Sunday, December 5, 2010

MIKE’S RANT OF THE MONTH – Montreal Paintball Fields' Out-of-Control Paint Prices!

I’m generally a pretty Zen, relaxed guy. But every once in a while, with no warning, I come across something that makes me angry...VERY angry. This conveniently happens around once a why not turn it into a monthly feature on Grey Ops?

The following opinions are mine alone, and don’t necessarily represent the views of Connor or any other writer on the Grey Ops team. Please direct all wrath, angry comments, law suits, and profanity towards myself (Mike), and spare all innocent parties.


With the winter months upon us, with their cold paintball-busting temperatures and party-pooping snow on the ground, now's the time of year I look forward to playing indoors. However I'm a resident of Ottawa, Ontario, and this city's only indoor field just recently closed up shop (not that it'll be missed much, as it was a tiny airball field). So that leaves me and my Paintball buddies the option of driving to either Montreal or Toronto this winter to enjoy the indoor fields available in each of those fine cities. And with Montreal being closer, that's where we tend to go for our winter day trips.

So with Montreal not that far away, and with several indoor fields to choose from in the Montreal area, I should be happy and looking forward to going to play there, right?


On the heels of No Money November, I'll be exposing the ridiculous prices Montreal-area paintball fields charge for paintballs.

But before really going off, I'll feature the major indoor fields, and show you just what to expect for your money.

Arnold Paintball

Arnold Paintball has an indoor site in a Montreal suburb, featuring a well-designed Western-themed village with a sand floor. Arnold Paintball also runs an outdoor field South of Montreal, which although large, isn't that great in comparison to most woodsball fields.

Both fields have one thing in common: Their ridiculous paintball prices. I'll let the screen grab below do the talking:

Yes, that's a ridiculously high price for a case of paintballs. But it gets worse!


Action500 features 2 locations in the Montreal area. The first (in Montreal's East end) is well-lit and features pretty typical indoor paintball field fare: sand flooring, wooden structures, and the occasional props (school buses, fake military emplacements, trenches). Their second indoor facility in Laval is similar, but less elaborate.

What will visiting either of these fields set you back? Click the image below and see for yourself:

You read that right: $240.00 a case. BUT IT GETS WORSE!!!

Skorpion Paintball

Before showcasing the ultimate Montreal-area ripoff, I'm going to take a little detour and look at what's available to the Speedball crowd, just to offer a little perspective.

Skorpion Paintball features an elaborate outdoor urban field, which is home to the MILSIG-sponsored Milsim team Deathkorp.

On the Speedball side however, Skorpion runs a regulation-sized indoor airball field year-round.

Now our Speedball comrades, with their 20bps markers, their laning, and their overwhelming need for suppressing fire, must surely get a break on the price of paintballs compared to their rec-ball and Milsim counterparts, right? Think again! Click the image below to see what they pay:

So no break for Montreal-area Speedballers either!

Mirabel Paintball

Mirabel Paintball is truly a powerhouse field in Eastern Canada. They feature 33 separate paintball fields, and hold several Big Games every season. They also organize The Siberia Challenge, a series of 3 winter games held during the winter months that draws many players. Mirabel Paintball also hosts a very well-done D-Day field, which Grey Ops has featured in the past.

For winter play, Mirabel has also set up a sparse indoor field under a dome. Actually "sparse" is probably me being too kind, and what I meant to say was LAME. Check out the shots from their own site, just to get an idea of how unimpressive their indoor playing field looks:

And just how much do you have to pay for paintballs to play on this forgettable field (after spending 45 minutes of time and gas to drive outside Montreal)? Well, Mirabel Paintball is good at hiding the cost of paintballs for walk-ons on their website, and I think this sneakiness is intentional. After all, if you've spent almost an hour driving out to the site, you can't exactly leave if you think the paint prices are too high.

To find out the price of paintballs, I had to go into the slick "Create your package" Flash application on their site. Buried somewhere in all the hype about choosing whether you're a "Regular Player" or a "Warrior", or whether you want the basic "Competition" package (a Tippmann 98) or the "Super Nitro" package (an e-gripped A5 with a shroud and stock), you get to the price of additional paintballs. Here's the cost of a case for the lowest grade of field paint:

Keep in mind that 15 cents/ball is the cost for the entry-grade paint (Draxxus Field), and that "performance paint" (Draxxus Blaze) or "Frostbite" winter paint costs 17 cents a ball! Of course the math on the screen cap doesn't really work out (a full case would cost $300 if that were the deal), so they must lower the price a bit at or near the full case level. $260.00 for a case of basic field paint is still retarded beyond measure, by any standard.

As you can see above, a player wanting to rent a basic package, with 8 hours of play time and a full case (which is usually about how much paint one would need for a full 8 hours of normal hopper-fed play), would have to pay $304.95 for one day of paintball. To my knowledge, this is the highest field-pricing anywhere in North America!

Conclusion: Collusion

I played at Arnold Indoor back in the 90s when it was known as Tombstone Paintball, and in 1995 the price of paintballs was $210/case there too. With new technologies, the popularity of paintball growing, and the increased demand for and production of paintballs, the price of manufacturing and distributing paintballs has come down quite a bit since then. So why do Montreal fields still charge 1995 prices? Because they can!

One might be tempted to say that the supplier to the province of Quebec charges a higher price to Montreal fields. But it's definitely not "a Quebec thing" - Tactik Paintball charges only $130/case to non-members, and it's in the Province of Quebec as well. The difference is that it has to compete with Ottawa, Ontario fields across the river that charge a maximum of $160/case. To me this is proof-positive that the Montreal prices are fixed, and that there's some collusion going on. The fact that Arnold Paintball could sell Draxxus Blaze at $80/case at their Big Game in 2009 and still turn a profit is further proof that this is Any one of the fields I've shown above could slice their case price in half and still make a decent profit (and undercut ALL of their competitors), but they don't. So the price fix is in, and gullible customers keep on paying the outrageous prices. Needless to say, you'll be hard-pressed to find a field in the Montreal area running Bring Your Own Paint (BYOP) days, as that would ruin a nice racket they've got going.

This is a sad state of affairs, and I urge all Montreal-area players to protest as loudly as possible, on any Montreal or Quebec-affiliated message board they can find, about this GREED. Maybe if enough paintball players in the Montreal area realized they were being had, and cut down on the frequency of their visits, when the field owners saw a dip in their bottom lines they'd come to their senses. A boycott isn't even necessary though, and just by adopting limited-ammo play and using better tactics, most players could send a message that they refuse to be soaked of their cash. Paintball field owners need to realize that the customers are their lifeline, and that if they hose them and treat them like unlimited revenue streams, eventually they'll stop bringing in their business.

In the meantime, if you live within driving distance of Ottawa, and you'd like to play at Arnold Indoor, you can try the field out at a reasonable price in January by signing up for Carnage Paintball's Road Trip there. Chuck at Carnage has negotiated a sensible deal with the staff - one that doesn't shaft the players.

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