Friday, March 26

The Goodwill Of Others

Yesterday I posted a Geeklist on BoardGameGeek describing my two years trying to get Reiver Games to the the point where it could support me as a full-time employee who draws a reasonable salary.

I've had to admit in the last couple of weeks that Reiver Games is still a long way from that point and that I need to bring in some money way before Reiver Games reaches that point. So I need to take some form of gainful employment and run Reiver Games in the background. I've really enjoyed running Reiver Games and I want to continue to do so.

What stood out on the Geeklist was the goodwill of several of the commenters. Several people were disappointed that it hadn't worked out for me, several offered their sympathy.

A couple of guys who had visited my stand at Essen felt bad for not buying a copy of Sumeria, despite it not being their sort of game! While that sentiment is nice, I don't want to do well because people feel sorry for me, or because they want me to live my dream. I want people to buy my games of course. But I want them to buy my games because they think the game will provide enough enjoyment to make it worth the cost. I want them to be bought and played until they fall apart, not sit on a collector's shelf as another unplayed game in their collection.

What also stood out was the comment by my friend and playtester Paul:

I'll keep supporting you and sending good wishes your way whatever shape Reiver Games takes - I still believe that if anyone can make it in this industry it's you! And I promise, in public, that I will purchase at least one copy of every Reiver Games publication to do my part to keep you in biccies! Maybe others could do the same ?!? If your next project is the one we've playtested then I AM OFFICIALLY VERY EXCITED!!!! It is an awesome game of much awsomeness! With extra awesome on the side! It will be perfect present material for friends (both gamers and non I think) and has been enjoyed by all the York fraternity who have tried it so far. Good luck! Don't give up!

Paul's pledge is incredibly generous. It's in no small part due to his generosity, his compulsive collecting of games and his friendship and wish for me to succeed. But I like to think it's also because we have a similar taste in games and he figures anything I publish will be to his tastes. Paul is a True Fan.

With 3,000 true fans I'd have sold out of all my games. But that's one in every 2,200,000 people in the world population. Considering most of the world population will never hear of me or my company, and of the proportion that might have a slight chance of stumbling across me most have no interest in board games it's a pretty tall order.

What I need to work out is how to reach those potential true fans and convert them. The games I like are pretty popular - there must be more people out there who would like It's Alive!, Carpe Astra and Sumeria if they played them. How do I get the games in front of them?


Mal said...

To help convert general gamers into Reiver Gamers, would some sort of community thing help? Maybe even just kick it off with a way for people to add themselves to a Google Map of Reiver Gamers worldwide and let them find each other?

Mal said...

That is, convert existing, regular fans into True Fans.

Jack said...

Hiya Mal,

That's an interesting idea. I'd considered doing something along those lines (a Google map on the site) anyway, maybe that should be a part of the new site.



Hulken said...

You might also want to consider adding youre games to the nes website. So people can play them online at youre website, giving you more exposiur. Just like days of wonder have.

Also I have not notecd that you have made anny podcast prices of anny of youre games. This I atleast think is a nice way to get some exposiur. I have heard your egame mentiond on some of the podcasts I liten to but not so manny.

You could do somthing in the lline of "to win the sumeria boardgame you have to answer this question:" and give them a question about youre company and/or youre other games. That way you get exposiur fore the game thats the price and also for the othergames.

Also I´m a litle bit sad to hear that you have to go back to working a regular job. =(

But we both know it is only temporary ;) Keep the dream alive so we other can dream also. =)

Kevin said...

Raising above those noise is always the hardest part. I hear. (I haven't tried it yet myself.)

Sadly, I am not a great marketing mind. Once again, I would suggest listening to all the ThisWeekInStartups episodes.

Here are some ideas off the top of my head:

1) I wasn't able to find you on Facebook. Do you have a page there?

2) You have found that it is hard for people to find your games in regular game stores. So, make sure it is easy to get your games the way people want. If they have to ask a local store to order it, that is a barrier to entry. You want it to be as easy as possible. For instance, are you on Amazon's Marketplace? I order a lot of my games there and it may be a good venue for you to offer.

3) Sadly, my understanding is that it takes money to get money. So, while I am bummed to hear that you need funds from elsewhere, you might just need to go part time. I would just suggest not going full-time since that will take too much of your time. IT is a job that usually works well for consulting. Have you considered doing some consulting jobs? That might be best as it would be the least amount of time while still bringing in some money.
Anyway, you may have to consider doing some advertising on Board Game Geek or something, which means you need outside funds to fund it. Another idea would be to advertise on a retailer's site. For instance, Myriad Games is a retailer who also has podcasts. You may want to sponsor their podcasts and see if you can also get an ad on their site (as well as carried in their store).

5) What about doing a tournament with your games and filming it? With some good editing, you might be able to make some interesting You Tube videos.

6) What about doing some focus groups? Have you done that? Get some people together and have them play your games. Ask them what they like and don't like and what it would take to get them to buy a copy. You may need to take that feedback and change the games or develop completely new ones.

Once again, I am by no means an expert or even experienced. I am just throwing things at the wall.

7) Finally, what about reviews in visible places. (BGG just isn't visible unless you go right to it.) There are podcasters who you could send a copy to for review. Or there are some websites creeping up like

Jack said...


I'm working on a computerised version of Sumeria, which I could add to the new website in the future.

Several podcasts have mentioned my games, but I don't give them away as prizes (I've given quite a few away recently).


Lots of good ideas there. I've given review copies to BoardToDeath (and they've already reviewed Sumeria), I've also tried a few things recently to get into more US shops (Myriad both carry my games and have them in their game library) and they are available on Amazon.



Kevin said...

Hey Jack, I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately. I was going to post another comment, but it got too long. So, I put it on the blog I started recently (and am still just tinkering with). You can find the post dealing with this subject at

Jack said...

Hiya Kevin,

Thanks for getting involved in the conversation - I've commented on your post :)



the1jugg said...

Hey Jack,
Sorry to hear your sales aren't up where you need them to be. I've started hearing about Sumeria on the podcasts I listen to, and they had good things to say. Unfortuneately, your games aren't in the stores around here, so even though I hear good things, I can't pick up a copy. I assume that's happening to many of us. But if every one of your true fans, requested a copy of one of your games from their local FLGS, more distributors would have to start carrying them.

Jack said...

Hiya Jugg,

Yeah, getting my games into retailers has been one of the difficulties I've encountered. I've tried a few things recently which have helped, but there's still a lot of retailers who don't carry any of my games.