The Publisher Trade Show?

My travel schedule sometimes feels insanely hectic. In 2018 I've spent time in Portland, Reno, Columbus, Atlanta, which makes for a light first quarter of the year, but now it ramps up. I have flights currently booked to Madison, back to Columbus, San Diego, and Indianapolis for this summer, and the slate seems to keep growing and growing.


Some of the shows I attend are trade shows, they're us industry folk motoring around doing business, and some of those are consumer shows, where I love to watch people shop. Watching people shop at GenCon is a singular pleasure that can make future purchasing decisions for my store easier. The last three days I've been in Atlanta for CMON Expo, a consumer-facing trade show that is focused on the work of just one company; CMON. Do shows like this work? What's the critical mass of sales, customers, and product line, that allows you successfully host a show where the only thing you do is show off your work to consumers. I'm not going to make any effort to answer that question here today. I won't attempt to make any guesstimates on whether or not CMON considered the show successful, or what they should do differently, or anything. Today, I'm just going to share some observations. I had a darn blast. The folks at CMON absolutely excel at engaging their consumers in demos that are fun and interesting, and watching the floor during demos, where CMON had approximately twenty tables or so up, was something of a joy for me. I loved listening in as people got up from a Rising Sun demo, or a Council of Four demo, and immediately talked about the things they liked or disliked about the game. The crowds of people around the SIF demo were a wonder to behold, as many of them were being introduced to what will be their first minis game. Listening to neophyte miniatures gamers get up from that demo table and talk strategy, or express excitement about the hobby aspects of the genre, was a real delight for me. Of course, CMON being a publisher of games, there was also time for CMON to show off some things that aren't out yet, and get the retailers in attendance ready for the next things coming. I put my hands on a prepro copy of Narcos, and a prepro copy of Gizmos. I got to play Dragon Castle and really get a good feel for where it fits in my store. We got to see Way of the Panda early, and Arcadia Quest Riders (holy heck the mount minis are awesome). It was, as all of these shows are for me, an educational experience that will give my store a leg up in the coming months. This show made me happy on a number of different levels. First, I love watching consumers love a product, and CMON customers have an affection for the brand that may be second to none in our industry. Second, the first one hundred and thirty two days of 2018 have been kind of 'meh' when it comes to new board game releases. My best sellers this year by dollars are all things that came out last year; Bunny Kingdom, Sagrada, Azul. The firehose of new products that seemed to be arriving in 2016 and 2017 has slowed to something like a trickle...we're now moving a bit like molasses in an Idaho winter. I wish as an industry we could find the middle ground instead of one extreme or the other, but I guess this is what I get for now. So, the thing that made me happy about this getting to put my hands on some CMON products that are going to move units. I think two titles I touched this weekend will be Top 25 in both units and dollars moved when the year ends. One of them has a real strong chance of cracking Top 10 in those categories. Finally, CMON had a giant library of titles behind the counter, so I got to play other cool games with cool people this weekend. From the library we pulled Cursed Court, Ethnos, and of course, Bunny Kingdom, which I got to teach to some people who hadn't played it, and I like to think their lives are better now. I don't know that this model, the consumer facing show for a single publisher, can work for many publishers, but I really enjoyed this weekend at CMON Expo. Now it's time to head home. I get to spend seven days there before ACD GamesDay! See some of you there!

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