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Selling games at Cons

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koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009

Has anyone here gotten a dealer booth at a con and sold any of their games. I am considering doing this. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Hegemon
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Selling games at Cons

Yes, as I primarily sell military history games, I go to around 5 wargame shows a year. As a rule of thumb, I plan on doing around $1.00 of sales per paid head attending. So for a show with 1,000 paid attendees, my goal is to sell around $1,000.00 - say 30 to 40 games sold at $30.00 each. That sounds low I know, but you're actually getting a 3% to 4% "response rate" out of a random target audience - double what you might get sending out random advertisments in the mail.

Care must be taken when considering costs - booth fees, airfares and hotels and meals can add up. Going to the wrong type of show with your product (i.e. for me, a vampire LRGP theme show) is also very unproductive.

Having new product (or simply product) to sell is key to getting folks to stop and look. "You can't sell from an empty wagon" is an old retailing truth.

If you're by yourself, and the show is open for much of the day, don't drink a lot of fluids. 8-)

Sometimes it is more effective for one item game companies to band together and send one guy and have him represent the multiple firms. That way there's lots of different products on the table and you'll catch the eye of more people.

koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009
Selling games at Cons

It’s nice to hear from someone who is doing this. Thanks for youre responce.

I am working on a low production run of my game (100 games). I was thinking that selling at cons would be a good way to make up my initial production costs, get some retailers interested in carrying my game, and to get people playing it. I will have to do this several times before I can afford to do a good sized print run.

Have you had many retailers take interest in your product at these shows?

Zzzzz
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Joined: 06/20/2008
Selling games at Cons

Koshianok,

I have gone to a few cons, but also GenCON 5 times as an exhibitor. It is hard to sell your product among the *big boys*! Unless you have that something special, it is easy to get lost in the eye candy that all the other people will be exhibiting (and most of the eye candy has nothing to do with their games!! lol)

I would suggest starting off small, go to a few *smaller* CONs. It might give you a better chance to get the consumer market interested in your game. But of course these smaller CONs wont have as much retailer potential.

You can pull off GenCON, but it will take about $2000, depending on your travel option (we drove from NY to Indy). 100 copies of your game might be ok too, but I have had over 250+ copies sold one year. So you might run out, which I guess would be a good thing! Also 100 copies might not cover your expenses, if you care about that, not sure. I know when I attended, I did not care about the loss of expense money. Just the business contacts and exposure your games will get was worth the cost to me.

Not sure I helped much, but if you have more specific questions about attending GenCON as an exhibitor just ask and I will answer what I can!

Hegemon
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Selling games at Cons

Quote:
Have you had many retailers take interest in your product at these shows?

It's been my experience that retailers tend to come to only the larger shows, GenCon, Origins, the GAMA trade show in Vegas, for example. Again, in my experience, they are not overly interested in orphan game lines, they want to be able to order your product through their favorite distributor as part of their weekly phone-in order, and not cut a separate check to you.

I think shows are best thought of as ways to introduce your product and build word of mouth than trying to close the "big deal."

koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009
Selling games at Cons

I have a few more questions on the matter.

Would going to a con to sell a single product be advantageous for a small startup game company?

Should I sell the game at wholesale or retail prices?

Do dealers at cons actively demo their games at the booth?

Should I take some extra game related things (I am thinking about making some promo posters to display, and possibly even give some away) to the cons?

Right now I have a company name (I'm filing for my business license), and I have a well play-tested product that I am preparing to produce. What else do I need?

After selling my game at a few cons, what next?

Hegemon
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Selling games at Cons

Quote:
Would going to a con to sell a single product be advantageous for a small startup game company?

Yes, but you would either want to go to one of the bigger shows (to maximize eyeballs seeing you) or go to a smaller show that's all about your audience. Don't be afraid to cross-market. Let's say you have a serious train game. Think about going to a model railroading show and strut your stuff.

Quote:
Should I sell the game at wholesale or retail prices?

Retail. Or offer a "show special rate" of 20% off or something.

Quote:
Do dealers at cons actively demo their games at the booth?

Yes. Demo like mad if you're a "one trick pony" Put up a sign, "Next demo in 15 minutes," that sort of thing.

Quote:
Should I take some extra game related things (I am thinking about making some promo posters to display, and possibly even give some away) to the cons?

Yes, again. Make it easy for people to remember you and send you money after the show. Flyers, promo pieces with your website address on them, anything.

Quote:
Right now I have a company name (I'm filing for my business license), and I have a well play-tested product that I am preparing to produce. What else do I need?

After selling my game at a few cons, what next?

THOSE are questions for all the other folders on this board! 8-)

koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009
Selling games at Cons

Hegemon,

I sincerely appreciate the advice and the answers to my bazillion questions.

Thanks,

Zzzzz
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Joined: 06/20/2008
Selling games at Cons

Koshianok,

If you are intersted in a show like GenCON, there tend to be other exhibitors that like to share booth space and costs. This is one thing I would tell you to consider for any show, if you only have one product and want to reduce costs, seek out another exhibitor to share expenses!

I know that GenCON has a website to help promote sharing booths... might be worth a look.

koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009
Selling games at Cons

Zzzzz,

Thanks, I will start looking into that. It would be great to go to GenCon. However, I think I am going to start with a couple of smaller cons here in Texas first.

d3nial
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Joined: 07/30/2008
Willing to represent other games at cons?

So, for all of us who don't live in mainland USA or Europe, are there people on BGDF who would be willing to represent a game on behalf of its absent designer?

From my POV this would be incredibly useful seeing as I live in a small town in New Zealand and just cannot afford to get to one of the cons in the USA.

d3

Hegemon
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Selling games at Cons

Quote:
So, for all of us who don't live in mainland USA or Europe, are there people on BGDF who would be willing to represent a game on behalf of its absent designer?

This does happen all the time. For example I carry an Australian wargame line at shows I attend. I'm sure there are other such people out there but rather than engage in a purely mercenary transaction with them it may be a better investment to make some alliances with some other similar game manufacturers (who can get to know and like your game) and get links to your site posted on their sites. Then they can effectively promote your game at shows.

The scenario you want to avoid is someone who is simply carrying your game at a show and is asked a question, "Tell me about this."

"It's from New Zealand"

"Yes, but how does it play?"

"It's from New Zealand"

koshianok
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Joined: 01/28/2009
Selling games at Cons

I would do something like that in the future. I think I would want to get a couple shows under my belt first though.

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