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How do I sell a game to retailers??

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Anonymous

Lets say I have invented a game, the game is done and is completely packedged etc and I have preoduced 500 copies of this game. How would I approch retailers to have them sell my game?

dr_Edge69
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How do I sell a game to retailers??

I think a good way is to go to send them a free copy of your game for testing, some specialised game store really choose the game they will sell, by playing them.

rkalajian
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How do I sell a game to retailers??

I wouldn't take my advice with anything but a grain of salt, but I always thought that playing your game publically in a store with playspace to generate interest would aid in a store wanting to purchace your game.

phpbbadmin
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...

Please be aware that a lot of retailers won't even talk to independent sellers; they only buy games from their distributors. So possibly what you might want to ask yourself is how do I sell to distributors. Do a forum search for distributor to get a little more information. Also you may want to look into getting an agent. Do a search for that as well.

Oh as for large retailers like Toys R'us, Walmart, Target, you can almost forget trying to get shelf space there unfortunately. There's a lot of politics involved, and I think all of the chains determine their products via their national corporate offices.

Good luck!

-Michael

IngredientX
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Re: How do I sell a game to retailers??

GeZe wrote:
Lets say I have invented a game, the game is done and is completely packedged etc and I have preoduced 500 copies of this game. How would I approch retailers to have them sell my game?

Disclaimer: As a "hobbyist designer", I have never attempted to sell my games, and I don't plan to in the immediate or intermediate future. Please take all my advice with appropriate amounts of salt, and trust advice from experienced people. Having said that...

You have two choices. First, you can go from retailer to retailer, demoing your game and offering them to sell it. Most of them will reject it; some may refuse to even hear your demos. This is because managers of game stores may not have a great deal of time, and they feel that if you don't have a professional enough product to send to a distributor, they will probably not stand to make money off of it, and their shelf space may be better suited for a Monopoly clone, or something they know has a definite sales history.

Of course, this isn't to say that your game isn't sellable. I know nothing about your game, and it may be fantastic. But understand that retailers are going to view your game with a lot of skepticism. And justifiably so - if they don't make money off your game, it directly hurts them. They would rather go with something "proven" than something that, for all they know, will sit on a shelf and collect dust before heading for clearance to be sold for cost or a loss.

Most likely, if they do decide to sell your stuff, they will sell it through consignment. This means that you will receive no money up front from your games. The retailer will offer your games for sale (from what I understand, usually pushed back onto a remote shelf), and you will split any money from sales, with the retailer getting a generous percentage. After a predetermined amount of time, any unsold games (possibly all of them) will be returned to you. The only loss the retailer incurs is the shelf space that may have been used to sell a game with a more proven sales record.

You will probably have to go to A LOT of retailers to get some consignment nibbles. Or maybe a bunch of them will jump at the opportunity. I don't know, because I've never tried it; but if I were you, I'd anticipate having to do a lot of pavement-pounding.

Your other option is going through a distributor. I don't know the names of any distributors off the top of my head, nor do I know how easy or hard it is to get them to carry your games. I'd imagine that the more professional your product appears (good box design, UPC code, and so on), the more likely you'll get them to carry your games.

If you do go through a distributor or two (or three), you'll sell them a bunch of your games at (I believe) 40% off. They then sell the games to the retailers for a smaller percentage, and the retailers sell the games for full price. 40% is a lot (and that may be low), but keep in mind that distributors know A LOT of game stores, and all those game stores trust their distributors more than a new, unknown game publisher coming through the door.

Again, no disrespect intended. It's just that when dealing with money, businesses, and stores that need to stay in the black to remain open, people will usually be averse to risks unless the reward is probable and substantial.

Best of luck!

OrlandoPat
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Different answers

There are different answers to this, depending who you talk to, but IMHO, the ending answer is pretty straightforward.

First, you have five basic options for selling your game:
1) Sell to customers
2) Sell to retailers who sell to customers
3) Sell to representatives who sell to retailers
4) Sell to distributors who sell to retailers
5) Sell to consolidators who sell to distributors

As you go down the hierarchy, you lose margin, but the overall process becomes less time-consuming (because you personally have less people to sell to).

The big challenge with everyone is convincing them that your game is worth their time, money and risk. The farther down the hierarchy, the more risk is involved, so the tougher the sale is. You basically have two options for selling:

1) Convince them the game is great. This means getting good reviews, doing personal demos, sending evaluation copies, or some combination of these three. Cons are good for all three of these, because people are there to see the games, and you'll hit multiple people at once. Magazine ads are nice, but no retailer I've encountered will buy based on an ad. They will, however, request more information - which is a nice opening.

2) Get a success story to point to. Basically, this means performing option 1 on some local stores, and getting them to carry the game. Get the game to sell well, and then take this success story to other retailers and so on. You can also get a success story at a con (like HexHex did for its launch, or SiegeStones at ToyFair), but these are a bit rarer because it's tougher to convince people that a con was a "success".

Really, it boils down to using the Force of Your Will to convince them to buy your games. There's no easy answer. Basically, you just have to get out there and start doing demos, promotions, and obscure Jedi mind tricks.

Anonymous
How do I sell a game to retailers??

what would you do if you were sort of 13 years old and becuase of that you can't meet people face to face becuase they won't take you seriosly?

Brykovian
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How do I sell a game to retailers??

GeZe wrote:
what would you do if you were sort of 13 years old and becuase of that you can't meet people face to face becuase they won't take you seriosly?

Find an adult -- preferably someone who's done some work in sales or marketing -- to help you out. Friend, family member, someone one of your parents knows from work, someone from a church or other community organization that you're part of ...

First, you'll need to "sell" that adult on your product. Then, that person will still need to help you accomplish the things listed above.

-Bryk

Anonymous
How do I sell a game to retailers??

I'd like to add a point 0) to OrlandoPat's post:

0) Convince the retailer/distributor that the product will sell _regardless_of_whether_or_not_the_product_is_crap_.

_Every_ game in a game store is great; just ask the guy who sold it to the retailer in the 1st place. Retailer's aren't interested in great games; they are interested in product that moves. When the day comes that the local newspaper reviews games the way it does books and movies, then a game can stand on it's own merits in a retailer's eyes. Until then, you must show the retailer how the game sells itself. Literally; a retailer wants to know how little work he will have to do to get his money back.

Getting a popular license or having a massive marketing campaign that includes convention saturation, advertising, freebies, promotions, &c., is sometimes enough. Of course, that's major cash. The tired and true way to get onto retailers shelves is to sell the game for years out of the trunk of your car and at every podunk convention you can drive (or be driven) to; when you can show sales (500+ units sold is a start), distributors and retailers start to be interested. These are a risk-adverse people.

There are many instances where this rule 0 was broken, and broken large; Trivual Pursuit (which, like Twister, got national exposure on Carson), Settlers of Catan (a game that actually sells on it's merits!), &c. So it can be done, but don't count on it unless you are king of the next generation of guerilla marketers.

Selling on consignment has been floated on an industry-list recently (which shows you how hurting the industry is). This reduces the retailers risk, which may make him more conducive.

Well, I don't want to end on a negative note.

Get the game played in the store; it's crucial. Buy some pizzas and have a "My Game Night" (split the cost w/the retailer if you can). Set up a tournament with prizes (go in halves on some store gift certificates). Set up the tables on the sidewalk outside. Have your friends come by and act like they are having a blast.

But before you ever do anything commercial with your game, give yourself a pat on the back; you did something really cool! That puts you ahead of most people in life. Don't let the vagaries and grim realities of commerce rob you of that good feeling you've _earned_.

Anonymous
How do I sell a game to retailers??

Thompson wrote:
But before you ever do anything commercial with your game, give yourself a pat on the back; you did something really cool! That puts you ahead of most people in life.

I'll second that! It's is a great accomplishment that you have 500 copies of your game to sell!! If you're 13, then you also have the added advantage in that you're probably not incorporated and probably not in a hurry to sell all of your game copies before the end of the financial year.

Take your time and do it right. As Zzzz said in this thread, "think BIG, but start off small."

Being that you're 13, did you have the copies made by professional printers? Did you make them yourself on the computer? Are they Rio Grande quality or more along the lines of Alien Menace/Cheapass games? That may make a big difference in how you approach customers/retailers.

Quote:
Selling on consignment has been floated on an industry-list recently (which shows you how hurting the industry is). This reduces the retailers risk, which may make him more conducive.

This may be your best bet to start off with. Just remember, you've got the time, take it one step at a time and see where it goes.

Anonymous
How do I sell a game to retailers??

Quote:

Being that you're 13, did you have the copies made by professional printers? Did you make them yourself on the computer? Are they Rio Grande quality or more along the lines of Alien Menace/Cheapass games? That may make a big difference in how you approach customers/retailers.

I'm just thinking ahead, I'm almost done the rules. And I'll probebly get an artist to draw the stuff.

IngredientX
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How do I sell a game to retailers??

GeZe wrote:
I'm just thinking ahead, I'm almost done the rules. And I'll probebly get an artist to draw the stuff.

If you've read the boards to any extent, you probably already know this...

But if you haven't done any playtesting yet, drop EVERYTHING. Drop the merchandising, manufacturing, you name it. Make a cheap copy of the game. Playtest it over and over again. You need to make a cheap copy because you will be changing the rules. Maybe you'll only have to make small changes; but you'll probably have to make quite a few significant alterations.

There's no problem in getting the rules down at this point, but understand that they will probably be completely different after the first few playtests. Be prepared to rewrite them.

Find as many people as you can to playtest. I solo playtest my games before I let anyone else try them, but everyone's different. The more playtests you run the game through, the more you will know about it.

It's not an easy process, and you may have to "kill your baby." I know I've tossed at least three full-fledged designs into the trash, and I've only been doing this a couple of years!

But if your playtesters keep asking where to buy the game, and ask to play it whenever they see you, then you know you might just have something that will sell.

Good luck!

FastLearner
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How do I sell a game to retailers??

And once you've playtested the heck out of it, if you're planning on publishing it yourself you really need to blind playtest it prior to production. That means giving complete mocked-up games with the final rules to groups of people who have never played it before (and ideally who don't know you) and seeing if they can figure it out and enjoy it on their own.

There have been quite a few small-run (and even large-run) games published where people who purchased it simply can't figure it out without the designer on hand. And that would be throwing away a lot of money.

-- MatthewF

OrlandoPat
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Joined: 10/16/2008
The problem of age...

As with everyone else, I cannot overemphasize the importance of playtesting. Don't shoot yourself in the foot with playtesting, though. Start playtesting with people who want to like the game. Yourself, your family, your friends, and so on. During this phase, your job is to focus on the game itself. Does it work? How do they react to it? Do you personally like the way it plays? Once you're past there, then you have to move on to people who don't want to like the game. I'm only saying this because I've seen a fair number of decent games get shot down at public playtest sessions. The designer leaves feeling totally dejected, without having had a chance to see the strength of his design.

Okay, that's my cautionary peptalk. You're worried about your age, and that's valid. However, it's also a real advantage. I posted before about creating a success story and then selling based on that. IMHO, that's your key.

First of all get an adult. You're going to need one. If for nothing else than for signing contracts. Sorry about that, but it's just the way it is.

However, there's also good news. If you're 13, you have an automatic "in" with a whole segment of the population. Once your game is ready (and not before), hit the student organizations and your school. Run your games in schools. Give out a few (very few) free copies. If you can get kids playing, especially at the local game stores, you're almost there. If a retailer sees a lot of kids playing games at his store, and then discovers that game was designed by a local "kid"... well he'd have to be insane not to see the potential. When he sells your game, he's not only making money, he's supporting his community. It's a huge win for the retailer. At that point (if you can get there), you've got your success story to build on.

Anonymous
How do I sell a game to retailers??

I havn't started producing the game. I was just thinking ahead. I am planning to have my first play-test next week. And thanks for the advice!

Anonymous
How do I sell a game to retailers??

Good luck on your project!! May I suggest, since your rules are almost done, that you take advantage of one of the open slots in the Game Designer Workshop. Having recently submitted a game, I can tell you first hand that it is a great opportunity to have other game designers look over your game and provide very valuable feedback. Especially if your game hasn't gone through a lot of playtests yet. It's a great way to get some informed feedback.

Of course it's a quid-pro-quo deal whereby you would be expected to look over and provide feedback on other's games. There are some open slots at the end of August, that would get you in with some opportunities to look over some other designers games in the meantime.

Think it over, it's a great way to get some feedback and possibly some suggestions in areas that you may not have thought about.

Anonymous
Thanks

Well, I'm just getting into Board Game creation and this is the first set of posts I've read. I'm excited! Thanks to all who posted here, I have really enjoyed reading the responses. I look forward to digging through the forums over the next few weeks, so I can get up-to-speed with this fascinating hobby.

FastLearner
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How do I sell a game to retailers??

Welcome to the site!

-- Matthew

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