It's hard not to feel as though we are missing the mark on this. The concept of aggregating these inventories and establishing price alerts...brilliant. This industry and this hobby thrive on scarcity. It creates a subculture of those who seek out games not only for their content, but for the thrill of finding something rare.
This is where platforms like Board Game Atlas come into play. We can upload our wishlists for price tracking and hope to receive an alert when the game is finally within reach. The problem occurs when a retailer decides to open up pre-orders for a game. This new metric introduces itself, potentially flagging the product as "Historic Low" and triggering alerts for those in search of the game. The concern is that in the cases I am seeing...this game is no more available than any of the retailers that have simply conceded that they are "out of stock." The aggregated metrics, the alerts, all of it has been triggered by a hypothetical promise that a retailer will eventually find their distribution and, at that point, they will send it over in an undisclosed order. You may or may not be covered by this ambiguous promise, but you will undoubtedly be aware of it.
Piggybacking on this is the use of shipping costs to position your retailer as the 'lowest' price. While it is absolutely possible to leverage this by racking up enough of a purchase to reach free shipping...it seems that there could be a delineation between the lowest price of a game, and the lowest price for a game in the context of a $125 order. It goes without saying that buying more affords a greater discount, but at that point we are evaluating the comparative benefits of large orders from retailers, rather than the cost of the actual game. To simplify: one is a measure of a retailer, one is a measure of a game.
Case in point:
This (among others) was sent to my email via alert. This is absolutely a game that I'm trying to pick up but it is absolutely impossible to find. I'd expect to see it sitting around 55-60 when the next distribution hits. To see it at 40.96, that's crazy. So i obviously drop what i'm doing (as i'm sure others did) and grab my credit card because this is an outstanding deal. Then when we arrive at the site we see a couple of things:
-They no more have the game than I do. They have an estimated release date but no indication of their distribution. Will all of their orders be covered or is this a Wingspan-level scarcity where I could be waiting 5 months after purchase?
-Their shipping is $13 dollars, bringing this total price to around $54. At this point we aren't really dealing with a historic, we just have a dealer breaking out the same cost you'd find at amazon or anywhere else, but doing so in a way that triggers aggregation systems everywhere.
So my question and the reason for this post...is there a way around this? Can we differentiate in our alerts between an "order" and a "pre-order?"