Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Humming along

I made a post a few days ago about whether or not paintball would ever be mainstream. The idea of the post came after Kris (aka Mr. Canada, the founder of Canadian Scenario Paintball) had an editorial posted over at 68Caliber. You can find it here: http://68caliber.com/?p=15913#comments.

Anyway, Kris and I had a conversation going, along with a few other valued comment inputs (hey, all comments are valuable), but two of the comments were deleted by the owner of the site (it's his site so he can do as he wishes). Anyway, I've had a request from someone wanting to know what was posted. I do not have access to Kris' deleted comments and am not even sure which of his were deleted. The last one may have been one that I did not see and maybe it was getting a bit heated (although up to this point, Kris' comments seemed to be quite polite).

Anyway, I am going to post my two comments which were deleted here. Nothing earth shattering here, but I didn't want to disappoint all my fan(s) :)

Well Kris, obviously my own business model is going to be similar to what I promote and endorse, otherwise I would be a hypocrite.
You stated, “I am proposing this discussion because woodsabll field operators who are following this outdated business model are LOSING BUSINESS. They are losing their business to two areas: outlaw paintball, and lower margin speedball.”
First off, you are making an assumption. I guess in part, depending on how you define your statement, you may be right. The higher paintball price/lower volume model does lose some business to lower margin speedball and outlaw paintball. But guess what? We want to lose that business. As a matter of fact, I regularly recommend to some players at my field that they might be better off trying speedball or going to a place where paintballs are cheaper, so they can play with more people that like that style of play. But overall, I am more than a little convinced that the lower paintball volume (higher priced paintball) model is much more popular to a much wider and larger demographic. This is much more similar to the demographic that enjoys golf, vacation resorts and ski resorts than the demographic that prefers the much more intense high volume woodsball. For you to suggest that your much more intense, full auto, high volume version of paintball would be more attractive to this group is absolutely ludicrous. But these are the people that make up the majority of our population, but for some reason many paintball fields in North America, seem to ignore this demographic, instead going only for the “extreme sports” demographic. I guess this is why in Canada, where many more fields follow the higher paintball price/lower volume model, paintball has been much more stable.
I do believe the industry could do much better and could attract many more players and therefore become more mainstream. I believe we are not, due to two main reasons. First is that we still don’t protect our new players enough. I think we have become more conscious of the fact that we need to do this, but I think many fields haven’t totally figured out how to do this. The second, less widely accepted reason, is that we don’t provide a tame enough environment for those payers that do want to go past being a newbie. We (and when I say “we” I’m using the term as a generalization for the industry as a whole) make the assumption that when a player has decided to get more serious about paintball and buy his/her own gear, that they then automatically want to play a much more extreme version of the game. I don’t think that’s the case. Sure there are some that want to go hog wild and start playing paintball where the average player is shooting about a case, but I believe there are many, many more people that would pick up the game as a regular activity, if they could just go out regularly and play some leisurely paintball. That’s why we have at our field have many, many more regular players that will play and pay $35/500 paintballs than the speedball field that will sell them close to a case for the same price. Or they could play with the outlaw crowd and buy their paint cheap at the local paintball store and pay no field fees. But we have relatively very little outlaw play in our area because…players have a much less intense, much more enjoyable venue they can play at. You are right. People aren’t stupid. They have the ability to figure out which is better value for them.

The second:
TNT Paintball, Victoria, BC. I believe you have played there.

Kris said “Perhaps you have an awesome value proposition that I dont quite understand; players being happier with higher prices just doesn’t make sense to me, but hey if I am wrong, mea culpa”

You see Kris, this is where the fundamental flaw in your thinking lies, in my opinion. It has been well documented over the history of our game that when paintball prices have dropped, the average player doesn’t pay less for a day of paintball, but instead shoots more paintballs and pays about the same at the end of the day. Therefore, the cost doesn’t change rather the game does. Over the years it’s gone from “plinking” a few dozen balls over the course of the day to players shooting several thousands of balls in the same time period. I’m not saying “plinking” a few dozen balls is the way to go, but I certainly don’t advocate shooting thousands and thousands of paintball per player either, for hte average guy that wants to play the game.

We don’t look at our business as being in the business of selling paintballs. We sell an entertainment activity, or fun. However, that activity changes with the volume of paintball in the air and the volume of paintball in the air is directly influenced by the price of that commodity. The volume of paintballs in the air directly affects the interaction between the participants.

I have no problem with high volume paintball…if it’s played by people all with the same mindset and all prepared for that environment. It is just very clear to me, as clear as the nose on my face, that a much larger part of the population prefers to play in a less intense, lower volume environment. That’s why I have a big problem with you saying that promoting automatic markers and selling paintball just above cost will help make paintball more mainstream. I believe exactly the opposite will happen (and actually is and has been happening in most of North America).

I do wholeheartedly agree with you that paintball would benefit further with fields having better amenities. Hopefully fields such as CPX in Illinois will become much more common.

As far as asking my customers if they would prefer to play less for paintballs…I am very sure just about every single one of them would say yes, they would prefer to pay less. You see, just like you, most would not make the connection between the price of paintballs and the amount of fun they might have. A better question would be, “If you could pay the same price for your paintball outing, would you prefer to play with 3 or 4 times as many paintballs, knowing that all your opponents would also have 3 or 4 times as many paintballs and that the environment on the field would be much more intense?” Many would still not completely clue in, but at least they would realize that their outing would be considerably different from what they have now. At the end of the day, a field’s customers return over and over again, and a field’s business grows, because they had a good time, not because they paid more or less for paintballs. People come to a paintball field to have fun, not to purchase little goo filled gelatin spheres.

Like I said, nothing earth shattering here and some of it may not make total sense, not seeing and knowing what I was replying to.

1 comment:

  1. Reiner,

    I deleted those two comments for one reason only: the tenor of the conversation was turning personal. In point of fact, I only deleted yours because it was a response to something Kris had written and your response made no sense without his original post.
    Perhaps I was being reactionary - but I don't think so.
    Kris was, in my opinion, directing his argument only at your field operation - straying from generalities to the 'pointedly specific'.
    I don't need people attacking businesses on the site, so I removed the comments.
    I only remove comments for two reasons: 1. outright spam and 2. personal attacks/attacks against a business. I also frequently 'bleep' out curse words.
    Other than that, everything goes straight through. I try to exercise as little control as possible over the comments in order to encourage them.
    My level of sensitivity may not be the same as anyone else's - but I absolutely was not trying to 'censor' what had become a pretty good conversation.