Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by thebigteacher » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:49 pm

Fantastic conversation. I still want a few beans.

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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by NiandoBG » Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:30 am

Thanks for your participation in the discussion.
I think a lot of good reasons of pros & cons where mentioned.
And with the news from yesterday it turned out that you AnimeSensei was correct about the status of the development. Congrats ;)

I’m really glad about the communication.
I interpret the fact that Nate announced it in the forum first as a sign of: it matters what we say and discuss here. (Maybe I’m wrong, but at the moment I personally feel this way)

Thanks Nate and DF for doing so.

Best regards and happy gaming/painting :)
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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by zenako » Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:38 am

We spend more on DF kickstarters than all of my other KS combined, so from a $$$ perspective they clearly rule the terrain realm in our household, and toss in the NUMEROUS store orders and that is a lot of dwarvenite. Other KS are used to augment into various niches (Secret Weapon Mines for example) where we had no expectation that DF was going to be producing those types of tiles anytime soon.

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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by Rabbit Burner » Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:50 am

AnimeSensei hit a number of points we think are on point.

DF are not necessarily in a position to realease too many beans other than what they have as the KS is appoximately 6 months away and most sculpts will still be greens.

We have backed the Monster Fight Club KS (there we said it) as it does look good but we do think that Dreadhollow is a level above in quality. Both have advantages and disadvantages over each other.

We would agree that with KS7 this is a move into a new market and not necessarily one DF are that familiar with. But how many dungeon and Cavern tiles can you produce?

They did the same with Cities and Castles both of which were successes, just not a the same level as KSI and II and Dreadhollow was a great toe in the water to test the market for them.

Cities KSIII brought us into the DF fold from a wargamming perspective and we believe KS7 will draw more in from that market.

Remember that Cities and Castles were successful even though those markets already had significant players.

The facebook numbers being 2 to 1 for 3d printed tiles v DF to us just reflects the cost of each, if its cheaper you will get more interest than if its expensive. Quality matters but when you cant afford that quality it does not matter. DF produces premium modular tabletop terrain so only cater for those that have the disposable income to spend on its wares. So those facebook numbers are not surprising to us and not an indicator of any impending DF doom.

DF will always have to be innovating and keeping ahead of the 3D printer brigade who are only going to be improving, but will never be able to embed magnets or come out prepainted.

There will always be companies that try to fill the gap between budget and premium and there will be direct competitors, thats a fact of business.

But while there is money and appetite for premium (pre-painted) modular tabletop terrain we think that DF will have a market.

But like any business thay cannot rest on their laurels and will need to keep upping the ante and they have shown this by coming out of earth (KS 1 and 2) and smelling the sweet open air and been successfull and learnt a lot more about their craft (KS 3 and 4), to such a point they went back underground and were arguably even more successfull (KS 5 and 6).

A lot of their competitors in the wargamming market produce scatter terrain and do not produce tiles, very few do that and not to the level of detail that DF did it in Dreadhollow, so there is a market there.

But one thing we know of KS7 is there will be scatter terrain in response to those who wanted more from Dreadhollow, there will be more to cater for wargammers and DnDers that only want a few trees or boulders etc, similar to what Monster Fight Club are offering.

We like variation hence our backing of Monster Fight Clubs KS, but we also like quality and what we know. What we know is DF deliver and produce high quality table top terrain.

There is still no delivery we receive that gets us more exicted then a DF one. It is sooo good creating builds straight out of the box and wowing at its quality, heft and sheer modularity and usefulness.

And for those reasons we spend more of DF Kickstarters then anywhere else ...... even the garage :o
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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by GardenDM » Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:27 pm

AnimeSensei wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:38 pm
I understand what you are saying, and I agree with the points you make. I guess the issue then is perception.

DF has created a perception that they will release one kickstarter per year, even going as far as to launch before shipping is complete on the next one in order to maintain their factory slot and hit that goal of one per year. They have slid each year further and further back into the year, however. We are all EXPECTING KS7 to drop this year, and were all under the impression it would be sometime in the summer. Because of this, we expected them to have more to show us and wanted our BEANS!

If they are indeed 6 months away from launch, that really does mean they may not have a lot of beans to release at this time, and yes, if they release them too quickly it could cause an issue where they get usurped by another company. (And in a worse-case scenario, look like they are copying another company's product.)

The issue then comes down to what has caused the issues in both perception and timing? Which is more important to maintain, having a kickstarter each year, or making sure the product is novel? I would argue that the product should go first and foremost. That means they need to destroy the notion that they are doing a kickstarter soon. Stefan had one small comment, but we have no official word on the kickstarter timing. It might be a good idea to say in the newsletter or some other medium "we are looking at a Q3 or Q4 launch of our Wildlands kickstarter!" so people know where everything stands. If you allow people to have expectations but don't help manage those expectations, it can lead to disappointment and loss of a fanbase.

I would say based on this discussion that DF would do well to temper our expectations for KS7 in regards to timing (officially) so we are looking for our beans later in the development cycle. As it's been, I now think we have thought they were near the end of the cycle, and maybe they are in the midpoint.
Well said. I'd love to know how much breathing room I've got before the next DF KS! I'm still reeling from CD KS. :D

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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by AnimeSensei » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:38 pm

I understand what you are saying, and I agree with the points you make. I guess the issue then is perception.

DF has created a perception that they will release one kickstarter per year, even going as far as to launch before shipping is complete on the next one in order to maintain their factory slot and hit that goal of one per year. They have slid each year further and further back into the year, however. We are all EXPECTING KS7 to drop this year, and were all under the impression it would be sometime in the summer. Because of this, we expected them to have more to show us and wanted our BEANS!

If they are indeed 6 months away from launch, that really does mean they may not have a lot of beans to release at this time, and yes, if they release them too quickly it could cause an issue where they get usurped by another company. (And in a worse-case scenario, look like they are copying another company's product.)

The issue then comes down to what has caused the issues in both perception and timing? Which is more important to maintain, having a kickstarter each year, or making sure the product is novel? I would argue that the product should go first and foremost. That means they need to destroy the notion that they are doing a kickstarter soon. Stefan had one small comment, but we have no official word on the kickstarter timing. It might be a good idea to say in the newsletter or some other medium "we are looking at a Q3 or Q4 launch of our Wildlands kickstarter!" so people know where everything stands. If you allow people to have expectations but don't help manage those expectations, it can lead to disappointment and loss of a fanbase.

I would say based on this discussion that DF would do well to temper our expectations for KS7 in regards to timing (officially) so we are looking for our beans later in the development cycle. As it's been, I now think we have thought they were near the end of the cycle, and maybe they are in the midpoint.
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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by zenako » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:36 pm

Well as a big disclaimer, my wife is a gamer too and that makes things a LOT easier to handle on the money end of things. I have also gone in heavy on the prepainted minis to such an extent that I have later sold off a LOT of them (mainly to online shops in large bundles) that have more than paid for all my minis and so far DF acquisitions. I took the time to do that, and crossed that mental threshold of being willing to sell off stuff. When building my stash of minis, I often times would drop 4 figures on a collection if it was worth it to me. So the $$ end of things is not part of my calculation.

I do like to paint, but I do NOT like to paint a lot of things over and over again. Most terrain, while simple is tedious to paint in any quantity, which is why 95% of my DF was painted. I find there factory paint jobs to be perfectly fine for my table, just as I find the prepainted DDM, WizKids, Paizo minis work well too, for me.

I have acquired a lot of Bones and painted over a hundred of them so far with another 50+ in process, same story with the Mantic Terrain crates. I will paint things when I cannot get what I want prepainted, it is just that I find I have other things I need / want to spend time on instead. Time is perhaps the most important currency for me.

So back to DF and their niche. The PREPAINTED aspect of their offerings is absolutely essential to me for their appeal. I do not own a personal 3D printer, and really have no interest in going down that path. Sure you can create a custom item, but I can also create that custom item out of other materials and carve or cut them to fit the need. I back very few KS that require painting the product, Bones is perhaps the biggest exception, due to the seriously low price and the ability to tailor your pledge to just getting what you want.

DF is the current "gold standard" in 3D modular terrain for many settings. They are starting to feel their way into "wilderness" settings, and that poses some paradigm risks. Outdoor settings tend to be more free flowing and random, unlike dungeons and caves where the DM controls the whole world and where the characters can go. In a forest, the characters could choose to explore or go a completely different direction, and that requires a different style of terrain that can be flexible enough to work well. 6x6 forest floor tiles are not that flexible. If you want to have various tree spacings, having preset trunks is not that flexible. You need to be able to place those features on the gamemap where you need them, and not where the tile allows you place them. Having a nice forest floor game mat and being able to place trees and rocks where ever you want or need them makes for a more free flowing dynamic. I personally envision using my KS6 forest stuff for makng very specific settings, such as a small area near a cave/dungeon entrance. Almost more an extension of the cave rather than a free standing forest.

The challenge I see for DF is how to take what that are good at, tile based modular terrain (caves, dungeons, cities and castles) and adapt it to more free flowing settings. By its very nature the Monster Terrain KS offering is free flowing and better suits the wargamer / RPG free flowing wilderness setting needs of many. I do see some issues with some of those offerings where getting from one spot on a rock to another might be ???how many steps??? for a movement controlled game. DF has done an excellent job of building into there tiles a well established movement modularity that is compatible with current RPGs.

So when they push into new design territory it is only reasonable that they are being more cautious about what they show or hint at. The bane of missing expectations cannot be underestimated. Fans can be pretty unforgiving about not getting the goodies they thought they might be getting.
Last edited by zenako on Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by unclebilly » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:33 pm

As a wise man once said. "You got to know when to hold them. Know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run." haha. Same goes here you can keep your cards close but you had better watch out and you need to know when to show a little of them. I have done a few KS that later I thought I should have maybe just waited for DF to make it and they did. Also I have passed on some thinking DF will do this and they have not. So it is all a gamble. At this point I am betting on the sure thing as in the KS that is running that looks good and look like it will not fail to send out rewards. I like these tress and believe they will indeed send out the rewards. So I am in.

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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by kodiakbear » Mon Apr 22, 2019 2:16 pm

NiandoBG wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:35 pm
I always “persuade myself” that my motorcycle is in my basement but instead of having wheels it has nice tiles. (Not sure if you understand what I want to express)
Make sense to me, if others spend money on motorcycles, golf clubs, going out to drink, gun collections, or any other middle class adult hobby why not spend money on DF instead.

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Re: Why Dwarven Forge should not show beans for Wildlands - A business perspective explanation approach/discussion

Post by NiandoBG » Mon Apr 22, 2019 1:35 pm

dice4hire wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:43 am
I have seen a lot of companies, on Ks and not, who have shown everything they are doing and well in advance, and do well. In fact they might do better than they would have by keeping their cards close to the vest as it builds excitement and they can incorporate some customer feedback.
I agree at your argument in general, but there are certain business areas in which this is not the case. IMO this is especially the case if you look at market leaders, pioneers and followers. Dwarven Forge is the market leader (sales wise) for 3d Terrain. They are as well the pioneer (e.g. blink pieces, magnetic pieces) for a lot of things. If you look in other industires the followers try to copy good ideas very fast. Just look at the situation for Lego (toy bricks). E.g. at B2B fairs bloggers and influencers are not allowed to take pictures of new Lego products. They even have a lot of lawyers who try to get the internet clean of not allowed pictures of upcoming products. I think they would not spend the money if it’s not necessary. I know that the comparison is a little bit comparing apples with oranges but I assume the general direct is correct.
dice4hire wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:43 am
Also can these other companies, including 3D companies really beat DF at their own game? You are assuming they can and will if they know what DF is doing. I am not sure I agree.
Competitors try to and do copy the stuff and offer the solutions for the same general need: visualization of RPG/Tabletop Terrain. Just look at the stuff from the fat dragon games or open lock. There are a lot of similarities if I look e.g. at the sewer and street systems…
zenako wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 7:24 am
Some battles they just cannot win for some customers, and they should not even bother trying to chase those folks. Cater to the ones who got you here, and make things attractive enough that some new folks join in.
I agree, but I think these people might as well be relevant if it comes to gaining new customers:
Look at the biggest Facebook for 3d Printed tiles owned by a certain company: 6,711
vs.
Dwarven Forge -Fans/mods/tips/tricks 3,186 Members.
I think this number gives us some clues where the voyage leads to.

Firstly, we see there is a decent market for 3d terrain.
Secondly, if you consider the setup cost, hassle during the printing process and need to spend time to paint everything afterwards it’s quite astonishing that so many people are willing to do this (just deriving from the size of the facebook group)

You might argue that these members don’t know Dwarven Forge and that’s the reason why they are in this group but I don’t think so if I compare their marketing activities…

Moreover it seems that a lot of people are in search for an affordable 3d Tile Brand/Line and because of not finding one they are willing to spend a lot of time compared to money to fulfill their need.

Some people my switch sides to our premium DF Terrain. But ask yourself who can spend or is by his/her partner allowed to spend 1K, 3K or even 10K for dwarven forge stuff.
Additionaly even if you have spend the money it gets sometimes tricky and some behavioral theories come into my mind if people get aware that they could get “something similar” to 10% or less of their (potential) spendings. Looking at 10K and compare it to 3d printed terrain which may cost you not more than 1K. And just thing how many other cool things you could buy…
IMO only few people can afford and resist this kind of thoughts.
I always “persuade myself” that my motorcycle is in my basement but instead of having wheels it has nice tiles. (Not sure if you understand what I want to express)

Just some more thoughts to the discussion.
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