Living in a Third World country isn’t easy for a gamer. Availability for most non-electronic games is iffy at best, though there are some recent changes to the local scene.
One of the most significant shifts in the hobby market is the influx of more sophisticated board games aside from Monopoly or Scrabble. A local retailer called Hobbes & Landes has been pretty good in bringing in several games from Reiner Kniza, or even some of the new stuff from Fantasy Flight Games. I’m catching a sense that this is going to be one of those long term trends. The Philippines is in the midst of an economic shift, as the market is becoming dominated by people who work in Call Centers. They represent a faction of Filipinos who are often young, have a large amount of disposable income vs. their average expenditures, and don’t have a lot of time to socialize given their work hours. Given their situation they tend to go pretty all out on the weekends… and board games may very well have become a valid purchase for those who want to make the most of their time with friends and family.
Sadly, Tabletop RPGs have not quite managed to take advantage of this upswing. The local distributor for White Wolf Games has not brought in anything since the “Devil Made Me Do It” Sale when Demon: the Fallen was released. I spotted a copy of Exalted 1st edition a few years back, but none of the supplements. Everytime I brought up the topic to the store owners, all I got was a non-committal reply. I’m thinking about writing White Wolf about it to ask about it since Exalted seems pretty popular here. There have been other stores that bring in rpgs, but their availability has been questionable, and some retailers only buy them on special order, at exorbitant rates.
Just to serve as an example, White Wolf’s Scion costs $34.99 on the company online store, that amounts to about P1,645 when converted to Philippine Pesos. Let’s go ahead and slap on an extra P700 ($14.84) for shipping for a total of P2,345 ($49.85). To cover for their costs, the retailers then sell the resulting book for P2,700 ($57.44)
Needless to say, PDF purchases are looking more and more feasible, but that’s a topic for a different entry.
CCGs enjoy a lot of popularity here in the Philippines, as it falls squarely into the budgets of a lot of students. Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon and whatever other CCG is popular at the moment is essentially a cash cow for it’s local distributor. Tournaments and other events are heavily funded, and the communities are pretty active.
Tabletop Miniatures games are pretty much an elite thing going here. Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Warhammer 40K and even Warmachine / Iron Kingdoms has a small core of gamers who are pretty hardcore about whichever game they play. They’re more or less exclusive to gamers of the higher economic strata, primarily due to the amount of money you’d need to have to buy the minis, much less to paint them.
Of all the games available for Filipinos, computer games are still one of the most popular if only because even the poorest of Filipinos can plunk down anything from P20 for an hour of playing MMORPGs or button-mashing in a Playstation Rental store.
Needless to say, most Filipinos manage to get their hands on a lot of hobbies. Electronic gaming still outstrips all the others in terms of sheer numbers, but there are some interesting trends for board games at the moment. I’m eagerly awaiting any further developments in the market trends, and I’ll probably update this blog as soon as stuff starts happening.