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I created a game and WHAT NEXT? Help! :)

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jen121
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Joined: 04/25/2010

Hi everyone, I'm new here.

I created a game years ago and I although it was intended for entertainment, I actually think it could be a hit in stores. I don't know the first thing about going public with a board game.

Should I get an agent? Should I get a licensing/patent attorney?

If someone can point me in the right direction, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Thanks, Jen

truekid games
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Joined: 10/29/2008
it's hard to say without

it's hard to say without knowing more about the game itself. but here's some generic advice-

playtest more. blind playtest (give the people your rules sheet, and see if they can play successfully with no exterior intervention).

figure out which kind of store your game is the best fit in- mass market (wal-mart, toys-r-us)? hobby (comic shops, game shops)? educational?

once you've figured that out, you've got essentially 2 routes: self-publish, or license to a publisher.

if you self-publish, you will be doing a LOT of work, and it will take some start-up capital. knowing which store you fit into gives you a better idea of just how much starting capital you'd need (because it'll give you a better concept of how many copies you need). in 99.99% of all cases, a patent will just be additional overhead, and won't actually do much to protect you.

if you're trying to license to a publisher, they will pay for the patent themselves if they think it's worthwhile. figure out which publishers feed games to the store type your game fits in, and look for their submission policy on their website. if it's not present, email them and ask what it is. if they say they require an agent... advice will vary, my advice is to look at a different company.

that's just a rough start, like i said, without knowing more about your goals or the game itself, it's hard to be specific.

jen121
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Joined: 04/25/2010
wow, thanks

Wow, thank you so much for responding. I have gotten books and looked up articles and I feel like your response is much more helpful. I am the type of person who prefers a direct answer. The books and sites i've searched are all mixed info.

As far as my game, it is entertainment for young girls. I originally created it back in high school for my little sister and friends. They played it many times and loved it. I found it in my closet a couple weeks ago and really think it could be a hit.

I think i'd opt for the license to a publisher. I am operating a business right now, and don't have much time to put into it. I am not in a rush or anything either. But I do want to get the ball rolling.

Just curious... Why do you advise against an agent? I agree in the sense that I can probably make the submissions on my own. If a company decides to publish my game... how do I work out the profits? Will I make a percent of the sales or do they just buy the game free and clear. Sorry if I sound like a newbie, I really don't know anything about this game stuff.

I am creative and persistent and I think that's another reason I'll be successful :)

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
jen121 wrote: Just curious...

jen121 wrote:

Just curious... Why do you advise against an agent?

Most agents take 40% or more of what is already a small slice of the pie. Designers don't make much in general. Don’t pay anything up front.

Of course the type of game you’re taking about may need an agent to get it to the type of company that would publish it.

truekid games
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Joined: 10/29/2008
dralius is right, agents will

dralius is right, agents will take 40 to 60% of what you make. the standard arguement, however, is that if they're the only way to place a game at, say, Hasbro, then that's what you've got to do- and that half the pie is better than no pie (especially if that pie is much much bigger than one you'd make with a smaller company).

however, my experience with agents is that they view games as a "toy"- as in, does this game have a cool title or gimmick, or cool components, and does the front of the box sell the product? they're not looking at it as a game, and whether it's a -functional- or -good- game is generally 4th or 5th in the consideration (if at all), after other things like licensing potential and cost to manufacture. which is fine, they're in the business to provide things that move off the shelf, i don't fault them for that standpoint.

moreover, any company that says they're agent-only (Hasbro, Mattel, Ravensburger), really means "agent or adequate networking". The networking is WAY more work than most people can invest.

on top of that, we've got a forum full of designers here- and i've yet to see a single "i licensed XYZ through an agent and was happy about the end result" success story posted here. (someone feel free to prove me wrong).

that's not to condemn all agents, and it's entirely possible that the right one is just waiting for a game like yours. But my pessimism will still state, at best, do not use an agent that requires an up-front fee. remember, an agent is an extra approval step in an already rejection-centric process. most agents will decline most games. if they charge first, you'd have to look at that money as 99.99% lost upon submission, based on the odds of them accepting your game (very low), and then even if they do, the odds of them placing it successfully (also very low).

----

A game for young girls would probably be either mass-market or boutique (gift shop, small specialty toy shops) targeted. go into the store of your choice and start picking up boxes (especially ones targeted at the young girl market), make notes of the companies and websites on them, and go from there.

if you successfully license a game to a company, the norm is considered to be you earning royalties on sales of the game- between 3% and 8% (usually 4 or 5%). sometimes with an "advance" on the royalties- a couple thousand dollars of non-refundable money that is considered your royalty payment until sales exceed the amount that would generate that much, then you start earning as normal. (if you did it through an agent, that would mean your end cut would be half of those estimates- 1.5% to 4% of sales). occasionally it will be "work for hire", where they buy the concept outright with no royalty payments. figures for that vary wildly.

AlexWeldon
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Joined: 04/06/2009
Further advice

In addition to the advice given so far:

Don't just design one game and look for someone to publish it, intending to design your second game after you get the first one published. If you're serious about game design, you should be working on games constantly. Chances are, after you've worked on a few, you'll look back at your earlier designs and realize they aren't as great as you thought. Maybe you'll see ways to improve them, or maybe you'll drop them from your portfolio and replace them with newer, better ideas.

Either way, when you approach a publisher, if you have three or four of your best designs to show, that makes you three or four times more likely to score a deal.

Once you get your first game published, things should become easier. This winter, I got my first publishing deal. The game isn't even on shelves yet (should be soon), but just based on feedback from distributors, the publisher is excited about the potential, and asked me to come to another meeting a couple of weeks ago to show him some of my other designs. The result is that I already have a deal with him to publish a second game in the fall. I didn't even have to show him all the games I brought to the meeting - he loved the second one I showed him, and told me to save the others for now, and we'll have another meeting after we get this one off to the printer's. So it looks likely that in another few months, I'll have a third deal with the same guy.

Also, keep your first games small and cheap to produce. My first two designs were for European-style board games with lots of components. They're both good, and one is sufficiently great that I'm sure it will be published eventually, but I haven't had any luck getting them published yet because their production costs are too high for most publishers to take a chance on an unknown designer. My first published game, by contrast, is a card game consisting only of a small box, 45 cards and a rulebook. This is a much more manageable risk for a publisher. If this one sells well, maybe wins an award or two, etc., then it'll be much easier to convince someone to put down the cash for something larger.

jen121
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Joined: 04/25/2010
Great info! I am learning so much :)

Hi again,

I went to walmart today and took note of some publishers that have created games similar to mine. I still have to playtest and revise it. It will be a slow process but it's something I've always wanted to do.

As far as a second and future game, I don't know if there will be any additional games. I am mainly doing this because it was an idea I had years ago. I run a business, so I am not looking to devote my time to game design. But who knows, I may have a knack for it lol.

My game also has a low production cost. It is a card game with a rule book. I agree with that being a benefit to help get it published. When I do the submissions, should I be careful about giving them all of my game info? I would want to be the fool that got their game stolen! What really keeps a publishing company from just getting someone's idea and creating the game without them?

EdWedig
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Joined: 09/15/2009
jen121 wrote:My game also has

jen121 wrote:
My game also has a low production cost. It is a card game with a rule book.

Have you considered using a Pring-On-Demand company to print you game? I believe that Guild of Blades and Gamecrafters both offer POD cards. You could setup a small website to sell the game, and print copies as determined by orders.

jen121 wrote:
When I do the submissions, should I be careful about giving them all of my game info? I would want to be the fool that got their game stolen! What really keeps a publishing company from just getting someone's idea and creating the game without them?

It's pretty unlikely that a company will steal your idea. Many companies have more ideas than they know what to do with, and so may not be interested in stealing your idea, and putting in the effort to make a playable game out of it. They would rather spend the time developing their own ideas, not someone else's. It's a lot easier for them to buy a completed game from a designer and then produce that.

-Ed Wedig
www.edwedig.com
Offering graphic and web designer services to small publishers, since 2004.

dimitristi
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Joined: 05/26/2010
Is it either/or?

Hello,

If I choose to self-publish - either by Print-On-Demand or by using a site to sell one copy at a time (see e.g. thegamecrafter.com) - does this mean a publishing company or an agent will not consider the game I have been running through my POD or thegamecrafter.com site?

On one hand, proving that some people have actually bought or played or at least downloaded a game should be a positive indication to an agent. On the other hand, will this be considered as me having given away my game mechanics/idea and as such reducing its value? Any agents out there that can confirm one of the two notions? Any developers that have been refused representation or publishing on the grounds of existing self-publication?

Thanks in advance
Dimitris

Disclaimer: I am not in any way related to thegamecrafter.com.

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