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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

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Yekrats
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Just so you folks, know: I just got an email from Mike Petty of Fair Play Games that they are ceasing their Independent Design Program. The IDP was a special deal for indie designers to sell games on a consignment basis in their on-line store. It seemed like the game evaluation and the paperwork was a bit too much to take care of. Now, anyone selling independent designs there will have to be sold like all other retail games.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Mike is an indie designer himself, and has helped with Protospiel in past years. If you've got an independent design you want to sell, I would still talk to Fair Play. Like always, there's no guarantee, but Mike is "one of us" and they may give you a try when others may not.

So, while not necessarily "bad," it is a change.

-- Scott S.

phpbbadmin
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Ouch

Hmm that is a slight bummer, although I understand why Mike did what he did and can't fault him for it. I imagine that running Fair Play takes a lot of time and energy and I imagine those folks have 'day jobs' too which makes things even more time critical. At any rate, It was good while it lasted. Hopefully as you stated Yekrats, he will still be susceptable to working with indie designers, even if it's not on an official basis.

Thanks for the info!
-Darke

jwarrend
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Re: Ouch

Darkehorse wrote:
Hopefully as you stated Yekrats, he will still be susceptable to working with indie designers, even if it's not on an official basis.

Perhaps you meant "amenable" to working with indie designers? Susceptible suggests that we're trying to hoodwink him!

(just giving you a hard time on a Monday morning...)

-Jeff

Oracle
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

I've been considering building a web store just to sell indie board games.

One of the main reasons I haven't is it's been discussed on BGDF and I don't want to steal anyone's idea.

Maybe with the loss of the ability to sell on FPG, it's a good time to resurrect the idea.

Jason

update: take a look at http://jason.profquotes.com/gamestore for a look at at a very rough prototype.

At this point, I haven't even started coding the logic for the site, I'm working on the look and feel first. Since the logic end is my strong suit and not cosmetics, I'm hoping to get a lot of input on the appearance from here.

Aerjen
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Well, I for one, would certainly encourage an initiative like yours. So if nobody screams murder for stealing their idea I would go for it. I'm quite interested in the setup. Why would it be bad for two persons (or even more) to make a web store just to sell indie board games. I think there's no harm in it, especially if you help eachother out. In my opinion there's more to be gained from cooperating than from opposing eachother.

Anonymous
Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

I think that'd be a great idea, as long as you could work out an amenable agreement with the indie designers. Gotta make sure they're reliable, natch. :)

Matt

Dralius
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Quote:
I've been considering building a web store just to sell indie board games.

Please let us know when you get this up and running. I will be glad to link to you from my web site and point your site out to anyone and everyone i know who plays games.

P.S. Will you sell on a consignment basis?

Oracle
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Dralius wrote:
Please let us know when you get this up and running. I will be glad to link to you from my web site and point your site out to anyone and everyone i know who plays games.

P.S. Will you sell on a consignment basis?

Thanks for offering the link.

I wasn't planning on a consignment basis. I was thinking that I list the games and take the orders and then forward the orders to the game owners who ship them.

I'd consider a consignment basis as well (maybe have both options available and let the designer choose).

MattNelson wrote:
I think that'd be a great idea, as long as you could work out an amenable agreement with the indie designers. Gotta make sure they're reliable, natch.

It's hard to know what a fair agreement is at this point. At the beginning, I won't have very many visitors and I'll need a lot of games to attract customers, so I'd list the games for free and probably charge a comission on each sale.

Reliability will be a problem as the site grows. If there's a lot of bad games listed or designers who take a long time to ship or don't fill orders it will hurt the site's reputation.

Selling on consignment would solve a lot of those problems if I want to do the extra work, and I will have a funagain style rating/review system.

Jason

Oracle
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Current Status

I've started adding logic to the site.

You can now submit games and they will show up in the category lists.

There is no detailed page view yet, but that's what I plan to work on tomorrow.

Feel free to add some games to the site (I can use the test data), but don't put a lot of effort into posting your game. This data won't be copied to the final site.

The live site won't allow people to submit games right onto the site for obvious reasons.

Jason

Torrent
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Just a random idea. If you are worried about quality, you could request the following. If a game designer wanted to sell through your outlet, he/she could submit one copy of the game to you for playing. This allows you several things: the ability to see the game and make good descriptions, the ability to play a lot of neat stuff, and the way to do some standardized pictures. You could even do some sort of review.

It is sort of like a game store here that on every stack of games has one open one that isn't really for sale for people to look at. I don't know how game designers would take that though. Maybe for certain level of service this is the requirement.

What do you mean by consignment? That you have a pile of games from various authors in your garage and just do the shipping for orders, then paying the game designer some portion of this? The other side of letting authors do their own shipping sounds alot more like Amazon's zShops. The downfall for that is that the customer would have to pay shipping per author not really per order. The Shop's sort of thing isn't really bad, nor is it actually mutually exclusive from the consignment idea. I think part of it comes with how much time and energy you are willing to put into this?

I'm not sure how many indie designers sell stuff direct from their personal websites. At the beginning, just sort of a list of those might be interesting. Atleast to give an idea what is out there.

Andy

Oracle
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Torrent wrote:
If you are worried about quality, you could request the following. If a game designer wanted to sell through your outlet, he/she could submit one copy of the game to you for playing.

This is a good idea that I've been considering. A problem that I'm not a complete authority on what makes a good game. For example, I like the Kosmos 2-player series, and I have about 8 of them, but I hate Lost Cities, so I probably would have thought it's not worth trying to sell. But Lost Cities is one of the more popular games in the series.

Overall, I do like the idea though.

Torrent wrote:
It is sort of like a game store here that on every stack of games has one open one that isn't really for sale for people to look at. I don't know how game designers would take that though. Maybe for certain level of service this is the requirement.

I always thought the store was out the money for their demo copies, not the publisher. Anyway, it does seem like it would discourage people from selling through me if I demand a free copy of each item.

Torrent wrote:
What do you mean by consignment? That you have a pile of games from various authors in your garage and just do the shipping for orders, then paying the game designer some portion of this?

Exactly.

Torrent wrote:
The other side of letting authors do their own shipping sounds alot more like Amazon's zShops. The downfall for that is that the customer would have to pay shipping per author not really per order.

The combined shipping is more powerful than it seems. I just got WarCraft from funagain. It was $32, and I ended up spending well over $100 just to take advantage of combined shipping. I think it's quite likely a customer will find something they just have to have and then if they can combine shipping they'll add a few more items.

Torrent wrote:
The Shop's sort of thing isn't really bad, nor is it actually mutually exclusive from the consignment idea. I think part of it comes with how much time and energy you are willing to put into this?

I did say I would consider giving the designers a choice of doing it both ways. Either they pay a fairly small amount as a monthly fee and then I direct the orders to them or they pay what works out to a much larger percentage for me to take care of everything. A game that only sells a few copies a month would be better (for the designer) to be by consignment.

Torrent wrote:
I'm not sure how many indie designers sell stuff direct from their personal websites. At the beginning, just sort of a list of those might be interesting. Atleast to give an idea what is out there.

The problem with personal websites is getting people to be aware of them, and that's what I'm trying to address.

Thanks for your comments. It's good to know I have support from people here.

Jason

Anonymous
Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

When this idea came about, I was thinking... "Cool! An ordertaker!"
But I do see the "combined shipping" thing being a factor... then again, if I put 5 or so of my games on the site, people can buy all 5 of MINE and save on shipping! :)

But really... I don't sell on my own site... quite frankly because I'm too busy with life/designing games to worry about an internet site. So if someone were willing to do it for me, I'd be all about it... and that means consignment.

Whichever. :)

Tyler

Torrent
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Quote:
I always thought the store was out the money for their demo copies, not the publisher. Anyway, it does seem like it would discourage people from selling through me if I demand a free copy of each item.
I think you are right, most stores that do that do eat the price of that game. At my home game shop, I was talking to one of the guys that works there. His hope was to see the place make enough profit to be able to have a group of 'demo' games that they coudl play with the staff. Then the staff could recommend them and even show them to customers.

I don't think publishers eat the cost of demo games at some level because there are a lot of stores, meaning lots of demo copies. I wonder if it was one site if it would be more palatable to the indie designer. The problem would be 'bad' reviews. If you took a free game of say Lost Cities(example because you said you didnt like it) and decided to review it, then you might get an angry supplier/designer. Maybe it won't work, but it could be an interesting idea. Especially if you had the time/interest and somehow sold the idea of it as a way to get independant playtesting. I dunno. Random ideas before breakfast.

Andy

FastLearner
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Oracle wrote:
I did say I would consider giving the designers a choice of doing it both ways. Either they pay a fairly small amount as a monthly fee and then I direct the orders to them or they pay what works out to a much larger percentage for me to take care of everything. A game that only sells a few copies a month would be better (for the designer) to be by consignment.

I suspect that a mix has the potential to be quite problematic for the customer. "Wait, if I add this one to my cart then I can combine shipping, but when I add this one shipping goes up a whole bunch? What gives?"

In addition, unless you use a consignment system only then the site is at a big risk of some designers not "coming through" with the games in a timely fashion. If a customer orders 3 things and one of them gets there in 3 days, one in 9 days, and one never arrives, do you think he'll blame the designer/publisher or the store? No matter how many notic.es you put up, I'm certain he'll blame the store.

The other plus of consignment is the stock issue. If designer/publisher Bob runs out of, say, wooden flower pots and can't find any more, it's much better that he simply can't ship more copies to you for your inventory than him not being able to ship them to the customer (resulting in another refund and another unhappy customer who posts his negative experience to Spielfrieks). That way if you have 3 in stock to sell then you can sell 3, period, and no one will be able to erroneously order a fourth copy.

Also with consignment you can reasonably use the "we don't charge you until we ship the games" system, rather than charging them up front, something that 'net customers are very accustomed to.

Which reminds me, how will you handle credit cards and such? Have you worked through the potential tax issues (how to file to indicate that all of that money coming into your account -- PayPal or bank account or whatever -- isn't actually your money that you need to pay income taxes on)? Do you have any insurance to protect you from lawsuits, either by customers or designer/publishers? Do you have good consignment (or non-consignment) contracts worked out? What happens if your garage burns to the ground? It's the items in this paragraph that kept me from doing this, and that kept me from trying to set it up for the BGDF.

Don't let that last paragraph discourage you, mind you: I'd love to see this site in action. I just wanted to make sure you thought through that stuff.

-- Matthew

phpbbadmin
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A couple of thoughts

As for quality of games:

Require the designers to submit pictures of the game that they will be selling as well as either a snipit of the rules or the entire rulebook. I think you can get a very good idea of the quality of the game just by looking at these two items. In reality, you wouldn't be concerned with how fun the game was, as you stated that's entirely subjective. What you are really concerned about is the quality of the components and how professionally the game is presented. It's not up to you to be the game police. There are plenty of games on the shelves of Walmart that suck but they are still selling and they still look nice. Your main interest is to protect the consumer from inferior quality products and protect the site's reputation for selling quality games. Also I would encourage the designers to submit their games to Board Game Geek and include a link to the Geek listing of their game. It would be a good idea for the designers to ask people who have played the game to login to geek and rate/review/comment on it. All of the good Internet game stores take advantage of this feature.

As for consignment versus direct ship: I for one would be hesitant to keep anything 'in stock' and then ship the items from your own location. There are a couple of reasons for this: First, the item will have to be shipped twice; once to you from the designer and once from you to the consumer. Yes this is pretty much the industry standard but at this level, I think any cut in costs will prove benificial. Any games that are self produced (for example, Brykovian's Castle Danger) are very costly and very little profit is made. Any cut in costs will go a long way towards making the game feasible to sell. Second, unless you have a basement with a lot of space, and a lot of extra free time, then it's probably not practical for you (assuming one day the volume of sales from the site reach a decent level). Even if you sell only 5 games a week, you have to consider how long it will take to package the items and the trips to the post office (but if you do go this route, I recommend a once a week shipping schedule, I.E. all games ship on Saturday no matter which day of the week they were ordered on).

What you may want to do is sell things on Escrow. Basically setup a paypal account, when someone purchases something the money goes to you. You send the e-mail to the designer confirming you received the the funds, the designer ships the item with delivery confirmation. As soon as the game is delivered, fire off an e-mail to the buyer stating the game was delivered. Wait a few days, if no problems then deposit the money into the designers account. It's safe for all parties involved and you don't have to stock/ship anything. You might even want to do this for only the first few times for a new designer. After they have established they are trustworthy, then you allow them to recieve payments directly from the customers.

That's all the thoughts I have now. Again, I look forward to helping you out in any means possible with this project.
-Darke

Torrent
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Quote:
What you may want to do is sell things on Escrow. Basically setup a paypal account, when someone purchases something the money goes to you. You send the e-mail to the designer confirming you received the the funds, the designer ships the item with delivery confirmation. As soon as the game is delivered, fire off an e-mail to the buyer stating the game was delivered. Wait a few days, if no problems then deposit the money into the designers account. It's safe for all parties involved and you don't have to stock/ship anything. You might even want to do this for only the first few times for a new designer. After they have established they are trustworthy, then you allow them to recieve payments directly from the customers.

I believe this is the way Half.com works (or atleast used to). The one issue you would have to have good policies on is disputes. If the customer complains he never got it and the designer claims it was shipped, you have to have some policy surrounding that. Returns as well. I know this is all in the early stage, but the moment you talk about being a middle-man in a sale, you get issues that you have to deal with.

What you might think about is doing an Indie-Marketplace thing, where you are just linking designers and customers through a central site that has a standardized interface. You do just some sort of screening process on your designers/designs to make sure you have 'good' high-quality games.

Andy

FastLearner
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

A marketplace is a lot safer. No combined shipping, but you run much less risk of having the whole store look bad because of one failed sale. You'd need to charge a periodic "listing fee" in the case of a marketplace, I'd think.

-- Matthew

setarcos
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Jason,

You might consider just listing the games by designer and letting your site serve as a link from the customer to the indie designer's site (or his/her email). Then the sale (and any problems) would be between the customer and them. It would solve any issue of consignment vs. direct sales and head off the liability concerns for you as well.

Just an idea,

Leland

Anonymous
Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

I agree with Setarcos that a "BoardGameGeek" for Indi games would be the safest way to go...

...but also, I'm too lazy to set up the webspace to sell my games. :)

Shucks, hate those catch 22s.

Tyler

setarcos
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Tyler,

You could just set up an email account to receive orders from Jason's site. He would still show photos and descriptions of your game(s) along with the rules and any reviews etc. for the customer. When the viewer clicked on "buy", an order would be forwarded to you. It probably would be desirable to some to also have their own web-site that could be linked to from Jason's "store" though.

BTW: Jason, thanks a zillion for even considering such an undertaking. Whatever form your site ends up taking, it's going to be a God-send for all the indie designers who use it.

-Leland

Oracle
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Random_Person wrote:
But really... I don't sell on my own site... quite frankly because I'm too busy with life/designing games to worry about an internet site. So if someone were willing to do it for me, I'd be all about it... and that means consignment.

As was suggested, I could simply email you that someone ordered it and what their shipping address is and send the money through paypal.

FastLearner wrote:
I suspect that a mix has the potential to be quite problematic for the customer. "Wait, if I add this one to my cart then I can combine shipping, but when I add this one shipping goes up a whole bunch? What gives?"

That is a good arguement for just doing one method, and based on the other comments on this thread, it sounds like I'm slightly better off going with the designer ships method.

Both methods have a lot of pros and cons that have been mentioned, but it seems like the big ones are the reliability of sellers if it's not on consignment vs the extra liability, storage space, tax issues, and shipping costs if I do it by consignment.

FastLearner wrote:
Which reminds me, how will you handle credit cards and such?

I would use paypal for that. They even have a fairly basic shopping cart web ap that looks like it can do the job. I'm using it to sell T-Shirts on my ProfQuotes web site and that works quite well, though with only a single item, I don't use many shopping cart features.

The tax software I use has small business features (which I've never used), but it seems to just be plug in the numbers and it creates the forms.

Insurance is a good point, and likely not possible for a website generating a few dollars a month. What do indie designers who sell games on their own sites do about the possibility of being sued?

Darkehorse wrote:
Also I would encourage the designers to submit their games to Board Game Geek and include a link to the Geek listing of their game.

I'd thought of using a link to BGG if there was already a listing there. I didn't know you could submit your own listings. So far, I just lurk there and I haven't created an accout.

Darkehorse wrote:
There are a couple of reasons for this: First, the item will have to be shipped twice; once to you from the designer and once from you to the consumer.
...
Second, unless you have a basement with a lot of space, and a lot of extra free time, then it's probably not practical for you (assuming one day the volume of sales from the site reach a decent level).

I think it would be around $10 to ship 5 copies depending on how big the game is, so it would basically add $2 to the selling price (or more to the point, decrease the designer's income by $2/copy). This could be a major issue for designers.

The key to your second issue is I have to charge enough to make it practical for me. Normal retail markup is 50% of the retail price. To make it practical (and cover paypal/webhosting fees), I might have to charge 30-40%. So if I sell it for $20, the designer would get $12-$14. I don't know if this would be reasonable for the designer.

Torrent wrote:
What you might think about is doing an Indie-Marketplace thing, where you are just linking designers and customers through a central site that has a standardized interface. You do just some sort of screening process on your designers/designs to make sure you have 'good' high-quality games.

This is the other end of the Consignment spectrum. Since it's a lot easier for me, it might be the direction to go to start. Once it's established, I can expand into more of a store.

The marketplace idea does raise a question of fees. What is a reasonable monthly listing fee to charge the designers? At the beginning I'll have very few customers, so I can't really charge anything. If it's free for the first 6 months, then I decide I've got enough customers and introduce a $10 or $20/month fee, that could put off a lot of designers. I'd also want to charge a lot less for bgdf members, but I wouldn't want to get into a situation where people just sign up here for the listing discount.

If I charge 30% of the selling price on a consignment basis, it doesn't really matter if I sell 1 copy or 50, the designer is still getting the same value, so it's reasonable to start with that fee because if I don't have enough customers to sell any games, it doesn't cost the designers anything except their consignment copies sitting in my closet for another month.

FastLearner wrote:
A marketplace is a lot safer.

I thought it was the other way around. If I'm only listing games I physically have, and I'm responsible for shipping, there shouldn't be any failed sales making the site look bad.

If it's a market place, failed sales could lead to the reputation that it's hit or miss depending on what kind of designer you get.

Random_Person wrote:
...but also, I'm too lazy to set up the webspace to sell my games.

What if you have a page on my site with your game description and a "buy" button that takes the person to paypal and fills in all the information. They just have to click "pay" and the money is transfered from them directly to you and you get an email from paypal with their shipping address?

Jason

FastLearner
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Oracle wrote:
FastLearner wrote:
A marketplace is a lot safer.

I thought it was the other way around. If I'm only listing games I physically have, and I'm responsible for shipping, there shouldn't be any failed sales making the site look bad.

If it's a market place, failed sales could lead to the reputation that it's hit or miss depending on what kind of designer you get.
Sorry I wasn't clear; I meant "a lot safer for you personally." I agree that consignment is a lot safer for the potential success of the store.

-- Matthew

Oracle
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Once the DNS propagates (which will take about 24 hours), the independant game store will be live at indieboardgames.com.

Sorry if this posting isn't clear or sounds abrupt, it's 2:30 in the morning and I've been working on the site for several hours. I'm just anxious to get the ball rolling. It's a lot of fun seeing the site take shape :).

If you want your game listed, please send an email to me at ibg-submission@profquotes.com (The way I set up the domain name I don't get any email addresses).

Clearly state the game's title, the designer's name, the number of players, estimated game length, target age range, and the retail price. Also tell me which category in which you want the game listed. So far, I have Strategy Games, Classic Games, Party Games, and Family games. I'm open to new categories as well.

Then include the description of your game for the detail page. HTML formatting is welcome.

For now there's no submission guidelines. I plan to add them soon. The games should be professionally made; at least cheapass quality.

Once I have 10 or so games listed I'll start trying to get visitors. Is the BGG text ad worthwhile?

Eventually (but almost certainly not for the next few months) there will be listing fees. Based on what people have said here, I might also want to ask for review copies of the games.

Of course comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Jason

Dralius
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

I am still not clear on one thing. Are you going to be a game listing linking to the designers website or a P.O.S. (Point of Sale)?

Eventually you will have more games than can be quickly browsed through. Once the IGS gets that big a feature allowing customers to search for games by cost, # of players, Designer, Manufacturer and length or game as well as by game type would be something that even the big listings have fallen short on.

Oracle
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Fair Play Games ends "Indie Designers Program"

Dralius wrote:
I am still not clear on one thing. Are you going to be a game listing linking to the designers website or a P.O.S. (Point of Sale)?

For the time being it will just be a listing either linking to the designers website or acting as the designers website if they don't have one.

That might change as the site grows if there's enough demand for me to sell directly.

Dralius wrote:
Eventually you will have more games than can be quickly browsed through. Once the IGS gets that big a feature allowing customers to search for games by cost, # of players, Designer, Manufacturer and length or game as well as by game type would be something that even the big listings have fallen short on.

That's a good idea, and I will add it before it becomes necessary. For now, I'd rather get the site going sooner instead of spending a few weeks writing features that aren't needed quite yet.

Darke suggests I just make all the info avaialble as an XML file so the users can do their own searches.

Jason

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