Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Paintball Sucks!

This is the first post of a new feature, you know, like Rule of the Game or MLP Held Hostage and Mr. Curious or even Another Cynical VFTD Game. This one is called, unsurprisingly, Paintball Sucks! and will offer rants on various and sundry stupid stuff going on in the big, fat world of competitive paintball. Extensive topic, I know.

And just so we're clear I'm gonna provide two rants and explain why one is and the other isn't a Paintball Sucks! rant.

For example, if I were to accuse y'all of being a pack of lazy (good for nothing) slackers either unwilling, unable or just plain a-skeered to anonymously post some skreeling scrawl that might, just might, betray any of your itty bitty thoughts--well, it's too horrifying to contemplate.
Of course, I'm referring to your collective disdain of my suggestion you entertain yourselves last weekend by contributing, ever so slightly, to our happy little blog and in the process quite possibly helping to assist in making VFTD even more to your liking. I realize comments doesn't include a spell check function and you have to type on a keyboard instead of using those nice, pretty colored crayons you prefer and I even understand about feeling all self-conscious but sometimes you just have to buckle down and be a man. Even if you're a girl.
That was NOT a Paintball Sucks! rant for the obvious reason it wasn't about paintball--except tangentially. It was a You Suck! rant because it was about you.
Enough. Wipe that tear from your eye and buck up, Little Soldier, that's what I like to call, tough love. Now carry on.

If you were to read any of the post-event threads on the USPL event at Huntington Beach--but why would any sane person do such a thing?--you would discover a mind-numbing, life-draining inducement to both homicidal and suicidal fantasies. (Or maybe that's just me.) The particular "line of reasoning" I had trouble with was the nearly incessant whining about the lack of vendors present. And the sometimes stated, other times implied, suggestion the USPL should have had more vendors. As if they could snap their fingers and vendors of paintball crap would magically appear. What is it these peeps think is going on? A conspiracy to deprive them of the opportunity to spend money on paintball stuff? Seriously, don't they know the leagues have always depended on sponsor dollars and that in recent years sponsors who do show frequently do so at a loss? And really, who is actually spending money on stuff at tournaments? That's right. Next to nobody. Gawking at some new gat doesn't pay the bills. Spending some down time wandering around the vendors window shopping doesn't pay the bills. Nobody has the cash right now to spend it on what typically amounts to promotion and keeping the brand front and center. Are most players so disconnected and self-absorbed they are this clueless? Apparently.

Meanwhile, the PSP and MS (if they haven't silently backed down) are operating in another league altogether. (Literally and figuratively.) (I know, but sometimes I can't help myself. It's sad and unfortunate for you as there is no one here to edit my excesses.) They've devised a clever policy of protecting a relative handful of sponsoring manufacturers--in the midst of the economic whirlwind--who will promise anything but would sooner confess pedophilia than part with a buck. I know, I know, when things turn around this will turn out to have been a stroke of pure genius. Every player who competes nationally can hardly wait for the chance to pay full retail and incidentally replace the gear they already have oh, at least twice a year. Please, Mr. Manufacturer, take my money. Judas H. Priest!


theone said...

Baca, I've been busy with school and finals but reading this post got me thinking.

I think that the reason that most people who attend national events or at least the most recent USPL and then complain about there not being enough vendor presence is that most of us have grown accustom to having vendors attend and that they should because we want to see what new and exciting things that are on the horizon or are newly available. Unfortunately, as your post states and what should be clear to any non-Neanderthal is that the economy at this moment in time is not what is was 4-5 years ago when you had a new paintball company coming out every 10 seconds whose whole market was a special trigger and nothing else. Now, these smaller companies who only focused on a super-niche market are gone and what are we left with? The large companies, like Dye, SP, DXS, KEE, that control the entire market because they produce the things that we really in fact need (guns, tanks, paint, gear, etc.) So, the smaller companies are gone because they can't continue to make a profit when they're making new things for a small aftermarket field that if they did have the money then and didn't buy, certainly now they won't purchase these items at all. But also now you have the larger companies starting to feel the squeeze because of the economy but also because they defeat their own markets again and again. Coming out with a new marker every year with minimal to no substantial changes just makes no sense, at least to me. I don't know if its something in the psyche of those who play paintball that they've got to have the newest thing every year that makes these companies continue to develop new markers with few changes or if its that these large companies come out with new editions of markers on a consistent basis because others do the same.

Overall, to me it seems like unfortunately a large part of this market WANTS to see new things that take time and money to develop but then when it comes time to buy them there are other things that come first, like paying rent, etc. and for all their clamoring there are relatively few people with the means to enjoy a relatively "luxury" sport.

Sorry for my ramblings but I felt like maybe I could contribute to the discussion.

Reiner Schafer said...

The fact is manufacturers and wholesalers have been hit hard the last few years (already well before the recession started). They are just scraping by and many have already closed shop and I'm sure others are operating in the red.

To spend many thousands of dollars to set up and dispay their wares at a tournament so that a few thousand people can oogle and fondle their stuff and maybe a hundred buy some stuff, is not financialy viable. With a drop in attendance at these events and the realization that the speedball market isn't the only market to concentrate on, spending big moola to come to these events just may not be the wisest business decision.

I think you will still see lots of vendors at World Cup though, but even those numbers will be down. World Cup is where traditionally new products were released but with the Paintball Products Extravaganza for manufacturers to hob nob with field and store owners scheduled for September, there may be some vendors that might reconsider their attendance at World Cup.

raehl said...

The industry is trying to right previous wrongs and protect the margins of brick and mortar retailers. Part of that is not having "trade shows" that are really flea markets traveling around the country selling piles of stuff at prices dealers could never hope to match.

I'm sure players would prefer to not pay retail, but they are retail consumers, and need to adjust to retail pricing.

Hippo said...

I think players who have worked their way on to a team that plays at the USPL / PSP level should NOT have to pay retail anymore. These players have been pumping money into the paintball companies at full retail from that first time they played, to the point where they made the decision to play often enough to get their ability up to the level of a national team. The least these companies could do is offer some perks to these players for being their bread and butter for so long.

Your player ID card should serve as a coupon of sorts at the events. Maybe even tier the pricing...if you are DIII, you get 5% off, DII 10%, etc. Something along those lines. Some form of appreciation.

Baca Loco said...

Thanks, the1. I am convinced that every comment has value--even those of the raehl faction--which is why I harrass y'all as the lazy slackers most of you are.(present company excluded, of course)

Your biases are showing. Most of the gear available and on display adapts to all paintball markets and peeps like BT and Tippmann have routinely attended in the past. Just because it's taking place at a tournament doesn't mean the vendors are exclusively tourney oriented.

raehl faction
I can almost always count on you to miss the point. :-) A) national level players by and large have no need for the essential items of gear and less incentive to buy retail on site when they can get the same later for less. B) The timing of making this move couldn't have been more ill-conceived as it pertains to the league's survival if it had been forced on the league by antipathetic outsiders.

Realistically nobody has to pay retail. Past (and some current) practices of these same companies sees to that.

raehl said...

Once again your reading comprehension has failed you Baca. I did not say "national level players". Other than subsidizing the tournament operations, there is nothing about the trade shows that is particular to tournament players. Many other people come to the events, especially events like World Cup. Every item somebody buys at a trade show is an item that is not bought at a retailer. It only adds insult to injury when those items are sold significantly below what the retailers sell them at.

There is no better time to make this change - the retailers are sick of the manufacturer's crapping on them, and it seems the manufacturer's have gotten the message and decided they will NOT run around the country hosting deep-discount retailer-undermining flea markets anymore.

Hippo: Why shouldn't they have to pay retail? Tournament players need to get rid of whatever it is in their heads that makes them think they're special. Playing on a speedball field or even a national-tournament speedball field doesn't make you any different than all the other customers who play in the woods. There is a price for the equipment, and you can pay it, or not, the retailer and manufacturer don't get any special benefit from selling their product to you over someone else.

anonachris said...

Bbbbut bbbutt... I paid my dues.... waaaaahhh... Not only should the manufacturers subsidize my desire to play big fancy events, they should undercut the foundation of the industry (dealers) at the same time and give everyone a special deal.

Anonymous said...

here's my thing, tournament players need to (imo) learn to stick to a marker. everybody has become so trade and sell happy that they would rather buy "mint condition used" instead of buy new from retail. i think that sponorship contracts and details need to be more stringent/tighter so that the players who are getting breaks and abusing the system are actually penalized outside of being slapped on the hand and cut from the team (possibly).

kids like that are making it extremely hard for players, such as myself (college student, nearest field is two hours away, etc...) who really need and enjoy the cuts we get in order to keep playing.

Reiner Schafer said...

Baca Loco said:

Your biases are showing. Most of the gear available and on display adapts to all paintball markets and peeps like BT and Tippmann have routinely attended in the past. Just because it's taking place at a tournament doesn't mean the vendors are exclusively tourney"

Absolutely true. Since World Cup has traditionally been the venue for releasing new products that's where all paintball manufacturers have gone to do so. There was no other choice. Since in the past many of paintball's field and store owners have also been tournament players, the group [at World Cup] was one and the same. Show off your new stuff to the public and the field and store oweners all at the same time.

But with the Paintball Products Extravaganza available for manufacturers to show off their new wares to field and store owners (who are the ones that end up promoting and selling the products for the manufacturers) in a much quieter and relaxed atmosphere, some manufactueres may choose that venue over world cup. I'm sure that most big name manufactuirers will still have a booth at World Cup, but from a business point of view, some may opt to release their products at the PPE instead and let the gossip on the internet and the dealers take care of the rest. Let's face it, World Cup gets what, 30,000 visitors. That's a drop in the bucket of the total number of players in the world. When releasing new products, it's not 30,000 people you want to reach, it's everyone. In the end, you need the media and hte field and store owners to get the word out and push your products.

Don Saavedra said...

And how many attend the PPE compared to World Cup?

Reiner Schafer said...

Very few. That's the point. It's only for field and store owners and paintball media. It designed to let industry people talk business in a much more relaxed atmosphere.

The paintball industry is maturing. Manufacturers and wholesalers are finally coming to the realization that they need to work together with fields and stores, rather than work against them. Fields and stores (especially brick & mortar stores) are the frontline for the industry. Without fields and stores, there would be no paintball industry. These are the people who sell paintball at the local level, where it all starts.

If a manufacturer had to choose whether to go to the PPE or to various tournaments, they would need to decide wheere their money was best spent. If they can afford to go to all, fine, but if not, a decision needs to be reached. Time will tell which venue gets chosen by most. If I were a manufacturer/wholesaler, I would really find it difficult to not choose the PPE.

Baca Loco said...

Two new guns were released at HB. My point is you're (seemingly) making an either/or out of a situation that often requires both avenues. In a time of tight inventories and mostly modest stocking the local store puts its money into what it knows (or believes) it can sell--not necessarily what's new and unproven or even demonstrably better. A small or new PB manufacturer's first job is to create a market and Extravaganza isn't going to do that.

Baca Loco said...

raehl faction
If you weren't so unintentionally entertaining I would despair.
Let me explain how this system works. I post a piece. That piece establishes the baseline for follow-up comments so when you blithely ignore the original source material none of the rest of us are obligated to argue your preferred argument.
You didn't set the baseline at national level players--I did.
Where do the majority of these trade shows happen?
And if "lots" of other peeps were coming to these trade shows and spending money we wouldn't, in all likelihood, be having this conversation.
And, of course, the larger point is that tweaking the sponsor model is an insufficient fix--for both the league(s) and the manufacturers.

anonachris said...

"You didn't set the baseline at national level players--I did."

Well I'm not who you addressed but that -is- rather convenient. When you dictate the terms of the discussion you all but control the outcome anyway in most cases. So what's the point there?

The point that there are other factors, notwithstanding your pontificating on national players, is crucial.

What sales data do you have for your baseline? For some products you're spot on, for others it's a lot closer to 50/50 than you think.

How many stores do you talk to in the region of the event? What happens to their sales proceeding, during, and directly after event?

All that said the PSP's rule is very very problematic. They could have implemented it in a much better way.

raehl said...

I see... so if you set a ridiculous baseline, we're stuck with it? That's not the way the comments work. Just because you post the blog doesn't mean we're obligated to accept your assumptions.

It's a trade show where stuff is sold. Whether the stuff is sold to tournament participants or spectators or just people looking for a deal is not relevant to the store owners in the area losing sales.

And it is perfectly possible for both the store owners to lose sales AND for the trade show participants to not make any money, just because it is so expensive to move a truck to an event.

As far as gun launches, there may have been two gun launches at HB, but it's worth noting both who launched them and when HB is relative to when extravaganza was/will be.

mick said...

...and let's be sure to credit Sire Paintball Clothing (RIP) with the very first "Paintball Sucks" T-Shirt. My daughter still wears hers.

Baca Loco said...

Thanks for the unintentional demonstration of precisely what I'm talking about. My point to the reahl faction was simple--if commenters fail to or refuse to address the original source material, ie; my post, the end result will inevitably be everyone talking past each other. Which is what your comment demonstrates as you followed on the raehl faction's assertions. Raehl faction didn't wish to interact with the original post's position, he wished to make positive claims on behalf of the ill-conceived PSP sponsor protection plan and he did that because it is his self-assigned job to flack the PSP. As a result neither one of you actually addressed the original post in either agreement or disagreement.
By all means, take a topic where you wish to go but do so in a way that one step follows the last so there is some coherence to the process.
I'm not trying to manipulate the outcome, simply setting the stage, but any sensible discourse occurs within some framework and the framework here is the original post.

raehl faction
Characterize it however you wish you still haven't addressed it--which, as usual, is par for the course.

Okay, in order to protect local stores and fields the PSP has suddenly decided to only allow manufacturers to sponsor events. But since trade shows are where stuff, ie; paintball gear, is sold how does this change protect local stores and fields? Stuff is still being sold, the sales of which might very reasonably have otherwise gone to a local. So the objection, no matter how you dress it up, isn't to cutting business out from under the locals--it's who is doing the cutting.

raehl said...

Actually, at a true trade show, retail sales are prohibited entirely. The manufacturer/distributor is there to meet with dealers and get dealers to place orders which are delivered to the dealers at a later date for resale. Extravaganza is, in the traditional definition, a trade show.

Paintball tournaments offer something that is in many ways like a trade show - the manufacturer is there with their product line which they can show to dealers - and this has historically worked pretty well because dealers were often tournament players, so they could go to events and kill two birds with one stone (just like other industries where dealers might go to the trade show and also get some golfing in.)

But there are also hundreds to thousands of potential consumers at these events, so the manufacturers also sell stuff direct, for them, killing two birds with one stone.

Of course, the dealers hate this. But there are degrees - dealers will hate it a lot more when product is being sold at a tremendous discount over the pricing the dealer can sell for. Dealers probably still don't like sales at tournaments at all, but it's not nearly as big of a deal when the sales are at least retail to MSRP priced.

Restricting the show to manufacturer-appointed reps allows the manufacturers to choose and enforce how their product is sold. At least then, if Product X from Manufacturer Y shows up at a trade show for prize Z, the consequences of that are a direct result of what the manufacturer chose to do. If manufacturers do not want their product sold at tournaments at all, PSP's rule allows them that choice. If they want to sell at retail, PSP's rule allows them that choice. And if they want to unload their stock at 50% below dealer price, they can do that too - with their OWN product, and they can pay the price with their dealers, because the dealers will know who to blame.

And I don't see where this isn't relevant to your original post - you asserted that the PSP's policy just protects a small handful of manufacturers. As it turns out, that's a pile of crap - the policy doesn't protect a handful of manufacturers; it protects ALL the dealers.

So, does the change COMPLETELY protect the dealers? No. Is it an incredibly drastic improvement? Absolutely.

You can spend all day complaining that people just are not staying within the framework of your post - and I suppose you're right, as it doesn't make sense to work in a framework that does not reflect reality - but the issue isn't the comments, the issue is that the framework you set up was bunk.

Reiner Schafer said...

Baca, I've got a agree a bit with others. I don't think I've ever been in any kind of length conversation/discussion that didn't at least somewhat stray from the original topic. To expect everyone to do so, is a bit dictator-like. Blogs aren't government enquiries. They are a venue to express ideas and stimulate conversation.

You try very hard to get people to take part and express opinions on your blog and maybe part of the game is to create contraversy as contraversy is anything but boring, so it creates traffic. But ease up dude.

How's that for not having anything to do with the original topic?

Baca Loco said...

Resistance is futile.

Have I ever deleted any comment? Or insisted anybody comment a particular way? No and no. Or even moderated comments? No.
I'm trying to help. I've simply suggested a form of argumentation that would facilitate precise positions and find it incredibly funny to watch raehl faction twitch and squirm in the process as he resists with the highly logical counter, "But that's stupid."

What I want to know: Am I better or worse than Hitler?

raehl said...

I'm still impressed that I got a whole faction.

Regardless, I'm pretty sure the pile of text I seem to throw at you is a bit more involved than simply "That's stupid". "That's stupid" isn't the argument, it's the conclusion.

"Meanwhile, the PSP and MS (if they haven't silently backed down) are operating in another league altogether. They've devised a clever policy of protecting a relative handful of sponsoring manufacturers--in the midst of the economic whirlwind--who will promise anything but would sooner confess pedophilia than part with a buck."

Maybe the problem is you're just confused? You seem to be suggesting that PSP and Millennium have the same policy - which they don't. PSP will only allow manufacturer-designated reps sell product at events. Millennium won't let you use guns on their TV show if you're not a league sponsor. In Millenium's case, the LAST thing that policy is designed to do is protect manufacturers - it's to prevent gun companies from getting promoted on the TV show without supporting the TV show. (Not to say that's a wise policy, as you might guess given I've never implemented it.) And PSP's policy doesn't protect "a handful" of manufacturers - it protects all of them from price discounters, and more importantly, it protects the dealers from the trade show. Not completely, but much better than previously.

So what's not logical about that? You made an assertion, and I provided a bunch of reasons why your assertion was just plain off.

One of the biggest problems with the paintball market over the past few years has been the treatment of tournament players. It was good for them while it lasted, but nobody can make any money when all the gear is moving at cost (discounted team "sponsorships") or free (Prizes to eBay and PbN B/S/T)

Reiner Schafer said...

"What I want to know: Am I better or worse than Hitler?" Haha. I'm not a historian and I don't know you well enough, so I'm not quite ready to make that decision yet.

"One of the biggest problems with the paintball market over the past few years has been the treatment of tournament players. It was good for them while it lasted, but nobody can make any money when all the gear is moving at cost (discounted team "sponsorships") or free (Prizes to eBay and PbN B/S/T)"

That's definitely one of the most often heard complaints from paintball retailers.

I'm manufacturers often sell their wares at venues like World Cup below Minimum Advertised Price? I realize that "advertised" price is not the same as "Selling" price, but if I were a paintball store owner and the manufacturer was in fact selling below MAP, I would be a little p'd off.

raehl said...

Now? No. In the past? Yes. The manufacturers wised up and brought their pricing in line with retail. Of course, when they raised their prices, they made room for a couple deep discounters to step in and repeat the problem. The new policy remedies that situation.

Anonymous said...

But why did you let them in in the first place??