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Kickstarter to excite publisher?

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Joined: 04/13/2010

It is very difficult to get a publisher to publish your game if you haven't got any reputation as a game designer. Does anyone know how many copies an international publisher want to sell to be interested? And let's say you've got a kickstarter with X people already signed up for a copy. How big would X need to be to get a publisher interested?
My game is a card game. Around 100 standard size cards and nothing else. Would optimally want to reach both europe and north america... But that is of course a theoretical scenario...
Anyway, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this. Of course there is always the POD way, but I would like to investigate a "real" publisher as an alternative.

Joined: 11/19/2012
If your game is worth

If your game is worth publishing then someone will publish it.

Your biggest problem without a reputation is that YOU aren't experienced. You're not an expert at balancing games, you'll suck at pitching ideas, and for the most part you are going to stumble. You may lose out on a publisher because of a poorly worded email or because they find game-breaking balance issues soon after starting the game. Or heck... the publisher will just decide that it doesn't fit with their own line of games and you've done nothing wrong.

Publishers don't need you to be a big name. They need you to bring them a game that makes them excited both in concept and mechanically. They'll stake THEIR OWN big name reputation on the line to build an audience. As long as they believe in your game and they believe that you'll be good to work then you're good.

The keys to keep in mind.
-> Make the game marketable
Abstract games are insanely hard to sell. The same goes for "Boring" topics like farming or accounting. If you can't come up with a one line description that makes people want to play... the game probably won't be an easy sell.

-> PLAYTEST and then playtest some more... and then hire an army to playtest some more
Balance is an easy thing to mess up even for experienced designers. The only way I've found to fix it is to play the game thousands of times.

But this isn't enough. Because every persons brain works differently there will be strategies you've missed... or "Common Sense" things that other people miss. Get other people to test the game... dozens.... scores... hundreds whatever. You want more people with different gaming preferences and skill levels to be playing your game. This will help you root out some hidden flaws and enhance the game completely.

-> Know your stuff but be willing to learn
Research how to make games. Research how to get games published. Learn what to expect from publishers so you don't take it the wrong way.

This link has been immensely helpful to me:

But even if you, by some twist of fate you ,did know EVERYTHING, you need to prove that you're willing to be flexible. Many publishers have their own processes to work by or opinions how the game should be made. You're going to need to trust that the publisher knows what they're doing because they WILL make changes.

Publishers must have one talent*: spotting a profitable game when they see it. They don't need kickstarter to tell them it's a game they want to publish.

Joined: 04/13/2010
Thanks for the comments! A

Thanks for the comments! A lot of good advice.
I was just thinking that publishers earn their money by selling games. If you have 10.000 persons signed up for a game on Kickstarter, then the publisher probably want to publish it (unless there are some moral/ethical problems with the game, and yeah, they probably want to try it first).
So, 10.000 persons is a lot. But would for example 500 be enough for a publisher? My question really relates to what volume must be reached for a card game in order for a publisher to make a profit.
My guess is that having many signed up for a game on kickstarter will help you "sell" the game to publishers.

Joined: 11/19/2012
I'm no expert here... but

I'm no expert here... but I'll mention how I think it works.

The volume that a publisher will need to sell depends entirely on the publisher. Larger print runs by bigger publishers will cost far less money per copy than a print on demand service of a small publisher This means that the amount you need to sell relates to the number of copies printed and the markup on each item.

As for specific numbers, I can't give you any because I'm really not sure.

The other worry regarding running a kick-starter is that you'd be tying the publishers hands regarding changes that they want to make. If you've marketed the game as a medieval dungeon crawl, a publisher won't be able to re-theme it to fit into their science fiction line of games. Theoretically, this could end up hurting you rather than help.

JustActCasual's picture
Joined: 11/20/2012

The other big problem here is that with kickstarter the people haven't signed up as merely interested: they have signed up to get a copy of the game. You must be able to fully complete these orders regardless of whether you get published. Even if you get 10000 orders it doesn't guarantee you'll get a publisher: mainstream publishers have their own distribution streams, and don't want to deal with shipping 10000 copies to private residences.

Obviously having a record of solid sales can help sell a publisher, but the main determinate is going to be whether they like the game and want to work with you. If you go into this Kickstarter plan without a feasible plan to deliver the games you promise you are likely to dissuade publishers from working with you.

Horatio252's picture
Joined: 03/13/2011
Kickstarter and Publisher are Opposites

Kickstarter and being picked up by a publishers are opposites. If you've designed a great game, either go the Kickstarter route or pitch it to a publisher. If you go the Kickstarter you are self-publishing. The assumption is that you will successfully have sold most of the copies that the boardgame market is willing to to buy of your game. If you've run a good Kickstarter then there is no one else for a publisher to sell your game to. If there is no one else to sell to, then there is no money for the publisher to make by publishing your game.

You might try pitching to publishers first, and if no one bits, then do a Kickstarter.

You might get picked up by a publisher and they might choose to do a Kickstarter. This does not start with you doing a Kickstarter. They invest in your game FIRST, then THEY run a Kickstarter.

I hope that makes sense

Joined: 04/13/2010
Ok, that makes sense! Thanks

Ok, that makes sense! Thanks for everyones input!

Joined: 06/07/2012
The link provided by McTeddy

The link provided by McTeddy is a great link, lots of useful advice.

Beyond the advice its worth reading for this line alone

“You can’t have a board game without a board! No one’s going to buy a board game without a board!”

Made me laugh the first time I read it and every time since.

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