Well, another Essen has come and gone. And it is an ill Essen that blows no good and this one is no exception.
Mike Siggins and Emanuel Soeding bring us the scoop direct from the show. My best guess is that Serenissima will send many of you scrambling for your wallets. It looks like a goody.
Both of our early reporters thought the pickings were pretty weak. Mike then goes on to recommend six of the new games and take a wait and see attitude with fourteen others. Manu is more conservative but the numbers are still astounding compared to an average trek into my corner games store. Perhaps we are dealing with a bit of expectations inflation?
In any case, a number of game companies in Europe are in dire difficulty. Mike also notes that while there were a number of good new games at Essen, the proportion that are gamers' games seems to be less than in the past. My suspicion is that there are two forces at work here and both of them involve new competition in the German market. On one side we have well funded native newcomers like GoldSeiber and the newly flush Hans im Glück. Competitors like these are bound to make times tough for some of the folks competing for the same game buy. In the Spielfreak/gamers' game market, the arrival of Wizards of the Coast and that singular phenomenon, Magic: The Gathering, no doubt caused hard times for their competition throughout last year. Even a Spielfreak's pocket has a bottom and Herr Garfield was feeling around for the last spot of lint in those pockets. Even if most folks have recovered from CCG fever (Alan Moon seems to be the last to catch it), we will see a shakeout as companies that were always cash poor fail after a year of weaker than normal sales.
Who will be the winners as the Spielfreaks spread out in a post-CCG world? My money is on Hans im Glück (who have Reiner's Tigris & Euphrates in the wings), Mayfair (with their European imports), and Eurogames (with a slow but steady supply of games gamers like).
A sad tip of the hat to White Wind. All the way up to the end I kept hoping they would pull it back together. Best wishes to both Alan and Peter. And gamers throughout the world should keep your eyes peeled for the Alan Moon releases pending from various publishers during the coming year. As one poster to a German newsgroup said, "Elfenroads for less than $150! Oh, boy!"
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell