After going to Dragonflight (The GenCon of Bellevue) we met some awesome designers who had been working on their game for the better half of two years. Having played their game I was stunned that they still hadn’t launched it on kickstarter. Their biggest reason? They didn’t know how to start! We offered to help answer any questions they had and a couple days later they emailed us with plenty of questions. We think these questions are great questions that first time creators would ask.
Thanks to Steph who's game Get off my Yard is on Kickstarter. Here’s an unedited email transcription of our conversation: I have written the direct responses out below.
How many different manufacturers did you get quotes from?
We got quotes from PandaGM, Wingo, NingBo, and an American Printer called PrintNinja. I have attached links of each. Please note that some components may be different. In terms of speed WinGo got back to us the fastest then NingBo then PrintNinja then I had to email Panda again before they gave me a quote. They were by far the slowest, at some point I requested a different account manager from Panda because the one I dealt with was rude and gave me little information. I went into the quoting process convinced I was going to use Panda.
If you are curious, here is what I referenced before I got quotes. http://www.jamesmathe.com/hitchhikers-guide-to-game-manufacturers/
Who was the cheapest, most expensive, best quality?
See above link. In my opinion, Panda is the gold standard along with Ludofact. Except Panda was difficult to work with and Ludofact was expensive. I saw a game by WinGo (Posthuman) at my local game shop and was thoroughly impressed. Their pricing was in my range and it was nice to work with them to break down exactly where the costs were coming from so i knew which components to make cheaper. To get a good idea on what is what for components we found this to be extremely helpful http://www.gatekeepergaming.com/article-11-demystifying-game-components/
I would suggest joining this Facebook group and doing a search on your manufacturers name.
Were you able to get samples made from different manufacturers to see what their print quality was?
I didn't ask them to send a kit, because 1) I didn't want to commit, and sending a kit I feel leads them on a bit too much, but 2) I went to see their actual games they had made at my local game store. With Panda, I knew the quality of Pandemic etc. and I did the same thing with WinGo.
Why did you go with the one you chose?
TBH I really wanted to use Panda, everything about their site sold me. However after realizing that they are essentially the middlemen and that some of their account managers were difficult to work with and slow at email, I chose WinGo. Throughout the entire process they are extremely responsive and would respond to my emails within 24 hours and have face to face skype meeting with me. Their English is workable, but I opted to speak Chinese which I thought if I could communicate directly with the company it would minimize communication errors. We wrote all our emails in English.
As for distributors/retail stores, I remember you saying that you made some contract with them to entice them? How does this whole process work?
As for as distributors and retail stores. We made a list (I think we pulled the list from the people Jamey mentioned) and emailed them this:
We are reaching out because we saw you helped our Jamey with the Vitaculture expansion and wanted to offer you a similar deal. Our Kickstarter is winding down and we would love to sign up some more exclusive retailers for our game.
You might be thinking, why would I back a Kickstarter when we can get it from our consolidator and not pay for it in advance.
Here are a list of reasons that might compel you to back today (also see who's already in):
1) We will create the demand for you. By listing your shop as the exclusive place to get Emergence in your city. With a growing fan base and people who are going to look to buy post Kickstarter we will send you new customers who are ready to pay. (We aren't taking any orders after the kickstarter is over and would direct them to you)
2) The game won't be going to consolidators and traditional distribution. We also won't undercut your prices on Amazon. (We won't sell our product on Amazon until all your inventory is cleared)
3) We understand that selling a brand new game can be difficult and we want to help. By limiting our board game to one store per city, we will provide you with guides, tips and marketing collateral to best sell your game. We also believe in remaining loyal to those who believe and supported you at the beginning, we will do everything we can to make sure our early retailers have an advantage.
Ultimately, we like to think of ourselves as of not just game designers but business savvy entrepreneurs. We believe in our ability to foster and grow our community. We are confident in our marketing efforts that our game will quickly create hype and demand. With no reprint and deep discounters to undercut your margins, we expect our fans to flock to their Friendly Local Game Shops :)
Here is our pricing model for retailers. Please note that we cannot promise restock as we want everyone to clear their shelves before we order another print run.
5 Copies: We have a retail special for $149 directly on Kickstarter
10+ Copies: Our cost would be $25.50 USD ($52 MSRP) per Unit and a free copy for your library
20+ Copies: Our cost would be $25.50 USD and free international shipping. (US Backers already would have free shipping in the 10+ Copies)
100+ Copies: Our cost would be $20.80/copy.
By the time you read this there will be less then a day to act we would like for you to place the order before the Kickstarter is over, please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
From the manufacturers they ship to your chosen distributors?
Then the distributors ship to your backers?
I think you need to clarify the word distributors. Often in the board game industry distributors are used with aggregators basically companies that buy your game at 50% off MSRP and distribute to local stores. If by people who package up your game and send them to peoples homes we used the world fulfillment. So yep the fulfillment centers shipped to our backers.
And how do you start getting it sold in stores?
Usually in the industry you sell to a aggregator who then sells to a retail store. Often retail stores will get your game for 50% off the msrp and sell it for MSRP. See here. http://blog.foxtrotgames.com/2016/02/05/distribution-cash-flow-profit/
As for marketing, we noticed how outgoing and willing you and also some other people were at talking to everyone possible who walks by the table and try to get them to play the game. We find we are not as brave in that aspect haha. We will have to work on that. We really like how much you advertised in so many different media platforms. We would never have thought about press or podcast interviews. We don't really go on reddit either. And I saw how many reviews you got from different online sources. I think our problem is that we don't know enough about those platforms. I'd love to get some help with the marketing side of things. I just don't even know where to start.
Hahaha trust me the braveness comes from years of cold sales I had to do for work, it still sucks everytime, but it sucks less. Just force yourself to do it, you will appreciate it. But set yourself goals like I will ask 10 stranger today. etc.
In terms of marketing I would start simple. Take that list I gave you of influencers, draft up a email, take some photos of your game, include a summary of the game like elevator pitch. "Get off my Lawn, is a Euro-Ameritrash tile placing game where players take turns creating their own farm while simultaneous trying to out maneuver the competition" Something like that.
Then email people personally like, Hey Billy, I listened to your podcast and loved the bit you did on Alhambra on kickstarter. We developed a similar game taking unique aspects and themes from good ole hick farming and mixed it with a euro heavy tile placement game, we would love for you to demo the game and let us know what you think!
Literally rinse and repeat. You gotta build a couple of reviewers and it will snowball. That is probably the easiest one to do, the other stuff can get complicated but I am more then happy to give you advice. You can either use our list, or click on kickstarters and scroll through them and see who is reviewing what. Also here is another link. http://www.gatekeepergaming.com/motherloadlistofreviewers/
We will be making some changes in the next week or so. Unfortunately we are very rushed as we are trying to make a video submission for a design contest. Hopefully we get everything changed in time.
No worries at all, to be honest, dont be afraid to put your game out there. I would say the most important aspect of marketing is figuring out what type of people will enjoy it. For us it was hoping on the social deduction gamers and adding a board. For you it might be the Unique theme of Ameritrash but with a euro complex tile laying game.
We will also be making a blog post tonight and we will definitely talk about you and your game and link people to Emergence. We don't have that big of a following yet but I hope we can send a few people your way :)
O thank you! that is quite kind!
Thanks and sorry for bombarding you with questions. We appreciate anything you're willing to help with.
Let me know if there is anything else you need help with.
*Feel free to leave a comment or question if you need any clarification! Hope this helps and perhaps some of you were even thinking the same thing!