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Fantasy Flight unveils Media Center

By Tim Kidwell
Published: September 27, 2010
Fantasy Flight Media center
The Fantasy Flight Media Center uses an iPad to help sell games.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are the lifeblood of the hobby game industry. As such, Steve Horvath, vice president of marketing and communication at Fantasy Flight Games, says it has been part of FFG’s mission to not only create fun games, but to do everything it can to help retailers sell them.

For years, FFG has been known for the high-quality videos it has produced and released to the Internet, ranging from movie-style trailers promoting upcoming games to gameplay tutorials.

“These videos we have done have been very, very impactful,” Horvath said. “We get tens of thousands of hits (and some even bigger than that), on our website. We also have our own iTunes channel; our own channel on YouTube.” The success that Fantasy Flight has had with its videos, which also includes producing DVDs for stores, finally led it to the idea for the media center.

The Fantasy Flight Media Center is an iPad with a custom chassis built around it, about the size of the company’s square-box games. It is equipped with unique software that allows it to be an “interactive media center” on a store’s shelf right next to the products that customers are looking at.

Last April, Pat Fuge, owner of Gnome Games in Green Bay, Wis., issued a challenge to game publishers and manufacturers to “earn your space” in his store. He offered an area in his store that had sold $10,000 worth of product in the last year to the company who could supply the best point-of-purchase plan, materials and stock rotation.

“We thought [the contest] would be a great way to test [the media center] out show off what it could do,” Horvath said. “We did six months of rolling plan-o-grams, as well as 150 post cards every quarter” based on major releases that could be given out to customers.

Fantasy Flight was still in the middle of developing its media center. Horvath called Gnome Games and let Pat know that the Media Center would not be ready to go until August, and that if he wanted to pick another company instead, that they understood, and would still work with him on it.

Fuge, who looked at the contest as an experiment to explore fostering closer retailer and manufacturer relations, told Horvath that he was comfortable in working with Fantasy Flight and to help get the Media Center program up and running. In addition to Gnome Games, two other stores received Media Centers for beta testing.

“Fantasy Flight has tapped into something,” Fuge says of the Media Center. He’s seen his sales of Fantasy Flight Games increase by 200% since putting it in his store. “The iPad is a great tool and it’s very effective at creating brand awareness.”

The Media Center has become a training tool for his employees too, Fuge says. Simply by listening to the videos as they have been played in the store, his employees have learned how to effectively explain game features, rules and even gameplay.

“At the end of the day, we’re trying to do this to help retailers sell games,” Horvath said. You can watch a video about the Media Center here.

Retailers who are interested in the Media Center can click here and visit the website and fill out an application. The application requires the store to agree to a one-time $999 restock of FFG products, either through authorized distribution partners or directly from Fantasy Flight. With that, Fantasy Flight provides the Media Center for free. The store needs to have Wi-Fi and an electrical socket for the system to work, but beyond that, FFG is footing the cost for the Media Center.

The reason for the restock order is to make sure that stores have the product on-hand to make the Media Center initiative a successful one.

“The whole thing about this is to excite customers and help the retailers sell our products,” Horvath said.