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What do I want from a Publisher

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questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011

Okay,

So I thought I'd post a topic about "Publishers" and the type of services you would want from them.

Let me start with my *needs* in terms of a Publisher:

Marketing:

  • Go to the conventions around the U.S. an *market* the game.
  • Arrange for demonstrations at local game stores.
  • Have a few reviews from various reviewers such a Father Geek, The Dice Tower, All Us Geeks, etc.
  • Have podcasts talking about the game.
  • Find Game Blogs to talk about the game.
  • Setup a game's profile on Board Game Geek.

Distribution:

  • Contact distributors to *sell* the game to Brick & Mortar shops.
  • Follow-up with regards to re-ordering of the game.
  • Determine if there is a possibility to *sell* the game elsewhere (Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, etc.)
  • Handle all production and warehousing of the game.

Obviously there are other aspects I would be willing to give the Publisher some more *room to manoeuvre*. Such as "Re-design" the game's rulebook, best ideas for the box bottom (what information to have there and how it should be displayed), refining of the story behind the game.

BubbleChucks
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Joined: 06/07/2012
My predilections in respect

My predilections in respect to a partnership with a publisher would feature some of the things you mentioned and some you didn’t. I think it depends on what you envision for a game, how flexible you are in relation to the final shape of the game and what aspirations you have for it.

In any partnership flexibility is one of the most important things that both parties can bring to the table. Some designers view their creations as “hallowed ground”. This is my game and it MUST remain true to my vision and not be changed in any way. Changing any aspect of it, or departing from my vision for it, is unthinkable.

If a designer has devoted a lot of time or effort to a game it’s understandable that they might think about it in such terms. Or it might be a design that they are particularly proud of, because of some aspect or other associated with it. Either way, they have invested a lot into it and watched it grow as a parent might watch their child grow; caring for it, nurturing it along each foundling step before its ready to stand on its own feet and journey out into the world.

Me? I’m not so precious. So one of the things I would look for would be a publisher with developmental capability. Having someone else look at a game, someone with experience and a professional eye, capable of suggesting valued changes is a good thing. After all a publisher wants the same thing as a designer, to see the game played and enjoyed by as many people as possible.

The major difference is that publishers are willing to stump up the money to place the game on the store shelves so it can be bought and played. In relation to this they aren’t going to make decisions or suggest changes that, in their professional opinion, would hurt the games potentiality – only improve it.

A publisher could be seen as an invested playtester of a developed product or a final polisher. Whether its tightening the mechanics, altering the theme, suggesting game play revisions, or tweaking the contents to reach a price point if the game needs revising a publisher should be able to see what needs to be done.

Naturally, one would hope that a submitted game design doesn't need any changes. And I don't think its a publishers task to turn a half finished sows ear into a silk purse. However, active contributions from an invested partner that is focussed on giving the game the best chance of success is a very attractive quality for me.

Now, that doesn’t mean rolling over and accepting anything and everything, because once in a blue moon a suggestion may very well be outside the best interests of a game. In such rare cases it might be best for both parties to go their seperate ways with no ill feelings.

However, a game design that isn’t published will only be played by a few people or gather dust on a shelf. A game that is out there on multiple store shelves has every chance of being played. So flexibility and respectful co-operation, with the desire to make the best game possible (within the boundaries of any fixed production requirements), would be high on my list for both parties.

I fully concur with your distribution points. If you don’t have good distribution you don’t have squat (once again you have games gathering dust).

In relation to the marketing, I agree on some form of convention attendance (possibly Gen Con or Essen at least) and some of the product promotion requirements.

The publisher should have a website where your game is visible in a manner that prospective players can find easily and quickly. Associated reviews, a good description of the game and pictures would also be high on my list. In the commercial world of today web portals are a vital sales link. Even if they aren’t geared towards direct selling they still serve as easily accessible information points and sale generators.

If a website offers a poor display of its games, or they are hard to find or not listed at all it doesn’t convey a good impression. It tells visitors that the company doesn’t believe in the product and they have better things to do with their time than highlight it – so why should a potential consumer devote their precious time and money to it.

The same is true for any other product visibility strategy, whether its banner advertisements or convention displays. If you show you care in the presentation details of your products it shows you care about and value what you’re offering. In the hobby game market, where the primary force driving sales is arguably reviews, this still matters.

Which brings me on to another of your points, namely reviews. Making games available for review, and covering any costs associated with doing so, should be an integral part of any publishers marketing mix.

In relation to your other marketing requirements I would have to differ. Organising numerous local game events would take an enormous amount of time, effort and money. The returns for which would probably be very small. I don’t think such a requirement is a financial practicality, so I’m not too bothered about it.

Then again, a designers’ contribution doesn’t have to end with the publication of their design. There is nothing to stop a designer from organising local events or promoting their game in other ways too the benefit of everyone.

So, to cap it all off, I would welcome good distribution, primary marketing/promotional activities and experienced development input. A strong desire to see a game succeed, in its initial form or its final revision, is also an essential commitment in my eyes.

Nice people would also be very high on my list. The stages a game might go through before it hits the shelves could be many and varied. Dealing with happy, friendly people would make every step of the way an enjoyable experience for everyone concerned.

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Building up the brand

BubbleChucks wrote:
...In relation to your other marketing requirements I would have to differ. Organising numerous local game events would take an enormous amount of time, effort and money. The returns for which would probably be very small. I don’t think such a requirement is a financial practicality, so I’m not too bothered about it...

I agree it may not be cost effective... I would say to offer a rebate on the game, like "This weekend - Save $5.00 off game X." But then again Publisher and Distributor margins are already LOW. The shop owner loses out on the MSRP price... And I don't see why they would DISCOUNT a game if it comes out of their profits (Local Brick & Mortar store). But perhaps it can be a promotional "weekend" where the publisher/distributor could send some sales material like Posters and such, to advertise their "Brand"...

Maybe it could be for a Publisher that has MANY games (so a discount off all their games)... Promoting not just *my* game on that weekend - but the other great games they have published.

It doesn't have to be PRODUCT specific, it could be for the BRAND...

Note: I was thinking about this BRAND promotion MORE and my concept would be something like: "Buy ONE game and get 5% off!" or "Buy TWO games and get 10% off!" Obviously the games would need to be from the SAME Publisher who is holding a week-long promotion of their games... I think this might be fair. The local game store could earn MORE money by selling MORE skews...

gdhvence
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Joined: 05/26/2013
Build the title with the designer

I would like the add:

Bring the designers out from their shell!! Get them to do promo together every roadshows and create special events for the game.

gdhvence
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Joined: 05/26/2013
Build the title with the designer

I would like the add:

Bring the designers out from their shell!! Get them to do promo together every roadshows and create special events for the game.

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