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I am Social Media Adverse - how can I publish games?

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thunder_monkey
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So, I have a game that I'd like to publish, and I've been working though getting quotes, etc. with the intent of doing a Kickstarter for it.

As I've read through more KS guides (Jamey Stegmeier, for example), I'm seeing how important it is to "build a crowd" via social media before you start your KS, and I've just now realized how social media adverse I am. I have intentionally avoided Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and the thought of joining them fills me with dread.

With that in mind, how important do you think social media is for publishing a game via:
1) Kickstarter
2) Self-funded self-publishing
3) Submitting prototypes to traditional publishers

Thanks for your thoughts!

questccg
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It's all about EXPECTATIONS...

1> If you Kickstart the game without any social media. If your game is very appealing and you have a graphic artist to handle all there is to make the page very presentable, you should expect to get 1% of backers. What that translates to is 100-250 backers.

Because this is a First Created project, your odds of success must be realistic. If you expect to make $1,000,000 dollars well then you will probably be very disappointed.

However if you plan for 100-250 backers ... and you deliver the project, what happens next is that you have an AUDIENCE of people to whom you can market your 2nd Game...

That's right, things are incremental and since you're pretty much on the bottom of the ladder (100 - 250 backers), if your first game was GOOD, the odds are people might back the 2nd game.

And then it goes the same for your 3rd or 4th games. By the 4th game you might have over 1,000 backers (or more).

2> Self-funding limits the audience of the game. You can't just MAKE a game and expect it to sell -- because you made it. Believe me, I know this is the exact mistake I made with "Quest Adventure Cards(tm)"... I made 100,000 cards and 10,000 boosters, only to realize that the way business is conducted in my local area ... doesn't leave much room for independent game design.

You'll be wanting to either sell via a website (again nobody know where?) and have a BGG page about your product to LINK to your online presence.

If not, you'll have to see if you can make a deal with a distributor. But the problem is that you have 0 sales. How do you convince a distributor to resell your game ... if you have no sales. If you had a KS and made $50,000, that's a start ... you can be truthful and say: "We had a KS and made $50k. While that isn't too high, we got over 1,000 backers..." and then you see the importance of having a successful KS campaign: it paves the way for the rest.

3> For publishers, they prefer games that are pretty much "unknown". No BGG page and as little of marketing as possible. Why? Because the odds are that they will change the game, use their own artists, etc. and bring the game to life in their image.

So not having any Social Media for Publishers is a positive. You can even say: "I have yet to discuss this game online -- since I wanted to keep the surprise nature of the game..." Or something like that.

Best of luck(?!) with your game.

ElKobold
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So Dicetower has published a

So Dicetower has published a video recently.
I suggest everyone to watch it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERE8dmPi4AY

ssm
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1. Very 2. Somewhat,

1. Very
2. Somewhat, depending on you
3. A bit

Ultimately, most publishers, in most industries, expect you to do a portion of the marketing yourself.

questccg
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My comments

ElKobold wrote:
So Dice Tower has published a video recently. I suggest everyone to watch it....

Actually I'm 50% in agreement with Tom and his assessment. But there is one way that I disagree with Tom: if you Self-Publish games, you NEED your own company. Call it what you want, my game design company or my game distribution company or my game publishing company... Whatever you want to call it, you NEED it IF you are going to Self-Publish multiple games.

The basic accounting (in terms of sales) is tracked differently. When you sell a game, it is considered a LIABILITY until it actually is DELIVERED. So even if you make money in 2017 but don't SHIP until 2018, you ONLY pay taxes on whatever is shipping in 2017... not 2018.

There is more: personal taxes vs. company taxes are VERY DIFFERENT. Corporate tax where I am at is 22%. If I declared earnings as additional income, I would be paying tax rates at 45%. More than DOUBLE.

You're growing a COMPANY not your personal income. If you PAY yourself, well then you're probably going to have to pay HIGHER tax rate on the money... But you can leave the money in the company AND MAKE MORE GAMES (using the money) to make use of the funds, get a better card template, have someone design a website, etc. The company can grow in all kinds of different ways.

The company can make $0 for years and you can still collect your personal income money (paycheques). Or maybe you put out a game in 2018 and then wait 2-3 years to perfect your next one... You're not in a squeeze to do anything. Your company will allow you the flexibility to decide WHEN is it right for the NEXT game, the resources your need to make it happen, etc.

But you need to realize that unless you have a good accountant who is a friend, the costs of doing corporate tax returns are MORE expensive than personal tax returns. I've seen from $900 to $2,000 annually. So you've got to be aware of the drawbacks of owning your own company. COSTS.

These are some additional notes that Tom doesn't touch on. I wanted to share this because A> I own my own company. B> I have explored KS with my accountant and I know some of the sticky details...

Anyways best of luck(?!) to whatever road you choose...!

ElKobold
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questccg wrote:But there is

questccg wrote:
But there is one way that I disagree with Tom: if you Self-Publish games, you NEED your own company.

When you self-publish, you are the publisher.
Obviously you need a company then.

What he is talking about is that not everyone needs to self-publish. In fact, for most people it would be better to go through a publisher.

Especially if it's your first game.

questccg
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Learning the "landscape"

ElKobold wrote:
When you self-publish, you are the publisher. Obviously you need a company then...

Especially if it's your first game.

The HARD part of "Game Publishing" is SALES. I've actually learned this the hard way: in many industries the key point is SALES. I don't know what it takes to be very successful at sales, it's got to partially do with personality (You need to have a way with people) and the area you live in too (Can't sell if there is nobody to buy). You need knowledge about who can RESELL your game (distribution channels) too.

For one example, about one (1) year ago doing a Game Expo, I met a lady who really enjoyed my game. So we got to talking after the game and she told me that where I live there are two (2) distributors. One caters to large stores, the other sells to all stores no matter on size. She told me who this distributor was and the next day I looked them up: they distribute to over 100 stores in my area.

Had I not met this woman, had she not enjoyed playing my game, had I not gone to this Expo -- I would have never LEARNED about this distributor.

I don't know if my Publisher will be interested in SELLING games to this distributor ... but I'm going to ask them to at least TRY. Maybe sell them a dozen (12) games and see if some stores sell their copies and ask to re-order...

So you need to learn the "landscape" near where you live. What are your possible "outlets" for your game? If you live in a Small Town where there is only ONE (1) Hobby Game Shop -- well you pretty much need to set your eyes on bigger fish (like online retailers such as Amazon, eBay, etsy, etc.) Or some specialized online stores that ONLY sell TableTop games (not sure in the USA - but in Canada this is Starlit Citadel or Snakes And Lattes...)

The more you know about WHO sells what to whom... The better the odds that you will find someone who can SELL or RESELL your game.

Just some additional thoughts.

ssm
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questccg wrote:The company

questccg wrote:
The company can make $0 for years and you can still collect your personal income money (paycheques). Or maybe you put out a game in 2018 and then wait 2-3 years to perfect your next one... You're not in a squeeze to do anything. Your company will allow you the flexibility to decide WHEN is it right for the NEXT game, the resources your need to make it happen, etc.

I would like to comment on this.
It is true to a point. The industry really matters, as does how much you are buying vs making. Board games is a growing industry, and I can see it going the way that Invention industry went a number of years ago, at least here in the US. There was a 'glut' of invention companies and the IRS stepped in and made it very clear that if you were not producing and selling within a few years, your 'business' got legally downgraded to a 'hobby'. There needs to be money flowing in in order to keep a business a business. If money only flows out to buy stuff, then you are seen as having fun, at the expense of the government (buying wholesale, etc) instead of contributing to the economy.
My suggestion for any business is to not form one until you are near to putting something out.

questccg
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Re: Self-Publishing

ssm wrote:
My suggestion for any business is to not form one until you are near to putting something out.

Yes but this is the POINT: if you plan on making SEVERAL "Self-Published" games -- you would be WISE to invest the time to discuss with an Accountant the various benefits of trying to grow a business around your games.

I'm not saying EVERYONE should go out and start a company. On the contrary, I have cited the annual costs people pay for getting their yearly accounting done by a professional... It's ranges from Moderate (less than a Grand) to High (Several Thousands).

But if you plan to put out into the market SEVERAL games ... my advice to you would be to start a company around those games. Otherwise it'll just be a "hobby" that you enjoy and never publish anything at all.

BHFuturist
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Greetings

thunder_monkey,

You do not "need" a social media presence and I can understand not wanting to jump into that world. But as to how "important" they are...

Any tool is only as good as your skill at using it. But "networking" in a more general sense is very important to any endeavor into the marketplace.

However, you should "want" to have a presence, even if it is just for basic news & announcements about your games. It gives people who use those networks a place to check on what you are doing without leaving their comfort zones and it can be a great way to just point people to your website or Kickstarter pages.

It does not need to be a lot of work and you don't need to be more involved on each of the networks than you are comfortable with. Most of the time the same update can just be posted quickly to each one and just forget about it.

I would say that a simple Facebook page/group that is mostly for your playtesters and customers is enough for a start. Then maybe a twitter account that just points people to the facebook group or your own site. Think of the social media networks as pages that act like "website forwarders".

This, like many other things, relates to the question of "How do you eat an elephant?" and the answer is "One bite at a time."

Best of luck with your game and I hope you can successfully launch out onto social media!

@BHFuturist

The Professor
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Great Video!

ElKobold,

Wonderful video, with quite a bit of wisdom packed into 12 min. There's a reason why Tom is sought out by myriad gaming professionals...he's seen quite a bit during the past decade. Without a vision, or more importantly, with only your current game in mind, is a road to disaster. There is not one successful independent game designer-cum-publisher with such a myopic view.

Cheers,
Joe

lewpuls
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I sometimes disagree with

I sometimes disagree with Tom, but not in this case. I discussed this more briefly a few years ago: Are you a game designer or a game publisher? https://youtu.be/qG6dKzvj3Hw

spaff
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important, but also

Though working on building a following is important, I think the quality of what you want people to follow is more important.

There is some inverse relationship between marketing and product. The better your product the less effort you need to put towards marketing. The harder it is to for people to realize you're offering them something they want, the more effort you need to put towards marketing.

If you want a litmus test of this, if you think your game is ready for production, spend some money on a high quality prototype, and do blind-playtesting, and see how people react to it.

If you don't have a following then your game needs to be over-the-top good. And not according to you, according to random Joe at the local game store.

questccg
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Again "Expectations" are...?

@thunder_monkey: What are your expectations???

Will you be happy with 100-250 KS Backers? OR about $12,500 USD monetary total?? If so well then by all means KS your game, learn from the experience, get a list of e-mails of people who chose to back your game... and come back with ANOTHER game to sell on KS... Do this 2-3 times and you may end up with about 1,000 backers (or more)!

If you can't find a Graphic Artist for your KS ... don't worry you can always submit your design (via a Sell Sheet) to several Publishers. Be honest and tell them that you are shopping your design to MULTIPLE Publishers... This might force them to make a quicker decision as to the status of your game: do we publish or not.

If you have no money to invest in Artwork... Well then I suggest you go with Plan B (Find a Publisher).

If you have some slush funds left over somewhere, you could try to go a slower route like "The Game Crafter" (TGC) "Crowd Sales" which is a process in and of it's own. I did it and made $1,000 in sales... But you grow recognition of your game. As I mentioned you can KS with TGC too. Work out a deal with JT and sign a contract to have your game made by TGC. Hardly any concerns since manufacturing, quotes, logistics (shipping) will all be handled by TGC.

I feel like I am repeating myself ... I find myself giving this advice to NEW designers (or Hobby Designers) on a regular basis.

It all depends on what your expectations are -- and how MUCH you are willing to INVEST/RISK in the endeavor. Remember if you KS you will need nice "artwork" and someone to handle DAILY updates to the KS campaign. Plus you'll need REVIEWS and people talking about your game on BGG.

That's another thing -- if you self-publish get your game on www.boardgamegeek.com. If you want to submit your game to Publishers DO NOT submit your game to BGG... That's a big no-no. Let the Publisher handle those details when the time is right.

If you have other questions, please ask and I will try to do my best to answer them as soon as possible.

Cheers!

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