The second edition of the popular Pandemic board game is now so popular that it will be available through mass market distributors on February 6. But the board game seems to be spreading faster than anticipated, to the consternation of small hobby stores everywhere; it's available in Target stores today.
In Pandemic, four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together, playing to their characters' strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks.
A quick check of Target's web site indicates that the game is out of print online but available in several stores through Connecticut and New York. Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University, expressed his concern about the early release in his weekly Roll for Initiative column:
BTW, I would be remiss if I failed to mention last week's release of Pandemic 2nd Edition by either Z-Man Games or their mass market distributor to the Target chain a week before the official release date, (according to Alliance Distribution's Website), of February 6th. Given that the game has been out of stock since the holidays, finding it on Target's shelves a week before the hobby gets it is annoying to say the least. I would certainly like to see some repercussions, but given that Target will sell more Pandemic in a week than I will in a year, I sincerely doubt it. However, the game store channel is the primary outlet for the rest of Z-Man's catalog and causing them to sell a hot product at more of a disadvantage than usual is not good for the long term channel relationship.
With tabletop games surging in popularity, distribution woes will likely be an ongoing problem as publishers navigate between the hobby stores dedicated to gaming as a brand and mass market stores that offer access to a broader customer base.
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