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Getting stores to sell your game

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questccg
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I humbly appreciate everyone's input

Just in case my responses don't come away as being "responsive", I'd like to humbly thank all those who have expressed their input.

I don't want my product to end up "dead" (that's the best way I can explain it). When I started this venture I knew the margin (for myself) would be slim... Until there was some traction with regards to the sale to consumers. Maybe then I could make a living selling the product. But things have been tougher than expected.

See there is a large scale store who have over 120 outlets... I could give them a price of $2.50 because they will push product to all of their outlets. So this is sorta a volume discount... Their markup would end up being 50% (or 100%).

But when you price into the equation DISTRIBUTION, the whole thing just falls appart... Hopefully I can find a way to overcome these hurdles.

questccg
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Squeezed to the last penny

questccg wrote:
Hopefully I can find a way to overcome these hurdles.

I think I can work something out with the trade margin. My REAL problem is with the Expansion... I hope China is DIRT cheap! ;)

Dralius
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Basic Math for GAME MANUFACTURERS

Check out http://www.discovergames.com/math.html it covers how you money would be spent in a traditional publishing model. There are certainly many different models today with online sales and PoD publishing but at least it addresses the American publisher-distributer-retailer model that you seem to be having trouble with.

P.S. I have heard numerous stories that would give me pause before i had my game printed in Asia. Most have to do with quality but also include communication difficulties and the unwillingness to make proper compensation when they fail to keep up to their word.

guildofblades
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>>What about giving a game a

>>What about giving a game a chance by stocking it and seeing how well it sells?<<

We give tons of games a chance. Like I said, as a retail store, we stock over 17000 different items. We have over 750 board game titles and nearly 600 card game titles in the store presently. You have to understand, the "average" hobby game retail store stocks somewhere between 100-400 titles in their board game section and they usually consider both board and card games lumped together to comprise that section. So I assure you, when it comes to stocking such games, we are actually the easy sell compared to most.

But that said, hey, this is _a business_. What gets stocked and sold is decided on business fundamentals. A game with poor margins, a high buy in and no built in fan base is just a non starter. "Giving it a try" is potentially directing our customers towards a game with shallow margins when we could instead be directly them towards any of the 17000 other items we could sell them at more standard margins. In essence, to sell your game, you are asking a retailer to take a pay cut for the privillage.

>>Well as publishers are you saying that the only way to sell a product is offer higher margins?<<

Depends how you define "higher" margins. In the hobby game industry, a retailer turning a decent volume of stuff will be getting discounts off the MSRP from a distributor from 45-50% or so on most items. The items trending along the 45% are stuff like Magic the Gathering, Fantasy Flight board games and other extremely well known games with great manufacturer name recognition and support and built in fan bases. We as retailers "tolerate" (barely) the lower margins on those items because the manufacturers have made them tremendously easier to sell.

I don't think you need to offer "higher" margins, though certainly doing so could open a few more doors. But I think as an unknown, you have to be able to deliver something along the lines of industry standard. Thats going to be 48-50% for an unknown product.

Also consider, those are the margins we obtain through distribution, where when we order large enough orders (and we always do) we get free shipping on those orders, plus can pick quantities to order for each item that make sense for the store. Those can be pretty difficult conditions for a publisher selling direct to a store to replicate, but understand, when retailers have to order direct, it create more work not less, so we're certainly not going to sign up for more work and less pay.

>>Nobody I know wants to sell a product for a loss... Breaking even is a horrible outcome. Making a little, enough to say so, is the bare minimum. A little here and there could amount to a reasonable return on investment. So IMHO you need to make a little (even if it's like $0.25 per pack... The store will make $1.75-$2.00).<<

The discount structures for stores in this industry have formulated due to the cost structures involved with each tier. Stores. You can throw theoretical numbers out there that justify your hopeful breakdown of the SRP all you want, but no stores with an understanding of their cost structures will be swayed to believe your numbers over their own. Your numbers only seem reasonable to you because you don't understand the retailer's cost structures.

>>Maybe manufacturing in China might make for more competitive pricing... I say MIGHT, I'm not certain because I have not yet tried. <<

Production is often a series of compromises. Obviously you as a publisher want to make the absolutely perfect product. The gold plated version that draws people to it like moths to a flame. But the absolutely perfect version typically comes at an unsustainable price tag. So you have to take a hard look at your product, how you produce it, how you package it, how you warehouse it, how you market it, the pricing tiers you establish for SRP and wholesale. At the end, you have to find a structure that supports your cost needs that can also be delivered in a sellable package to the end consumer and fits the expectations of the trade partners you hope to do business with.

Yes, I do understand that is not easy. I have been a partner in GOB Publishing since its founding in 1994. We've published over a couple hundred titles in that time. Given the niche market we operate in, we strive to get a a 4 times markup over our production costs to the price we'll wholesale an item for.

For example:
SRP is $20.
Wholsale to a distributor is $8.00
Our product costs should be $2.00 per item or less if possible.

There are a million and one potential production options, formats and packaging configurations for your game. If the current set of options for yours is not allowing you to market it effectively, might be time to consider repackaging and alternate means of production.

Ryan
GOB

questccg
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More attractive pricing

All this discussing has made me realize that I needed to revisit my royalty for my artwork. I have cut some costs by using the exact figures (not approximation) and I now have a price which is in the higher percentile as suggested by Guildofblades (retail margin). Many thanks for this...

Because of this I have also identified the exact costs that I need to get from my printer in order to be able to even think of producing my Expansion for the game. We'll see what the printer has to say...

Last time I was "new" to production and the costs involved. Next time I will be better prepared and will ask for better pricing if the margins just aren't there...

Sincerely.

guildofblades
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other cost saving areas may

other cost saving areas may be number of cards printed per set. Number of cards collated into a package.

If your game in non collectible, you might be able to save a lot of money on production moving out of a "booster: style package, put twice or three times as many cards into a "set", box the product instead and then retail it for $14.95 or something like that.

You will likely only find so much variance in the raw printing cost and should likely be a bit weary of the bottom dollar printer anyways. Quality can quickly become an issue in such a case.

But instead, talk with your printers and see what is most cost efficient for them to print. You may find that the print in various multiples very efficiently and within those printed multiples, they may be able to handle packaging as is and you can save on both printing costs "per card" and eliminate collating costs. Just explore all the options before settling on a format.

Ryan
GOB Retail

larienna
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Quote:How do I get around the

Quote:
How do I get around the "avoid new trading card games like the plague"???

The world of collectible card game is impossible to penetrate. Even if you have the most wonderful game and a lot of money, it is almost impossible to enter the market.

For example, take a look at "Duel Masters". It's published by wizards of the coast (lot of money) and it solves many problems found in magic the gathering (so good game). Still, the game could not manage to get popular here (it only got popular in japan)

Many reasons for that:
- It was simpler than magic
- The target audience was for kids
- People only played if there is a solid community. (if they found other players. Few players = fewer players.)

So when you are self publishing, collectible games is the type of game to avoid at all cost. Expandable card games like LCG, or games like dominions are acceptable.

Maybe you could reduce the price of your game if the cards were not randomly distributed in the packs. All the packs have exactly the same cards. This is the method used by LCG. This the most indie designer should be capable of doing.

questccg
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A mix between a CCG and LCG

larienna wrote:
Maybe you could reduce the price of your game if the cards were not randomly distributed in the packs. All the packs have exactly the same cards. This is the method used by LCG. This the most indie designer should be capable of doing.

Well my game is a MIX of CCG and LCG. See each pack (or booster) is a quest which contains 10 adventure cards (not random). However the boosters themselve are random when you buy them. So the boosters have exactly the same cards, however the boosters themselves vary (random).

The thing is that when you purchase a booster (pack), you never know what quest you are getting until you open up the pack and see.

stevebarkeruk
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Flaw?

"when you purchase a booster (pack), you never know what quest you are getting until you open up the pack and see."

I think this is a severe flaw in the product. What you're saying is that, unlike a CCG, when you buy a booster you might actually be completely wasting your money by buying a quest you already own? And the more quests you own, the less chance you have of getting a new one next time you buy a booster.

Your model would seem to actually discourage people from buying boosters because there's an increasing chance that their money will be totally wasted. At least in a CCG, the random mix of cards means you'll get at least *some* useful cards and give yourself more deck building options. In the case of your game, that advantage is removed because the cards are a fixed set but the random nature of those fixed sets adds the possibility of just throwing away $5 on duplicates.

I have no idea if this would have occurred to any store you pitched the game to, but if it did then you could understand them being reluctant to stock a product which could be perceived by customers as a bad gamble with their money when other products give a much more definite return.

larienna
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Quote:I think this is a

Quote:
I think this is a severe flaw in the product.

Totally agree with that.

I strongly suggest that you avoid the random distribution of cards. It should even lower the production cost since you do not need anybody to shuffle the cards before packaging them. Release different starter packs if you want (between 3 and 5) to that a player does not need to buy all the cards to play. But make all the cards in each starter pack exactly the same.

Remember that "Collectible" is very pejorative and many people try to stay way from that ( not only the retailers, but also the players). For example, I and not interested in investing a single penny in collectible games anymore. I am not even sure if I would be willing to invest in LCG. I even know some players that would not even play Arkham Horror because there are too much expansions.

If you want an expandable game ... fine, but remove the collectibility feature from it. Not only it will reduce the production cost but also make your game more attractive to players and retailers.

InvisibleJon
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+1 for commitment-keeping concerns.

Dralius wrote:
P.S. I have heard numerous stories that would give me pause before i had my game printed in Asia. Most have to do with quality but also include communication difficulties and the unwillingness to make proper compensation when they fail to keep up to their word.
I have a friend who printed a game in China, was promised very specific results, triple-checked to confirm that the requirements were crystal-clear, and they did not deliver. When he confronted them to get compensation, they offered to pay him for his time and labor to set it right.

At Chinese labor prices.

It was not good, on so many levels.

There are a few Chinese manufacturers who I'd work with in an instant. There are many whom I would never work with. Do your research. Caveat emptor.

InvisibleJon
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Consider your reasons carefully...

questccg wrote:
My game is a MIX of CCG and LCG. See each pack (or booster) is a quest which contains 10 adventure cards (not random). However the boosters themselve are random when you buy them. So the boosters have exactly the same cards, however the boosters themselves vary (random).

The thing is that when you purchase a booster (pack), you never know what quest you are getting until you open up the pack and see.

Short comment: If your making the boosters "blind buys" has little or nothing to do with enhancing the "fun" or "play value" of the game, and is motivated primarily by getting players to spend money (or to mimic the format of other games), consider making the boosters non-blind.

Long comment:
Why? How does this enhance the "fun" or play value of the game?

(At the risk of sounding... Well, of sounding like myself: What does "blind buying" represent in your game's universe? Does it represent the fact that you don't know what quest will present itself to you until you make an effort (aka: spend money) to find one? Is there a strong in-game (read: game mechanic) reason for the boosters to be blind buys?)

As prior posters have pointed out, your audience may get miffed.

If having duplicates of a quest gives me an in-game advantage (or otherwise enhances the fun of the game in some way), that could ameliorate any "hard feelings" I might have from getting my second (or third, or fourth) copy of a given quest.

If having duplicate quests does not have a clear advantage, it's likely that players will grow to resent having to make blind purchases.

For a real-world example of the implementation and abandonment of a product presentation format by a major hobby-industry company (White Wolf) that was similar (but not identical) to what I think you're going for, try Google-ing for "Changeling cantrip cards" ( http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=changeling+... ). Blind buys for a component that was *required* to play a RPG. It did not go well.

For a second real-world example, consider the graddaddy of all CCGs: M:tG. When it first came out, all decks and boosters were random. Everything you got was luck of the draw. Nowadays, it's easy-peasy to buy any number of decks where you know *exactly* what cards you're getting. Why would they do that? In no small part, it's to ensure that players have easy access to the core cards (lands, basic spells) they need to have a fun experience. From what I know, it sounds like Quests are critical to your game experience. In a sense, they're the core cards that define the game.

..Meh... I've lost my train of thought.

Please carefully consider your reasons for presenting and packaging your game the way you've chosen to.

I sincerely hope your game turns out the way you want it to.

questccg
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Only for the most strategic players

InvisibleJon wrote:
Short comment: If your making the boosters "blind buys" has little or nothing to do with enhancing the "fun" or "play value" of the game, and is motivated primarily by getting players to spend money (or to mimic the format of other games), consider making the boosters non-blind.

Well playing duplicates of a quest is permissible and supported by the game. So there is no penalty in having duplicates. Secondly in some occasions you may want to strategically play a duplicate. That's the thing about my game, kids playing the game may only play with the matching mechanism and avoid event cards altogether... and still have fun playing.

The more advanced player will try to squeeze the most out of his gaming experience by learning how the event cards are used and which packs (boosters) contain which cards.

At the very limit, a very advanced player will know what cards come with which pack (booster) and will offset the opponent's sets. Reasons to do so can be to "increase points" because some quests have low scoring cards, "decrease the value of the treasury" because you want to avoid players playing a conservative game, have a "counter" to balance out high scoring games, etc.

These strategic options should be factored into the creation of a Second Edition of the product. I'm not just creating quests on a whim. There are rules to the quests: there are quest types, there is quest difficulty, etc.

So is there a "fun" aspect to having duplicates: definetly. It's just meant for the most strategic of players and would probably go unnoticed by most players...

Lastly this is only a First Edition with ten (10) quests. Other editions will introduce more quests and ways to intermix cards from different editions.

questccg
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Story adds for another depth

questccg wrote:
I'm not just creating quests on a whim. There are rules to the quests: there are quest types, there is quest difficulty, etc.

There is also, not to be forgotten, a story around the quests and the cards themselves. This provides for another depth to the product (which probably will never see light of day unless I can find stores to carry my product). So when I am designing an edition, I am also in the back of my mind thinking about the story and how it should mix with the cards of the edition.

questccg
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Trade 2 or 3 sets

stevebarkeruk wrote:
I think this is a severe flaw in the product. What you're saying is that, unlike a CCG, when you buy a booster you might actually be completely wasting your money by buying a quest you already own? And the more quests you own, the less chance you have of getting a new one next time you buy a booster.

Your model would seem to actually discourage people from buying boosters because there's an increasing chance that their money will be totally wasted...

There is always the option of "trading" packs. If you have a duplicate and your friend has the last set to your collection, you should consider making a trade of sets (10 cards for another 10 cards). This adds the whole TCG aspect to the game...

As I have mentionned there are reasons for playing duplicates (especially with the First Edition, since there are ONLY ten (10) quests). And remember as I have said earlier, there is no penalty for playing duplicates...

My model FIRSTLY reduces the INITIAL cost for playing the game: all you need is three (3) packs, ANY packs. So even a kids with a limited amount of income can start playing the game with the few bucks he may have...

Now it may be true that the model later penalizes collectors who want the complete their collection, this is always the case with collectible games: the more cards you have, the higher the chance of having duplicates. So trading is your best option... And maybe even trading two (2) or three (3) duplicates for that missing set...

questccg
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UPDATE: China pricing

EVERYONE wants to know! I got a reply from the Chinese manufacturer and the price for 1 booster to manufacture (including packaging) is $0.08 per booster!

HOLY CRAP! That is CRAZY! No wonder everyone is manufacturing in China...

seo
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Cartamundi

You might want to also ask for pricing to someone specializing in cards, like CartaMundi: http://www.cartamundiusa.com/Content/products/collectibletradin/1/index....

They might not be as low on price as your China source, but the risk of getting a bad product is probably much lower. And they also take care of some of the other stuff you mentioned as reasons for your currently high production cost, like randomizing the sets.

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