eBay UK to put all wargames scales back into one category

Sep 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Top News

Throughout 2005 and 2006, professional wargames traders such as Lea from War-Painter, myself, and many others whose names I’ve not remembered, lobbied eBay UK to split out the main wargames figures categories by scale.  It took some time, and back then eBay UK staff were willing to take advice from their pro and powerseller customers.

Eventually we won the long, often frustrating, campaign to have figures broken out into sub-categories by scale, and even eBay staff publicly posted in their discussion boards that the move had been very successful for them, their sellers, and the buying users.

This month however, eBay UK are to reverse that earlier decision and all the scale subcategories are to be recombined back into one massive list in the main “Wargames – Tabletop/Historical” category (category number 123860 for those that use category numbers).

Personally I am convinced this will have a massive negative effect on sales of historical and tabletop wargames figures on eBay.  Apart from the loss of easy finding by scale (one of any wargamers top two considerations when buying, the other being period) it means that buyers will have to trawl through a category swamped by duplicate listings.  These duplicates are not always by the same seller, but due to the commoditisation of figures, especially in genres such as Flames of War and Games Workshop, compounded by inexperienced gamers and sellers listing products such as Warhammer 40K goblins and orcs etc in the historical categories, simply because GW’s Warhammer Historical allows for use of Fantasy figures against their “historical” armies.

As a veteran of selling on eBay since February 2003, a former multi-account eBay PowerSeller, and a blogger and news reporter of all things eBay, I am personally convinced this will decimate their revenues from the category – especially when it becomes flooded with all the Japanese anime and Manga style robot figures that have steamrollered the wargames categories on eBay Australia.   Add to that situation that eBay’s search systems since the introduction of Best Match have been thoroughly banjaxed, and it’s not looking good for finding figures on eBay anymore.

Here at Long Range Logistics, that means a phenomenal amount of work is ahead of us to rejig the LRL Figures Finder pages to account for these category changes.  It also means a huge job of work for the “old hands” throughout the hobby to educate and message the youngsters about what constitutes wargaming figures, scales, and historical periods, in order to keep Fantasy and Science Fiction models out of the Historical category.  It will likely cause many long-suffering sellers to follow our lead and abandon eBay as a venue altogether.  This could be a saving situation for bring and buys at shows and conventions.

On the back of this news, I’m now playing with the idea of building an online venue, with correct major and sub categories for the UK and European wargames marketplace – one that would be built and run by long-experienced wargamers (personally I have 35 years in the hobby and 21 in the industry).  What’s your opinion – do you think this would be a good idea, have you suggestions for how it should be structured?  Add your comments in the discussion area below.



p.s.  Watch what happens to the following eBay search results after the category switch over – using search terms ” 25mm medieval (knights, men-at-arms, longbow, figures, historical) ” – it should return figures of type 25mm historical medieval wargames figures of any of the three types in the brackets.  Maybe it will pre-changes, but I’ll bet it’s full of GW Fantasy figures after the change, and other than day-dreaming about tropical islands full of dusky maidens in the age of buccaneers, fantasy is normally not in the historical wargamer’s mind.

[wordbay]25mm medieval (knights, men-at-arms, longbow, figures, historical)[/wordbay]

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  1. I am amazed that Ebay ever listened to you about the categories at all in toys and hobbies. I complained for years about the Role-playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons category, that it was completely wrong as it was not a trading card game any longer, and it was not available in singles or sets.

    I was unpolightly told that people in the “know” had set the categories that way and Hell would freeze over the day they changed them to anything I suggested. I’m sure one of these so called experts said that historical’s don’t need to be more categorized and that is that.

    As far as starting a new auction site specifically for war gamers, don’t waste your time. It’s already been tried and failed. Thew site is still available to gamers. http://www.games2trains.com/ formerly known as Wargames Market was a flourishing site that was only met with scorn and ridicule when the owner tried to do any Ebay alternative type promotion with it. So now it sits as a near dead site with 1/1000th of the traffic it had with the original owner.

    My advise start a Zencart or OScommerse site and forget auctions all together if you want an alternative.

  2. Hi James and thanks for the thoughts.

    Yes I am sometimes amazed at the intransigence of eBay towards accepting category advice from customers (sellers) who have long experience in a particular niche, especially given the average employee age at eBay.

    Regarding Games2Trains – I think the big mistake they made was how they structured the fees on the site, it was an immediate put-off to the trade (especially any with any length of time selling online) because the site did not have the traffic to justify the fees.

    If they had run with only “success fees” from the outset, I think it would have been far more successful – other sites have done this and not only been sustainable, but have grown considerably – eBid.net and Bonanzle.com spring to mind especially. eBid does have a good (though nowhere near complete) categories list for wargames, which I helped advise the structure of back in about 2005 / 2006, though very few wargamers seem to use eBid.net – shame as it has possibly the lowest fees of the fee-charging marketplace industry. Fees are only charged on a successful sale. Bonanzle I haven’t looked at for wargames selling, but they’ve seen phenomenal growth since they launched a couple of years back.

    eBay seems to be relying on purely name and public awareness to maintain momentum, while doing everything they can to distance themselves from the quirky and unique items that set their name in lights – seems a suicide course to me. Now I note they’re trying to strike a deal where Alibaba.com’s Chinese manufacturers can list through Alibaba onto eBay. That will totally submerge all small western-country sellers in the search results.

    End result = no point hanging around on eBay, an alternative needs set up now, otherwise marketplace type online selling for wargamers is going to collapse – unfortunately, I don’t think Games2Trains has the platform or seller-systems to capture our niche.


  3. I don’t really agree with you about the fee’s putting off sellers on G2T, it was more the aftermarket “enhancements” added to the site that put people off. The bulk item lister stopped doing what it needed to do the most, transfer items over from Ebay turbo lister files for easy transfer of stock. In fact the Bulk lister was only 10% fuctional after that.
    I remember that Jason restructured the fees on there several times and finally moved to a totally free auction format, and only a small store fee if you wanted something more then just auctions. At one time he had 50,000 hits per month and 20 on-line stores.
    The problem was every time he mentioned “Ebay” Every doubter and naysayer who had ever so much as looked at Ebay insulted him, cursed him, called him an outright fool, and badgered him until he said “F” this and sold the site to someone who has not done anything with it since he bought it.
    So anyone wanting to start another “Ebay” alternative is going to have a huge hill to climb because the market doesn’t want another auction alternative, there quite happy with finding the stuff languising on ebay that they can pick up cheap after the seller has priced himself into bankruptsy.
    Ebay Auctions currently account for 0.0001% of my sales, I list nearly all my items in fixed price format.

  4. Ebay doesn’t seem to want the private individual selling their cast offs anymore. In the end it will be just an online high street shopping mall.

    I was a regular buyer, but for the last couple of years I may go to ebay once a month instead of my daily visits.

    Perhaps an online auction site as ebay used to be would catch on again. Who knows??????

    PS this bloody captcha thingy is a bloody nuisance, this is my third attempt.

  5. @ Clive – sorry about the captcha code, but it’s an essential for site security. Akismet anti-spam catches and kills around 90% of auto/bot posted comment spam and about 98% of manually posted comment spam. The captcha code knocks out the other 10% of auto/bot posted spam, leaving me with just the 2% from manual posting to moderate. Between them two, they’ve also reduced hacker-bot attacks (trying to get malware code injects into the database via comments, to zero (for now anyway) – that’s critical for keeping the site clean and safe.

    100% of non-spam comments submitted are normally approved and appear on the site as above. With the huge list of sites I now have, this automation is essential or I just couldn’t run them.


  6. @ James – do you have an approximate date for when G2T’s bulk lister stopped working properly with TL (and was it working with TL1 or TL2?) – I know that the category mapping from eBay categories to T2G’s categories would be a full time job for one person to maintain because eBay renumber them so constantly.

    The other factor could also have been how you set TL to store images – if you set TL to only use a link to the image on your hard drive then migration should be no problem unless you relocate the images or rename them on your own PC. But if you told TL to store them in it’s database then it encodes the pixel map and that might not be readable between applications. Sorry if that’s technobabble, but it’s a very real issue that many sites have encountered.

    On the other hand, if the G2T bulk lister was doing the same as Bonanzle for example, where it grabbed the listings straight from your eBay account, then all bets are off, because it allows eBay to also include any code they want to, in any part of the listing data, and have that dragged into your importing site – not a pretty prospect for site security and integrity.


  7. I don’t have the exact calender date, but I can tell you exactly when it stopped working.

    When Jason started the site he used a complete auction in a box software package. The bulk lister that came with it worked like a dream. You installed the program and then loaded you TL data base file into it. After a little editing for catagory and a couple other things that were different between the sites you could then upload then with pics just like you would turbo lister.

    And then Jason decided he needed a fancier site, so he bought some third party upgrade that frankly did nothing but make the site less use able and had to have a new Bulk lister to be compatable with the new site.

    Well the 3rd party bulk lister was a total piece of crap. It wouldn’t accept TL files without crashing, you couldn’t edit a listing once you did it, and there was no delete function, so items you no longer had stayed in there forever. and if you moved a listing into the upload section and discovered you needed to fix something the only way to get it out of there was to upload it and fix it on the site,

    Needless to say that hurt the site more then anything because any big seller is going to want a short cut tool to make listing his inventory quick/painless and without a bulk lister that did more then just upload to the site that was not going to happen.

    I tried to tell him he needed to just go back to the original, but he never did and he never did get any big players to come into the market either.

    If you want to start another site like WM/G2T I’ll be happy to support it, but its really going to take more work then you will probably ever get out of it.

    @Clive I alway copy my listings before I enter the code so if I mess up I just need to paste and try again…

  8. That said I would again support an alternative as I did WM/G2T, but only if the site was simple as WM was fresh out of the box and the bulk lister accepted Ebay TL2 files.

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