[stella] Calling all...
Subject: [stella] Calling all...|
From: Glenn Saunders <cybpunks@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 03:44:21 -0700
I think what Randy is doing is equivalent to the publisher that John Paul
Jones used for his Zooma album.... It's an arrangement that favors the
artist/programmer rather than the publisher.
Another analogy might be MP3.com and their disc-making facilities.
2600 games are one person (and some help from others on stellalist) per
game titles, and the fewer middlemen, the more direct the return on the
It's true that the biggest cost in making these carts is the
packaging. Color inkjet is great but it's water-based and it runs like
crazy (as my poor EBVision boxes can attest to). Nothing beats the
professional look of full bown 4-color offset printing, glossy paper, and
custom boxes and labels. But it costs thousands of dollars to get to that
point. You can imagine how expensive it was for 4-Play to make the
packaging for Battlesphere in proportion to the few numbers of carts they
made. That kind of printing is only cost-effective when you're at least
moving a thousand units, and few if any 2600 hobby games have sold that many.
I do think that the market for this kind of stuff is a lot larger in
theory, but the awareness isn't there, and may never be. For instance, if
Randy showed up as a guest of Jay Leno's or something, his sales would
probably go through the roof.
Aside from a few magazine articles, awareness of the hobby cart scene just
hasn't penetrated into the true mainstream. If it did, I probably would
have been able to find a broadcast deal for Stella at 20. This hobby is
still a subculture to many, despite the scholarly books coming out and
occasional magazine articles...
So for all intents and purposes I think we're stuck with the level of sales
we're seeing now.
That being said, what Chris said about it being almost impossible to build
a viable business model around this is true. There is a HUGE GAP between a
hobby 2nd business you can run in your spare time (like Cyberpunks is for
me) that you can fold rather painlessly and a primary sustaining
business. Besides the packaging issue, there are middlemen, lots of
middlemen. You have to have a large enough market to compensate for the
royalty fees and the middlemen otherwise you'll walk away having sold 100s
of times as many as the hobbyists and not even breaking even.
Heck, even people like Lance at Video61 are in big trouble with standing
warehouses full of stock because by and large the market that still exists
for classic games is saturated (i.e. we've pretty much got everything we
need). Storage costs alone can kill a business, even if you have a lot of
worth in your inventory. The local guy near me that sold me the 5 arcade
machines I have had to start Ebaying off his leftovers because he couldn't
afford the warehouse space.
I used to be active in the Atari8-bit scene and there was a guy called Mike
Hohman who bought out the rights to ICD's 8-bit stuff (like SpartaDOS-X and
the R-TIME8 cartridge). This was like in 1993 or 94, when the 8-bit
userbase was shrinking fast. He paid a shitload of money for these rights,
and after a long period of time managed to reintroduce some of this stuff
and do some minor versioning before disappearing completely from the face
of the earth, probably to escape his creditors. I felt bad for the guy,
but I pretty much knew it was going to go down that way.
When you get involved in business you have to think more like a calculator
and less with your heart. I'm sure Mike was a big 8-bit fan and he thought
he was going to save the platform by doing what he did, but he didn't make
a wise assessment of the marketplace. He was either too emotionally
invested or just plain foolish.
Now, I wish everybody luck in their endeavors. I really hope that Chad can
close the deal with Bridgestone and get that awesome Cuttle Cart out
there. And I hope that Ben manages to roll off some decent numbers of
VCSp's. But this is definitely the kind of market where you need to be
willing to lose money and not be too disappointed about it. It's
definitely not a cash cow right now.
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