A lot of people have discovered our games in the last few years. And, while that’s a great thing, the increased demand has also led to an increased perception that we’re frequently out of stock. With more eyes on us and our online store (particularly with the word that information on the new version of Hoplomachus will be coming soon), we thought we would dive in behind the scenes to answer that oft-asked question: Why is [my favorite game] out of stock so often?
In essence, the answer boils down to three major factors: length of manufacturing, fiscal responsibility, and you.
Length of Manufacturing
Here’s something any Chip Theory Games fan could tell you: Our game components are very detail oriented. That also means our games simply take more time to make than other games of similar size. The biggest factor in the additional time is the fact that a large portion of each game you buy from CTG is assembled and printed by hand by our dedicated manufacturing partners.
Take Too Many Bones as an example. All of those chips for Gearlocs, baddies, and tyrants are hand-stickered. All of those lovely, custom dice are printed on hand-operated machinery. All of those neoprene Gearloc and Battle Mats have the overlaid fabric applied to them by hand. This process takes significantly longer than another game where components can be quickly printed or moulded by machine, and it also means the quality assurance inspection needs to be more rigorous.
Since printing even a smaller run of product takes longer, printing a larger run would take prohibitively long, long enough that we think a wait would try the patience of many of our would-be customers. Keeping print runs lower than other game companies do allows us to get the print runs out the door and into buyers’ hands faster.
At Chip Theory Games, we’re committed to sustainable and responsible growth that allows us to expand our team and our reach fairly and with less risk. That means we print what we can afford.
We generally do not take out loans to print games, and our games are expensive to make (remember that thing we said before about custom, hand-printed dice?). Most of them are also quite large, which means that if we over-order a product, that product is expensive to store, as well. Those expenses, combined with our commitment to not overextending ourselves financially, means that we generally have a lower ceiling on how much product we order. This is also one reason why we fund our new products through Kickstarter: We know we’ll have the capital to print an expensive product up front.
While Chip Theory is doing great right now, we want to make sure we’re still around well into the future, able to weather any unexpected economic issues that could come up. As such, we’re still committed to spending wisely, which means analyzing our demand and attempting to print to meet it, rather than printing for overstock.
Which leads us to our final factor…
Here’s the thing you may not know about: We actually have been regularly increasing our print run orders in an attempt to meet your demand. Despite this, however, your demand continues to grow at rates beyond what we’ve predicted. In other words, you like us! You really, really like us!
For both Cloudspire and Too Many Bones, we’ve found ourselves paying for expanded print runs, selling out faster than expected and then ordering even bigger print runs, only for those to sell out faster than expected. We’re trying to keep up with you, and you, generous souls that you are, keep on increasing your support just a bit faster than we can predict. That means that our games have been selling out faster than we thought they would. It’s a factor we’re still working to compensate for, but ultimately, having a fanbase as fervent as ours is a very good problem to have.
So, there you have it. That’s why our games seem to frequently be out of stock. However, there’s some good news for many of you hoping to pick up one of our titles. At the time this is published, the base games for Cloudspire and Too Many Bones are available for preorder all around the world. If you keep up demand, we intend to keep bringing all our big box franchises back into stock forever (again, more news about the next iteration of Hoplo is coming soon!). If there’s a missing piece in your collection, much of our stock is available right now, depending on the region – and if it’s not, the chances are good that we’re working on making it available once again.