Friday, July 20, 2012

Gateway to What?

KEE is about to launch JT SplatMaster. They began some early info releases a few days ago. The new SplatMasters are plastic spring-loaded 50 cal markers. The target market looks to be the pre-teen crowd from 9 years old and up. The result is low impact, low velocity, reduced range quasi-paintball fun--although it appears JT is intentionally avoiding a direct association with paintball. Whatever. Meanwhile, the paintball crowd is jumping on the gateway to paintball notion. Paintball Lite for kids with cheap guns are the perfect introduction to "real" paintball later on. Well, maybe. Frankly I don't see why it couldn't as easily be a gateway to Airsoft. More realistic SplatMaster without any mess. I'm not really interested in that aspect anyway and I doubt KEE are either. JT SplatMaster will need to be profitable independent of whatever other follow on effects it may or may not have. And given the target market it will need to be economical. So what I really want to know is how much paint is going to cost.

It's the 50 cal part I'm interested in. Small Ball was a failure the first time despite the industry paint giants preparing to produce small balls. And despite some of the gun makers producing marker lines to shoot the 50 cal paintball. There was early and widespread resistance from the paintball community at large and a small group of home testers who demonstrated the performance drawbacks of the small ball compared to the standard 68 (despite the initial hyperbolic rhetoric.) The original brouhaha was followed with a quiet effort to promote small ball to large rental operations as a friendlier paintball option for birthday parties and group play, etc. Part of that promotion was the less intense less potentially painful first impression paintball experience available with 50 cal. It has seemingly failed to catch on.
Another part of the early promotion of small ball claimed it would be cheaper--a claim that gained the attention and support of a minority--at least briefly--but didn't pan out as advertised. (There was, as I recall, a modest price difference per case but it wasn't sufficiently cheaper that it encouraged players to transition to the small ball or take up small ball directly.) And now 50 cal is back.
I can't help wondering if part of the SplatMaster plan is to reintroduce small ball in a benign way, a positive way even, a way that doesn't trouble anyone currently and actively involved in the game today. Which is why I'm curious to know how much replacement paint is going to cost. Paintball prices are largely a product of the economies of scale--particularly domestic production with its rising materiel costs--so how many small balls is KEE gonna produce to support the JT SplatMaster? And how much can they reasonably charge for replacement paint for a game aimed at 10 year olds?
The resistance to small ball was all about lost performance but if you create a generation(s) with vastly lowered expectations maybe the ultimate limitations of small ball don't look so bad after all. It would be a long view strategy but from a business perspective it has a lot of upside.


Reiner Schafer said...

One thing you need to keep in mind is that the JT Splatmaster are spring action pump guns. I don't imagine a bunch of 9 year olds chasing each other are going to need nearly as many paintball as the average paintball player uses at his local field today. 100 paintball each might be enough to have an afternoon of fun. They certainly aren't going to need a case of 2,000 paintballs each.

I’m more concerned with burning out the paintball candle in kids before they get the chance to try real paintball. Will having kids play “paintball” at 8 or 9 mean we end up with even less mature paintball players?

Baca Loco said...

The amount of paintballs the kids use isn't the issue.

I don't believe in the short life cycle of paintball theory for recreational paintball.

Reiner Schafer said...

You wanted to know how much the paint is going to cost (why you want to know I'm not sure). The amount of paint that these consumers will buy/need/want will have an affect on the price of 50 cal. overall. How big of an affect has yet to be determined. Personally i don't think that the kids playing with these things are going to hugely increase the amount of .50 call needing to be produced (although it will have some bearing). As far as the kids go that will be using these things, whether the cost is $1.00/100 or $2.00/100 or even $3/100 isn't going to greatly affect them, because they aren't thinking in terms of $50/5,000 vs. $150/5,000. CPX for instance is running groups with these with all paintball included, because the amounts the kids are shooting is so low.

You don't believe in the short life cycle of recreational players for occasional recreational players or avid recreational players (or any recreational players)? I can tell you from experience that there is definitely a life cycle for many/most recreational players, and that life cycle in terms of time, gets shorter, the more avid a player is (recreational players burn out as well). I'm generalizing of course, there are exceptions as we all know. But I don't know if playing with these new toys is going to have an affect on that life cycle or if these are different enough from real paintball, that it won't be an issue.

Baca Loco said...

I'm curious to find out how much replacement paint is going to cost because I'm wondering if part of the idea isn't to reintroduce small ball into paintball. I thought I said that already. :) At a guess I'll say jugs of 200 rounds will cost around $10. The current claim is that the shell is the top of the line Evil shell which more or less maximizes per unit cost. What percentage of small balls will KEE produce to support JT SplatMaster compared to their normal production?

Anonymous said...

First, KEE gives players field passes to fields. Then, releases backyard paintball kits with no word provided to field owners.

And they sell these direct to customers. Sure, it's a win for KEE, but the paintball industry requires functional fields to promote play. Not 'cheaper' not 'less painful'. When these executives get this through their head, I don't know.

Reiner Schafer said...

Anon, KEE is in the product sales business, not the field promotion business. They couldn't give two hoots how, where, or why people are buying their products, as long as their bottom line is growing. The backyard paintball market is huge. Expanding it to include a younger demographic, makes it that much bigger.

Anonymous said...

I bet the 1st anon dude voted for Obama. And probably will again.

Learn to make your own way and stop expecting others to do it for you.

Anonymous said...

Story breaking that the Colorado shooter had some association with paintball. Interested in your comments Baca. I see dark skies ahead

Anonymous said...

DERDER Soldiers of Misfortune poster on his wall... why that's as incriminating as the fact that he ordered ammo in bulk online in "in the last 60 days". Hopefully we can all see these smear tactics by the police and press and call them what they are - perfectly legal actions that tens of thousands do.

Its outrageous the focus is on him buying ammo and guns and everyone looks the other way at the fact that the crime was killing people. If you want to blame online ammo sales or derder DVDs you'd probably be better off blaming Batman movies... and reveal the depth of your stupidity in the process.

Nick Brockdorff said...

I'm wondering... you think it should be a "right" to purchase and own assault weapons?

I mean, I totally get why people have guns for hunting, I enjoy hunting myself.

But, why on earth would a society want random citizens to own AR-15s and Glocks?

To my mind, any civilized society should limit personal gun ownership, so that automatic and semiautomatic weapons were reserved for armed forces and law enforcement.

Anything else is asking for trouble.

Anonymous said...

An AR-15 looks scary, but it's a lot less powerful than plenty of hunting rifles.

So it seems like what you're saying is to be civilized we should ban high capacity magazines? (so he just has to carry more extras tapped together?)

No, let's face it, the key to a good and honorable society starts with individuals and families respecting one another, loving one another, and honoring the rule of law.

It does not start with passing laws that pretend to prevent something while merely restricting freedom.

The USA, unfortunately for those who share your viewpoint, has enshrined in its constitution that the people's right to bear arms is actually -necessary- for security and freedom.

Personally, I think hunting for sport is quite abominable, but I won't deny anyone else that right. I understand its purposes for the wise management of animal populations as well as food production, and I think it's good in that respect, but just because I abhor the thought of killing an animal for the mere sport of it, doesn't mean I want to ban it.

The ultimate difference from me and you on gun issues would appear to be that I trust my neighbors as well as those who I don't know with my life. Those who lack trust in others seek to regulate them into good behavior.

By the way, as a plethora of incidents have proven, the military or police can be just as reckless and violent, if not more so, with their firearms.

More to the point, the questions and the logic you are using and applying to certain segments of gun owners can just as easily if not MORE SO apply to the sport of paintball by "any civilized society".

Anonymous said...

Anyone else have a strange feeling we may see the Werewolves show up at World Cup?

Anonymous said...

Strangely enough this is all biblical in nature:

More laws and rules do not make you happier or safer. In fact they do just the opposite - they make you slaves to those who create the laws.

Anonymous said...

To Pro AR15 Anon-

You're saying I should be allowed an AR15 to protect myself from others with AR15's but that I should be more trusting of my neighbor?

To be honest I think it's dumb you come in here on a tirade while trying to reinforce your own ideas. The internet is full of people like you right now. I just want to hear Baca's opinions and eat my freedom fries.

Baca Loco said...

Did not expect this thread's comments to end up here but that's okay. We have a little time before the nefarious forces behind Big Paintball try to ram small ball down our collective throats--again.

Paintball and the Aurora shooting. I think it's a small vauguely sinister detail thrown into the coverage by an element of agenda media 'cus they don't really understand--men in masks!--and in the long term nobody will make a paintball/lunatic killer association. (Tho I doubt he's a lunatic killer in fact. I suspect he's as sane as the next guy even if they make him out to be nuts--assuming they can't paint him as some sorta homegrown terrorist.)

Re: guns. Don't like 'em personally. Never owned one, don't want one but am seriously considering reluctant responsible gun ownership. Pro second amendment. There are literally thousands of gun laws on the books. More than can be (or are) enforced in fact.
"Assault weapons" language is largely meaningless and relies on an ignorant public to engender an emotional response from people.
That said it would be nice if the streets weren't full of dangerous and illegal guns but denying half my relatives and Joe Rotary Club the right to responsibly own and collect guns won't change anything. Although if our government didn't sell guns to drug cartels it might be a good start.

And for the we-must-stop-the-killing crowd who insist on advocating gun bans for the greater good I would direct you to the scraps of information available on officer-involved shootings. Nobody, including the FBI keep national stats--though the FBI keeps stats on "justifiable homicides" (an average nationwide of 400 a year the last two years) and almost everything else. It is possible to track down some of the data. For example in the greater Houston area in 2010 & 2011 Houston police and county sheriffs shot 94 people killing 32 of them. The circumstances makes for some interesting reading.

Finally I will agree with the Anon who suggested the real root of the problem is with the kind of people we have become. Nihilism is the flavor of the day in the post-civiliation West and it's small wonder that when you teach your children the world is meaningless and random and corrupt that some believe it and act on it. The real wonder is that more haven't.

Anonymous said...

I trust you to make a decision for yourself and I believe in gun ownership to protect my family and property as well as that of my neighbors. If I'm ever carrying while a psycho starts shooting you can thank me later for being willing to step into the fray and protect others rather than hiding and hoping someone else rises to the occasion. Some of us feel an obligation to protect and defend ourselves and especially others. If you don't, that's fine. But do t assume we should all be equally helpless so you can feel safer with your head in the sand.

Anonymous said...

And to all the ITGs who claim they would have taken this guy out with a head-shot using their trust 1911 .45... Epic face palm.

Confusing situation and room filled with people in terror of their lives and you are gonna line up that perfect shot with a sidearm (which you probably loaded with hollow points for maximum stopping power). Right.

On the other hand let's assume a psycho looking do maximum damage had no access to an "assault weapon". Derp, he just chains the exit doors with a bike lock and proceeds to dump poison gas or burn the place down with everyone trapped inside.

The guy had months to plan this, so not sure if the guy can be considered "insane". The story we have so far is starting to stink bad.

Reiner Schafer said...

"The guy had months to plan this, so not sure if the guy can be considered "insane"."

People can be insane for more than a few months, can't they? Most insane people are. This guy was definitely not "normal". Hopefully they will NOT find him insane and release him into general population in prison.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather the guy stay alive so that he can be diagnosed and questioned for as long as possible.

While it is natural to want revenge, I think there is more value in having this guy go through extensive study to determine what is going on upstairs.

Latest news was he was popping vicodin prior to the rampage. He received a grant for his PhD in neuroscience studies so obviously he had enough stability in the past few years to earn a Masters (unless he was doing one of those dual Masters/PhD progs - unlikely).

Missy Q said...

I think you're missing something on the Splatmaster deal. My intel suggests that these splatmasters do not require C02 powerlets like the old ones, and that with the smaller paintball they are able to use the energy from the spring to whack the ball, airsoft style, at the opponent. This is why it's a shoe-in for the mass-market. The mass-market stores prefer airsoft because they don't want to fill tanks or be responsible for decanting high-pressure gasses or the training involved to have their staff perform these actions. For me, that is the step forward, and if it works, it will definitely be more accessible. The fact that they are not calling it 'paintball' is deliberate. They want separation. I am reserving judgement as at the very least this idea does show some promise.

As for all the gun-nuts. Seems to me the problem is the people, not the guns. If you took all the guns away there would still be plenty of fucked-up yanks who desperately want to get famous the easy way. Get rid of guns and it won't make a difference. If they refused to show this shit on TV and didn't do an in-depth expose on the gunman, they might have more preventative success.

Baca Loco said...

I didn't miss any of that. :) I even referenced the likelihood SplatMaster might function as a "gateway" to Airsoft as to paintball. My interest is the reintro of small ball but I see I am alone.

Anonymous said...

Terrible timing on this reintro.

Teaching kids to shoot at each other is not going to fly well right now.

Missy Q said...

The small ball is relevant only in that it can actually be fired without gas and acheive something resembling a viable velocity. They basically found a way to use it that might actually pan out, provided they can get the paint to break on impact and not in the gun.

For me the interest is that they don't use the word paintball. I gather they want to introduce this to mass market as something that's 'not paintball', and I don't know if thats a good thing or not.

Anonymous said...

Anony who palms his face epically,
Being a paintball player, you'd think that it wouldn't be too surprising to assuming that if someone is shooting at you, you have to take cover (thus saving lives and buying others time).

Since the guy didn't go out in a blaze of glory with the cops, you could even further assume that he didn't want to die and if was confronted might very well have fled.

Anonymous said...

Watch the video of this guy in court:

Considering he's been in lock-up since friday, he sure looks drugged.

Reiner Schafer said...

KEE/JT's disassociation with paintball is interesting. In their eyes, dose paintball have a bad rep, that they would want to separate themselves from it? I mean, it is obviously paintball. Slower, smaller, lighter balls, but they are still paintballs.

From a business standpoint, I'm actually mildly interested in the technology. But they are going to have to come up with something a little better than what looks like something you would buy at your local Dollar Store. I assume that should this take off at all, that won't be too far behind.

I know field owners that have been using 50 cal at lower velocities for their younger groups actually like it, despite all the previous naysayers. So in my opinion, 50 cal has a legitimate place in the market place, it's just a different market, not the tourney or serious rec ball market.

Paintball lite, with actual marking capabilities will be a little more serious competition for airsoft than regualr paintball technology. With the capability of carrying larger volumes in the marker and similar volumes taking up less space, and no air source needed, guns more similar to what we see in airsoft will be possible. As much as many "paintballer" may not like those markers, there is still a huge demand for it within the general population.

Missy Q said...

Reiner, the plan, as I understand it, is not to do anything else other than this cheap splatmaster entry - ie. no upgrades, nothing fancier than a splatmaster. At the point people buy that and enjoy it, the theory is that they will jump into regular paintball, and that this Splatmaster game is indeed supposed to be a gateway into 68cal reg-ball.
Whether or not people will make that step, a different step, or no step at all is open for discussion.
Too early to tell if this is a good thing or not and at present I would prefer that KEE concentrate in 'having their product in stock' rather than focusing efforts elsewhere. That said, I applaud the fact that they are making efforts to stimulate grass-roots play.

Reiner Schafer said...

Missy Q, if that's the plan, me thinks they should revise it. There is a big market for low impact paintball at rental fields. This is still paintball and I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want a bunch of 9 and 10 year olds running around in my backyard shooting paint and anything and everything they see. Paintball stains can devalue a house very quickly. Paint, if not washed off immediately will also take the finish off cars. Not everyone is going to have an acre of woods or field in their backyard. If people think they can play with these in their backyards in an urban setting, Splatmasters are going to get a bad reputation real quick and that reputation won't help what we now know as paintball with the general public.

So although I agree that there is a big market to just flog these at the big box stores, there is also a big market to utilize the technology and run organized groups in a facility designed for the activity. But lets face it, running rental groups with markers that don't look like they will hold up as well as a Super-soaker just isn't going to cut it.

Anonymous said...

Reiner nailed it.

Mark said...

Guns don't kill paintball. Paintball Industry kills paintball!!!! :D

Nick Brockdorff said...

Obviously field owners would be against the Splatmaster.

Just like car dealers will react, if Ford starts selling cheap cars directly to consumers.

I understand it is thought up as a "gateway" to real paintball.... but one has to wonder what the incentive to go to a real field is, if you can just run around doing it in your neighbourhood, at way lower cost?

How many field owners will actually turn away from Kee and choose another supplier, as a reaction to their supplier actively competing with them?