without a doubt, still have spent my time, energy, and resources on Castles. If, on the other hand, it had only sold 3000 copies worldwide in all languages, I would agree that I made the wrong decision to invest in it. But it’s done much better than that. It may not be a mega-hit, but that’s okay.

          3. Point taken. But then just substitute whatever game has done worst for you, and consider what the economic value would be of having used the time and money spent publishing it on some game that could have done much better.

            I have an idea about how to make such assessments predictively, but would rather not share in a public forum.

          4. I agree. I mean, you’re essentially describing exactly how Stonemaier Games operates. We don’t publish a dozen games a year hoping that 1 or 2 will be hits. We focus on 1 or 2 games each year and do everything we can from start to finish to ensure that they’ll be hits.

  94. Point of frustration. I pre-ordered this game from a local brick and mortar 3 months ago. They were told they would have the game this month after the debacle of under production. Now they are being told they are not going to get copies until June. I go on the internet just to see if there’s a rogue copy out there for giggles. What I find is people on ebay with multiple copies charging an insane amount. Thanks to this artificial sense of demand, people who actually want to play the game and add it to their collection have to compete with these scavengers. I really truly feel you’ve failed your fans on this one. I fail to understand how a bunch of distributors just made up the amount of product they had to put up for preorder. Was there zero communication between you and the people that connect to these small local brick and mortars you attest to support? As each ebay auction gets added, some with multiple copies for sale, I feel less and less like you are sincere in this apology and just want consumers to utilize a direct market with your website. If that’s the case just say it. Don’t hide behind they were selling copies they didn’t have.

    1. Dan: We informed distributors of their exact allocations in mid-January, so your retailer had the potential to know their allocation at that time.

      I’m sorry you feel like I have something to hide, but I don’t. My words as written in the post reflect the facts.

    2. I don’t agree with your interpretation of the facts, Dan. However, I **do** wonder if distributors need to change the way they do business. Ity seems like online and FNGS should be able to offer preorders for the upcoming May shipment. I can’t find anyone doing this! Why? I’m worried that it might be because the distributors are either A) waiting to see how many copies they can sell to their “big purchasers” and/or B) Hoping to snag a number of copies to ebay themselves.

      In any case, the stress of going to my favorite online game sellers day after day to continue encountering the “Not Available” sign is really stressful. One feels like if you’re not there on their website within 15 minutes after they put their May copies of the game up for sale that you won’t get a copy…..again. If the FLGS and onlinbe guys even GET theris from the distributors in May….

      Trying to continue waiting patiently but expecting doom on the horizon….

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