Monday, May 25

The Elephant In The Room

This post is being posted automagically while I'm on holiday in deepest, darkest Devon with the entirety of my fairly large family (14 of us! In one house!). It might take me a few days to respond to comments as I'm not sure if they have the internets in Devon yet.

So I'm getting back into hobby board game publishing as I'm sure you're all aware. I've got a game to publish (Zombology) and some startup funds and a business plan. Go me!

I've bravely decided to eschew KickStarter and just make a small hand-made run like I did in the early days of Reiver Games. I keep harping on about how I've done this before, and I know what I'm getting myself into, yadda, yadda. I've run the numbers and I think I can sell 150 copies at a reasonable price and yet still make enough money to cover my (non-time) costs and the overheads and hopefully have enough left to invest in potential future projects. I made 100 copies of Border Reivers (my first game) by hand and sold them all within a year and then 300 copies of It's Alive! by hand and sold those all within a year too. So 150 sounds pretty achievable, right?

The only thing is that I made Border Reivers in 2006 and It's Alive! in 2007. That's years ago. Literally. Since then, everything's changed. Back in the day there were only a few of us hobby publishers hand-crafting games in our basements/garages/living rooms. If you were a rabid collector of board games with a ton of money you'd won at the casino there weren't that many options to get your hobby publisher fix so by just being there and talking on BGG occasionally, I made a surprising number of sales.

KickStarter changed all that. Now everyone can pitch their hobby game to a room full of people who've just splashed out on something similar. If you want to support the independent hobby publisher which of the 1,500 KickStarter projects you've heard about in the last month are you going to back? All of them? Probably not.

When you've got KickStarter projects up the wazoo all of which have funded on day 3 of 30 and hit the stretch goals that means the components are linen-finished and the artwork was done by Banksy and the game pieces are made of real gold and stone and steel and wood and it comes with miniatures and expansions and the moon on a stick, why would you spend more money on yet another game?Especially one that's been hand-crafted by an idiot and illustrated by the same and the components are cut out by hand and made of paper and card and not even gold inlaid, linen finished card?

There's the question. Is there still a market for my handmade games? Is it big enough for a print run of 150 copies? We'll soon find out...


GamesBook said...

Maybe consider if there is room in the plan for a "deluxe" version? Eg. get a set of cards printed by Artscow. This could be 10 or 12 sets that you well sell at a premium. Its also worth thinking about charging a pound or three for a print-and-play version. These types of options should not be that much extra work (??) and extend the perceived offering of the game.

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Derek,

I'd not considered either of those options. Definitely working thinking about. One of the things I like about not going do the KickStarter route is that everyone gets the same thing and there's no stretch goals, it is what it is and you either buy it or you don't. But maybe I need to adapt to the changing marketplace and provide at least some options...