Due to the ongoing manufacturing and shipping delays worldwide (please see “Understanding the Global Shipping Crisis” below for more details on the latter), many of our titles currently in production will be delayed. Our partners estimate the current pickup at the factory in China for Street Masters Tide of the Dragon, Buddy Cop, and Contra is going to be August at the earliest.
Now, while we hope a boat ride will take place shortly after said pickup at the factory in August, we want to make it clear that right now there are a lot of unknowns in the shipping world and we can't provide estimates beyond that timeframe; our partner QML is going to do it’s best to keep us updated on the situation and available timetables as info comes in (which we'll then relay to Street Masters backers and post on the Buddy Cop and Contra product pages).
We understand this update might come as a disappointment to many (it has for us) but we want to make sure to clearly state that our partners will do everything in their power to get your goods out to you as quickly as possible using all the means available to them amidst these chaotic circumstances.
Understanding the Global Shipping Crisis
As you may or may not be aware, the shipping industry has been facing unprecedented issues since early 2020 thanks to COVID-19 and all the knock on effects it has had. This has affected all industries, including ours. That said, we continue to get messages daily from many backers and clients asking for more details on the crisis or ways of better understanding why things are slow and uncertain. So, we’ve tried to compile a comprehensive list of topics and links that explain in detail what’s been going on globally and how it affects us all. As well, we’ve added a TLDR (too long, didn’t read) summary for each topic that gives you the basic idea if you don’t want to check the links out.
We’re providing this info not to patronize or make excuses, but rather to get us all on the same page to better understand that things have changed so much since 2019, that we as publishers, consumers, and shippers can no longer expect things to be as simple as they were before. This is going to be the reality for the foreseeable future, so we need to work together to better understand where we sit.
As a primer, we highly recommend you watch this excellent video made by Jesse at Quackalope which opens the discussion in easy-to-understand terms.
Topic: COVID-19’s Effects on Logistics
Though we all know what happened since we lived/are living through it, what’s easily overlooked is when countries have independent lockdowns. We could be “business as usual” one day, then an isolated regional outbreak prevents ports from opening, shippers from operating, boats from sailing, containers from being filled, freight from freighting, and workers from working in integral areas of operation. And even when people do return, it’s a slow trickle in because even though everyone wants to work, everything is in an uncertain and ever-changing state.
Topic: Container Shortage
COVID-19 caused a container shortage in 2020: containers were not being returned, containers were abandoned, containers were being overbooked, and big companies were aggressively taking them by flexing muscle. This drove costs and demand higher. While China overbooked containers, costs began to inflate as containers became rare finds and illegal bidding/auctions to jump lines became a thing. It was a mess and there was almost no way for medium to small companies (across all industries) to get containers.
Topic: Container Price Squeeze
With the inflated price caused by shortages and demand, opportunists keep raising pricing and it’s said that it’ll be like this for the rest of the year. To give you perspective, pre-COVID a shipping container (depending on size) could cost $4,000-$6,000. Currently, the same container on average is about $19,000-$22,000 and maybe more depending on when you want it. We have paid for this price increase ourselves for our currently fulfilling projects and plan to continue to do so so that we do not have to request additional funds from our backers.
Topic: Limited Boat Bookings and Cargo Rolling
Prior to all this, you could put as many containers as you could afford on a boat. Now, however, there’s a limit on most cargo boats limiting 2 containers per company. Our FS1 to the US has 10 containers. This means we have to utilize 5 different boat schedules, if we’re lucky to get a slot (remember, companies from a wide range of industries are fighting for the same slots). There is no way we’re allowed to put 10 containers on one boat, even if there was space (new regulations prevent it). It’s gotten to the point where bigger non-tabletop gaming companies are being sly and opening sister companies to try to sneak more containers on board.
Because of this, we’re trying to be creative and work with QML and other publishers to try to share containers in order to get as much product out to the warehouse in the most efficient time. This isn’t ideal, clearly, but it’s the fastest way to get items to our warehouses to sort.
To top it all off, there is also cargo “rolling” to contend with, which is another major issue that’s going on now. What does it mean?
This also means trying to track boats is difficult/moot for partners as sometimes cargo can get switched onto different boats that are available at short notice without anyone realizing or cargo containers may be left behind for other containers due to mixup, not passing inspections, or due to possible side agreements that took precedence.
Topic: Port Congestion
Basically with the jam-up at ports, what normally takes a day and a half can take up to a week for boats to properly dock, people to move the containers off, customs/checks to be processed, and finally freighted trucks to pick up the containers to take to the warehouses.
While it might not seem like it since it relates to a small portion of the globe, Brexit had a huge knock on effect on the shipping industry. With no disrespect intended, Brexit was uncharted territory and provided no solid plan for the shipping industry. For publishers trying to get things to the EU, we had to ship to the UK, then the UK to the EU, which meant we would get charged twice for duties/taxes/VAT. However, because nothing was really determined pre-Brexit, nobody could really predict what that meant financially. Which meant that it would be “wrong” for publishers to charge backers for these increases, so we've had to take the hit out of pocket (which was substantial, to say the least) for affected projects so far. To top it off, customs were a mess and disorganized to the point where they would send boats back or create bottlenecks/lockdowns with customs when they suddenly required more documentation from freight forwarders without letting anyone know. Needless to say, delays lasted weeks if not months.
In summary, the Street Masters Tide of the Dragon/reprint project, Contra, and Buddy Cop are currently slated to leave the factory in China in August and we hope to have a boat ride shortly afterwards, but we cannot provide any estimates at this point due to the ever-changing status of the shipping world. Rest assured, though, that everything will be done to get these products out to you as quickly and safely as possible.
Thank you everyone for your patience as the world continues to adapt to this new reality and as we do our best to adapt in kind. We promise the wait will be worth it!