Sunday, October 11

Sumeria 2 Player Expansion

As I've mentioned before, when Sumeria was initially submitted to me it was for 2-4 players. During playtesting one of my playtesters spotted a problem with the scoring in the two player game. I was at this point sailing fairly close to the wind (sounds familiar!) and so Dirk and I made the decision to take the two player game out of the mix.

At a later stage we came up with a solution to the two player scoring conundrum, but by that point it was too late to add it back into the game.

Last year at Essen I had one game that had been out just over a month. I had very few distributors, so very few people owned a copy of it. It was to all intents and purposes a new release for Essen. This year I've a game that came out last September, and was at Essen last year, a game that came out last November (so hasn't been to Essen yet) and a game that came out in June. While most of my European distributors haven't picked up Sumeria, I can't really describe it as an Essen release - it's been out for three months.

There had been interest in the two player game and I had considered making an expansion at some point. When it became clear to me that sales over the Summer wouldn't be good enough to fund a new release for Essen (and in fact I've not received a submission that was ready to go in time anyway), I started thinking of ways to entice people to my stand. Since all three of the games I've got are theoretically available in stores - why come to my stand at Essen to get them when there's so many shiny new things coming out?

So I went back to the 2 player expansion idea. I wanted to make the expansion as cheap as possible for the buying public to make it more of a impulse purchase, and also to allow me to provide it as an Essen promo freebie - buy Sumeria at my Essen stand and you get this limited expansion for free!

That lead me down a particular route. If I sell a game to shops via distributors the retail price should be 5 times the manufacturing cost - i.e. if it costs me £2 to make it, it should retail for £10 (it doesn't work out quite like this - my margins are tighter). If however I only sell to people directly (at cons and via my website) then I can price it at 2 times the manufacturing cost (e.g. a £1 per copy manufacturing cost leads to a £2 retail price). I choose the latter route. The next decision was packaging. If you're selling to shops you want a nice pretty box that will look good on the shelf and attract peoples' eye. If you're selling directly you don't need that. The expansion can come in a baggie and the customer can store it inside the original box. This further cuts manufacturing costs (no box art needed and a baggie is much cheaper than a small box), and fits with my "small box, no wasted space" ethos. Again that cheaper option is the route I chose.

The expansion arrived at my house last Monday. I'd chosen to have it delivered to my house instead of the warehouse since it would be quite small and I was expecting it to be delivered by a courier. Instead a 7.5ton lorry turned up with the expansion on a pallet. It was five medium-sized boxes, which failed to even fill the bottom of a pallet - seemed like overkill! The lorry driver helped me cut the shrink-wrapping off the pallet and lift the five boxes off the pallet, which I then carried into my office. Opening the first box the expansions looked like exactly what I was expecting - no surprises there.

It's not been a completely smooth ride though. On top of the mental week of Essen travel disasters, there was a small problem with the expansion. In the two player game each player takes four turns per round, whereas in the three and four player games you only get three. The sticker in the expansion is designed to cover the three space turn track with a new four space turn track.

Unfortunately the sticker is a bit too transparent, so if you put it over the turn track as designed you can see the old turn track underneath. It looks rubbish.

Fortunately there is a solution: Cut the sticker in half between the three and four spaces and throw away the 1-3 bit. Add the 4 bit to the board just below and to the right of the three space printed on the board.

Works fine :) But it's a bit inconvenient and doesn't reflect especially well on my production values. I think I'll include a slip of paper in each bag at Essen explaining this fix.

22 comments:

Hulken said...

Finaly finaly!

I´m up to date, with youre blogg that is. I´t bin a late night last couple of days project of mine. Reading throu al youre old blog posts and finaly being ther when the new post got posted... Woho!!!

Realy nice reading I have to say, very touching (for lack of better word).

How is the new meds working out fore you? Able to drive yet?

By the way, did you ever sell anny game to the postalworker at the post office, or did you forget?? =)

Best regards Daniel.

Jack said...

Hiya Daniel,

I admire your perseverance! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

The new meds are going pretty well, and I was only unable to drive for a week in April and the week of the treatment with the new drug in August - so I'm back behind the wheel :)

I never did sell one to the Post Office guy (I no longer work or live anywhere near that Post Office), but I did sell a copy of Border Reivers to my Bank Manager :)

Cheers,

Jack

Anonymous said...

It's good that your bank manager believes in your products...

Jack said...

Yeah, it was a great feeling when I sold that copy - right at the beginning of my Reiver Games journey :)

Cheers,

Jack

Hulken said...

I have some questions fore you, if you dont mind =)

First of, have you notice an increas in preorders on sumeria vs the previous games?
Did you have to pay the printrun of sumeria by youre self or did the previous sails cover it. If not when do you think that will hapen? (previous printruns sovering new once)
If i remeber correctly you stil have not taken anny salary. You want to reatch "critical mass" as you put it before you take anny salary. Ore is there some other goal you want to acive before?

/Daniel

Steve said...

Unless I'm being stupid (always possible/probable) - the Sumeria page doesn't have the price of the expansion on it. You have to click through to the buy page and let PayPal tell you.
Not that I was bothered, but I thought you might be :-)

Jack said...

Hiya Steve,

Nice catch - thanks I'll fix that immediately.

Cheers,

Jack

Jack said...

Hiya Daniel,

Sorry I missed your questions. Here are some answers:
1) Pre-orders are pretty low for all my games especially now that I've got pretty good distribution - it's often cheaper to buy it locally than pre-order and pay full price shipping.
2) The Sumeria print run was the most expensive one so far and was almost completely covered by previous sales.
3) Obviously I want to be able to draw a salary - but to do that I need to be making enough money to draw a salary and still fund new production runs.

Cheers,

Jack

Avantman42 said...

Are you going to include a bit of paper explaining the fix in postal orders of the expansion?

Jack said...

Hiya Russ,

In my response to the order email I'll link to the problem explanation and fix on BGG - that way I save some paper.

Cheers,

Jack

Avantman42 said...

Fair enough, that's good enough for me :) I just wondered because I didn't remember seeing anything in the e-mail telling me that the expansion was available.

Russ

Jack said...

Hiya Russ,

Yeah, don't worry I'll make sure everyone knows.

Cheers,

Jack

Hulken said...

So nice to hear, then maby in 2-3 more games you will have reatched "critical mass". So you can start earning som salarie finaly =)

By the way, I´m going to my first Essen this year. =) I´m realy looking forward to it. How is youre essen scedual? Maby we could go get a beer and talk boardgames one of the days there, if youre not fully booked that is =)

/Daniel

Jack said...

Hiya Darren,

Swing by the booth (4-415 in Hall 4), it would be great to meet you.

Unfortunately I'll be too busy on the stand during the day to pop out for beer, and if last year was anything to go by I'll be way to tired after the show!

Cheers,

Jack

W. Eric Martin said...

Jack, even though Sumeria won't be new to BGGers and Spielfrieks, most of the crowd at Spiel will not have seen the game or even know that it exists. That's not to say that you're bad at marketing – only that most Spiel attendees don't seem to follow game sites.

Jack said...

Hiya Eric,

Good point. I'm not very good at marketing though! I'm still struggling to work out what's the best way to spend my limited marketing budget.

See you at Essen.

Cheers,

Jack

Darren, London said...

Perhaps a novel way to monetise your games, Jack? http://263804.spreadshirt.fr/

Jack said...

Hiya Darren,

While I can see that might work with mass-market games that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies, I can't see that there would be enough people interested for my games which have sold far fewer copies.

Cheers,

Jack

Hulken said...

A question regarding the sweters you designed. Think you can post pictures of them?

Jack said...

Hiya Daniel,

They aren't that exciting, just a plain black sweater with the Reiver Games logo embroidered on them.

Cheers,

Jack

Hulken said...

Ok, I just figured (for the future) this might be a good way of marketing youre self. And I don´t mean mak lots of sweters, but i do mean mak the one you do make count.

You have a monster builder game, put a nice eyecatching sentens on the front of the swetter. Somthing like: "Ever wonder what my monster look like?" And on the back a nice big picture of the It´s Alive box cover. If you make the sweters like this i can garante its eyecatching, and that people wil probobly remember youre games more. Onley drawback, not realy shure how to incorperat the company name or logo. But i guess its not realy that big of a problem. Sins marketing youre games will inadvertebly bring atention to youre company further down the line.

Jack said...

Hiya Daniel,

Good idea. I'll have to look into that in future.

Cheers,

Jack