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BGDF P-500?

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mistre
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This post is in response to the whole Print and Play idea. Not wanting to hijack the post with my own idea, I started a new thread.

I personally, like others, am not at all interested in Print and Play. There are just too many high quality games out there for me to want to mess with PnP. As stated before, PnP is pretty limited to card games and supply your own components which really won't cut it for a majority of designs on BGDF. Face it, we all want our games to be published! Plus, as a game designer, I would rather spend my free time designing my own games (which also require printing) than printing out other games.

Now what I WOULD be interested in would be some sort of indie game P-500 service (see http://www.gmtgames.com/t-GMTP500Details.aspx for more details on the business model) . What if BGDF sponsored such a service (on a separate website) where we could submit our finished prototypes? We could upload our rules and pictures of our finished prototype to the website and even provide background info. There would have to be some sort of fee for this service, and I don't claim to even guess what it would cost to emulate the P-500 model, but you can't deny that the interest would be there on the game designer's end. Even if games did not garner enough interest to get printed, perhaps the real publishers out there would see that a game had some interest and would contact the designer about publishing their game. Or a real publisher could co-sponsor the site.

The idea behind this would make it easier for indie designers to have a better shot of having their finished designs published and cut down on the excessive time that publishers sit on prototypes before providing feedback.

Please someone who knows more about publishing games chime in and let me know if this idea is at all feasible or just some sort of pipe dream.

jwarrend
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Cool idea!

Very cool idea Mark! Like you, I'm not particularly interested in buying or publishing PnP games -- just not my thing -- but something like this seems like it could be a great way that the BGDF community could benefit itself.

Here are some concerns/considerations I'd have:

-- These games would have the same difficulties that all self-published games have: they cost more, and they are an unproven quantity compared to games published by a reputable publisher. What QC would be in place to guarantee that people will get their monies' worth, and make them willing to pay in advance for something? (One possible answer -- revitalize the game design contest idea we discussed in the past, and the prize for the best games would be publication through this P-500/consortium model.)

-- On the other hand, the inherently democratic nature of the P-500 process mitigates this somewhat, as people will only pay for games that look interesting. To encourage them, probably full disclosure will be required -- you'd need to provide the full rulebook, graphics, etc, for every game. Unpublished designers may be prickly about this kind of thing but of course they can choose not to participate.

-- I wonder if a variant of this idea could be used as a way to provide market information to game publishers, and to democratize the publication process. Eg, if there is a "games gallery" and people can go there and vote on the games they're interested in seeing published, this info could be conveyed to publishers to potentially persuade them to take a look at games they might otherwise not see. There could be some benefit to having recommended a game that a publisher picks up, maybe a 5% discount on a preorder of the game or something. Of course, you'd have to get commitment from publishers that they'd actually use the site, rather than their own submissions and marketing channels (which they probably have a great deal more confidence in, and rightly so).

Still, cool idea, worth thinking about more!

-Jeff

larienna
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Why not both?

Why not integrate the P500 system and P&P in the same system? While players are waiting, they can still get their hands on the rules and play the game if they want. Then they could get a rebate if they buy again the printed version.

Getting strong links with the publisher is another good element I would seek. I know that publishers are relatively buzy and they don't have the time to check for games on the net. Maybe the website could supply the necessary profile information of the submitted game to make a submission to a publisher. If a publisher sees that a game is about to pass P500, they might buy the rights and publish it themselves.

As for my games, I am not really interested in producing physically my own games. So a P500 mechanism might not really work for me.

SiddGames
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Rebranded

I wonder if that established publisher angle is worth pursuing further. Suppose "we" (meaning, whoever actually pursues this) were to work out a deal with someone like GMT. Basically use their "expertise" (they already have all the pieces in place) to do the actual print run, but the product would be branded under "our" name. It seems like at some point, one should be able to hand GMT a finished packet that includes rules and graphics (layed out, ready for the printer in whatever format GMT specifies), and for a fee or cut of the action they get it printed. By using a brand other than GMT, they risk no damage to their own brand.

Scurra
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...some random thoughts...

Ironically, this is almost exactly the model that we (some friends and I) have been exploring with respect to figuring out how to get a smaller game published without needing to go through a major publisher, especially given the massive changes in printing and on-line activity that has happened over the last few years.

We came up with a three-fold model.
Firstly, the game rules and components should be publicly posted (even if only on a "membership website".) This doesn't imply that the game should be "print and play", and not that many people will go to the bother of creating their own version but offering the game for "free" always looks good.
Secondly, figure out some method of enabling people to play the game on-line. People always like to "try before they buy" - and on-line play does increasingly seem to help sales. Now obviously there are different models of on-line play, so careful thought about which type to use is important, but it's becoming less of an issue.
Thirdly, come up with something to encourage people to buy a physical copy or to join a pre-order list (the Animeeples that Z-Man offered for Agricola is a great example of this.) As long as you keep people posted as to progress, and explain slippages quickly and openly then they will generally be happy.

Now it so happens that the game I have been working on has certain advantages in all of these areas, which is why we came up with this particular model. But these three aspects still strike me as being highly relevant when considering this sort of publication.

(Oh, and hi to anyone who still remembers me! I like the new site look and hope to be back more often.)

MatthewF
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Scurra wrote:(Oh, and hi to

Scurra wrote:
(Oh, and hi to anyone who still remembers me! I like the new site look and hope to be back more often.)

Yo! Long time no see, good to see you here!

mistre
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Scurra wrote:Secondly, figure

Scurra wrote:
Secondly, figure out some method of enabling people to play the game on-line. People always like to "try before they buy" - and on-line play does increasingly seem to help sales. Now obviously there are different models of on-line play, so careful thought about which type to use is important, but it's becoming less of an issue.

I would be interested to know more about how you would do this. Do you have expertise in making online versions of boardgames? This could potentially be another avenue for someone that had expertise in this area to make a business out of. Sort of like a SpielbyWeb or MabiWeb for indie designers. The indie designer would pay a fee to have their game developed into an online version. They would work with the developer to make sure that all rules are correctly followed during a beta stage. Maybe there could even be a window of time for the designer to playtest a few different scenarios (play around with some values) before publishing a final version. Then it would be open to the general public to play and rate. Similar to the P-500 idea, Publishers would then look at the site to see which games are garnering the most interest and contact the designer about publishing.

I don't know if it is just me, but the whole mail your prototype to a publisher (wait 3-6 months if your lucky), get it back and mail to another publisher and wait another 3-6 months seems so outdated and archaic to me. Plus, a majority of publishers no longer accept outside submissions anyways. Seems like a better way would be to have some sort of web-based solution for indie designers. This would help publishers in a way because they could see the reaction and comments about a game before they decide to inquire about publishing it. Whether this is through a pre-order system (P-500) or a play on-line version system or both would still need to be determined.

MatthewF
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Jeff!

jwarrend wrote:
Still, cool idea, worth thinking about more!

-Jeff


Agreed, and hi Jeff! Long time no see! Glad to see you here.

Zzzzz
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Some random blurts : 1)

Some random blurts :

1) Quality (both content and components)

2) Pre-order requirement of 500-750 seems too high

3) If it was possible or reasonable to reach 500-750 pre-orders for a game from an unknown designer, unknown publishing company, does it not imply that it could/would sell more if backed by a established publishers? If so, why would a publisher that could sell 1000+ copies of a game not consider it? While I understand they want the next *big* thing that sells 10s of thousands of copies, selling over a 1000 copies of a game in the *hobby* market is still pretty good.

4) Are there statistics around that help support that the P-500 method is viable? How often has it succeeded in the past? How often does it fail? What is the average time it takes a listing to reach the required pre-order count?

5) Would that lack of the designer to help fund the publishing impact what some people might think about the game? If the designer (though $$ is always tough for many people) is not able to show the commitment to back their game, what could that imply about the game?

Hello to you Scurra, glad to see an *old* face back again!

Scurra
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Initial investment?

Zzzzz wrote:
5) Would that lack of the designer to help fund the publishing impact what some people might think about the game? If the designer (though $$ is always tough for many people) is not able to show the commitment to back their game, what could that imply about the game?
No more than people expect an author to contribute to the publishing costs of their first book. There are plenty of "vanity press" type operations out there for writers, but if a title is any good then a real publisher will be happy to take a punt on it.

I'm not sure about your numbers argument though: there is a difference between a game that might have a maximum sale of 500 copies and one that would easily sell 500+. The great thing about the 'net is that we now have a way of finding all of those 500 customers, which would make it viable (if not a huge money-spinner.) But my impression of the P-500 system is that it is going to tend more towards the first sort of game than the second.

(In reply to Mistre, no, I'm not an on-line expert, although I do know enough to know what can be done relatively straight-forwardly. And yes, we were thinking very much that an umbrella site for indie on-line games would definitely be more a sensible way forwards as a showcase for designs rather than the prototype submission system.)

larienna
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For online playing, it could

For online playing, it could be a solution but I don't know because computer programming takes time and skills. I would probably think of a board game emulator/PBEM like vassal.

About the P-500: why 500? I though that 500 mean something like 50% of the production cost. To make sure you reach the break even.

Is it true that 500 copies garanty the financial security of the game. Maybe because the minimum number of copies you can produce is 1000.

Zzzzz
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larienna wrote: About the

larienna wrote:

About the P-500: why 500? I though that 500 mean something like 50% of the production cost. To make sure you reach the break even.

Is it true that 500 copies garanty the financial security of the game. Maybe because the minimum number of copies you can produce is 1000.

Based on the information located at the link provided in the original post (http://www.gmtgames.com/t-GMTP500Details.aspx), it seems that thr 500-750 range is what is desired before any charges will be put on the pre-order credit cards.

I think your statement about min run of 1000 copies might factor into that number, though min run printing did not seem to be detailed in the information (though I cannot recall). And since the production was to occur in the 700-750 *pre-order* range, once can assume that that 3/4 of the copies has to be sold in order to offset the production cost overhead.

I wish I could have more confidence in this process, it could be a great avenue for many hobbyist designers, but I just dont understand how it would work in the long run.

MatthewF
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larienna wrote:Is it true

larienna wrote:
Is it true that 500 copies garanty the financial security of the game. Maybe because the minimum number of copies you can produce is 1000.

This is indeed the idea, as GMT has indicated before: it guarantees that they can pay for the production and shipping.

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