Recently, Stonemaier Games, the makers of tabletop board games Scythe, Charterstone, Wingspan, and more, released a new Retailer and Distributor Communication Policy explaining that they would no longer be selling games to retailers who “actively and publicly spread false information about Stonemaier Games.”
From the official press release:
“Stonemaier Games reserves the right not to sell products to retailers whose representatives spread false information or make defamatory and derogatory public statements about Stonemaier Games. This Policy applies to statements published online (social media platforms, blogs, etc) at any time (past, present, or future).
Stonemaier Games unilaterally adopts this Policy and neither seeks nor accepts confirmation or assurance of compliance by retailers or distributors…”
In order to dig into the matter a bit deeper, I reached out to directly to Jamey Stegmaier, president and co-founder of Stonemaier games, about the new policy.
“I first want to say,” Jamey explained over email, “that the vast majority of retailers are doing amazing things to support our products and the products of publishers worldwide. This policy isn’t for them. The policy is for the handful of retailers who actively, blatantly, and publicly spread false information. I’ve seen that happen all too often over the last few months with regards to Stonemaier Games.”
So why enact a whole policy to combat these troublesome retailers? Jamey explains that when he “turned to distributors to ask them to stop selling our game to one retailer in particular, they said that they needed to point to an official policy. Hence the creation of it.” Jamey also said that, other than the one instance he’s already taken care of, he doesn’t hope to ever have to enforce this new policy.
And this isn’t just a flippant middle finger to retailers from a gaming company that doesn’t need them. Jamey says that roughly 90% of their business comes from retail sales (and he says that this number was much smaller back when they heavily relied on Kickstarter).
When asked about his thoughts on where the market is headed, Jamey says that while his company has moved away from Kickstarter, many others are still relying on it. And he thinks a lot about output, too. “I could point to companies like AEG and Stonemaier that are trying to focus on just a few games each year; however, there are other companies that feel the need to release a new game every month. There’s really a wide variety of strategies in the current market, and I think that’s great.”
But what do online sales and Kickstarter proliferation mean for friendly local gaming stores (FLGS)? “I’m sure that some FLGS are in trouble, but my perception is that many of them are thriving (or are actively working to adapt to the current market so that they can thrive). Based on an annual poll I run, more people are buying games from online retailers each year, but plenty of people are still drawn to amazing local stores. In my opinion, it’s important for both FLGS and online stores to thrive.”
As we closed out our conversation, I wanted to know what Jamey’s most excited about in the near future for Stonemaier Games. “In the most immediate future,” he says, “the Scythe modular board is our next product. It’s the final planned Scythe product, and it offers a ton of variability in terms of board setup for Scythe. We also continue to print more Wingspan as we attempt to catch up with demand!”
What do you think of Stonemaier Games’ new policy? Let us know in the comments below!