Those of us who paid attention to the recent Game Workshop reveals from the Nova Open seemed, by and large, to be pleased. We got photos of a nice, slick-looking new Death faction for Age of Sigmar, some new Middle Earth models, hints at a new Psychic Awakening campaign event in 40k and so forth.
And, if you’re me (and countless other gamers) you found yourself really pleased to learn that a Sisters of Battle army box will be available in November with 25 models and the limited edition codex… but at an as-yet-unknown price point.
However, my joy turned quickly to disappointment when I realized something: More than likely, this set that I was very excited about would probably have limited availability – meaning that I’d likely have to fight other gamers and, sadly, eBay scalpers to get one.
Now, whether or not this is actually going to be the case with this particular box, it’s been an increasing issue with certain GW products (and probably products of other games publishers) that in-demand sets are produced on a limited basis, and then go out of print. And sometimes this fact doesn’t seem to be made widely-known; you think you’ve got all the time in the world to buy something, but months later when you’ve got the money and the will to make the purchase, it’s gone.
This can force the hobbyist to make an unfortunate kind of calculus in their head about how to get hold of one of these sets they want within the limited timeframe. Do you save up money ahead of time? Do you place a pre-order with GW, knowing that to do so you may need to camp out on their website because the item could go out of stock very quickly? Do you try to get it from an independent stockist, also knowing that you may have to contact them as soon as preorders go up because it may go out of stock very quickly? Do you chance it and try to get it on eBay, where scalpers will likely charge cutthroat prices? Or do you just give up and decide you’d rather paint Orks instead?
I understand the philosophy behind limited availability. It can drive up sales, while also saving having to produce lots of a product that’s expensive to make. It’s a strategy used throughout the economy on countless products, obviously, not just gaming items. But there does seem to be a large portion of the “limited availability” market that focuses on geek items – think “con exclusive” toys, giveaways and so forth. That, I think, unfairly takes advantage of the nature of geek collectors.
What I dislike about it the most is the stress it causes to us gamers who just want to get our hands on something neat that we’d like to have. Limited availability can put us into a “Black Friday” mentality where we’re suddenly willing to throw an elbow to get a product that we’d like, and then feel disappointment after we’ve only just missed getting it, after spending a lot of time and energy to try.
I don’t think limited availability is going away anytime soon. But it’s definitely made be think twice about whether or not I’m going to use my time and mental bandwidth to buy the items that are marketed this way.
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube