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Key 20

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seiji
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Joined: 04/29/2009

Has anyone here used Key 20 for fulfillment services? If yes, what was your experience with them? I called them early last week, but I haven't heard back yet.

Also, how many copies of your game does Key 20 require? (I understand that Impressions requires 1,000 copies of your game).

Thanks!

Wingnut
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Key 20

seiji wrote:
(I understand that Impressions requires 1,000 copies of your game).
Thanks!

This is not true at all. We require no minimum as sales can never be guaranteed prior to shipping. There is nothing in our contract that states any sales minimum...it is really all subjective, but to the point so we can make money. We do have strict guidelines as sales for hobby games are really bad these days and new companies are having the hardest time breaking into distributors and retailers.

I am more than happy to speak with anyone about their game and its viability in the marketplace...this is what determines whether we work with someone or not. If you have not heard back from Key20 yet, then give me a shout.

I hope that clears things up.

seiji
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Joined: 04/29/2009
Re: Key 20

Aldo - My deepest apologies for my misunderstanding!

markg
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Key 20

Aldo,

Are you working for Key 20? I am very interested in hearing more of what your company does. My two partners and I have just received the first printing of our game and I would very much like to learn more.

Mark

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Key 20

As you might get from his signature, Aldo works for Impressions, not Key20. You might email him directly, their service is pretty cool for truly small publishers (it may be good for larger small publishers, it's been a few years since I spoke with them).

-- Matthew

markg
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Key 20

Thank you, Matthew!

I must have spaced out there for a moment. Been staring at the computer screen too long probably! LOL!

I would love to hear what kinds of experiences you guys have had with Impressions. My partners and I are complete newbies to all of this, so thanks in advance for keeping the kid gloves on!

Mark

Patriarch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Key 20

Wingnut wrote:
seiji wrote:
(I understand that Impressions requires 1,000 copies of your game).
Thanks!

This is not true at all. We require no minimum as sales can never be guaranteed prior to shipping. There is nothing in our contract that states any sales minimum...it is really all subjective, but to the point so we can make money. We do have strict guidelines as sales for hobby games are really bad these days and new companies are having the hardest time breaking into distributors and retailers.

I am more than happy to speak with anyone about their game and its viability in the marketplace...this is what determines whether we work with someone or not. If you have not heard back from Key20 yet, then give me a shout.

I hope that clears things up.

As someone considering burning alot of money on publishing a game, I would be VERY interested an elaboration of hobby games having a bad time. Any and all info will do :)

markg
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Key 20

Contacted Aldo and had a very nice corresondance with him. Very pleasant to chat with, but not yet interested in our game... perhaps because we are a yet-to-be-proven commodity, and I can appreciate that position.

Also sent email to Key 20 but no response....

Maybe it is my breath... I did have those onions for lunch....

Mark

Chad_Ellis
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Key 20

We currently do all our distribution through Aldo/Impressions. Aldo is a great guy with a lot of knowledge about the business.

A distribution consolidator, like Impressions, offers two main things. First, if they take your product you are automatically carried by a bunch of distributors, including the big ones. Small companies can otherwise spend a lot of time trying to convince Alliance and ACD to carry them and if they don't you'll often find that a store that is interested in your game won't carry it because their main distributor doesn't have it.

Second, because Impressions ships weekly and will ship single copies, they take a lot of the headache and cost out of distribution which you might only be able to do yourself by setting minimum volumes that would cost you sales.

To give you an idea of what this can mean, let's take a random month of sales of Succession: Intrigue in the Royal Court once the initial launch volumes were done. In February 2005 eight different distributors ordered a total of 38 copies, with no one distributor ordering more than 6.

Aldo charged us $97 to deliver that product. If we'd had to do it ourselves, we would have had to package 8 orders and either airmail or priority mail them to offer comparable service. But wait, there's more! That's the monthly total. When you break down the month, most of those orders were 1-2 units per week. If we were doing it ourselves we would either have had to try to push the distributors into only ordering case volumes (6 for Succession) or we would have had to ship close to 30 orders.

For us, it was a great deal. We were able to spend our time working on game development and creating customer demand rather than begging distributors to carry a new game from a new publisher and then spending tons of time and money (almost certainly more money than we paid Aldo) to ship games every week.

As was noted, both these services are more valuable to a small company than to a larger one. The math was very favorable with Succession; it's less so with Battleground, which has higher volumes and isn't following the normal path of declining sales post-launch. At some point, assuming Battleground continues to grow, it will make sense for us to take over our own distribution since the distributors already want our product and we can ship direct for less than Aldo's commission. One of the nice things about working with Aldo is that he recognizes that from the start so you don't have any wierdness about the potential ending of business.

One other downside to working through a consolidator is that while you don't waste time talking to distributors you also don't spend time talking to distributors unless you make yourself do it. One of the things I want to do over the next 3-6 months is get to know my distributors personally and develop more of a relationship with them so that when any retailer asks about our games they know exactly what is being talked about. I don't know exactly what's been lost by our not doing that, but it has to have cost us something.

Best,
Chad

Chad_Ellis
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Key 20

Patriarch wrote:
As someone considering burning alot of money on publishing a game, I would be VERY interested an elaboration of hobby games having a bad time. Any and all info will do :)

The hobby game market is under pressure. I'm not sure how much worse it is now than it has been in previous years, but times are definitely tough. Small press publishers have it worse when times are tough. (Heck, we have it worse all the time.) :)

I won't tell you not to do it -- I haven't regretted self-publishing for a second, even though we lost money on Succession and on Space Station Assault. Just go in with your eyes open and do as much as you possibly can to improve your odds of success before you launch.

RobBartel
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Key 20

Any thoughts on the use of a print-on-demand service like that now offered by Key 20 and Avalon? I can see how it greatly reduces the economic barriers to entry for small startups but what are the downsides? Does quality or quality control suffer? Is there a stigma attached to POD products like there is in the book world? Are the unit costs so high that they gobble up any potential profits, especially when wholesalers and consolidators take their cut? It's an interesting idea and I'd love to see it take off but, right now, it seems like a bit of a brave new world for the hobby games industry.

Rob

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