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Needing recomendations for publication options

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 05/25/2010

I haven't talked about what I would consider my primary project here since it's not a board game but a CCG but I figure you guys know more than I do about this.

I'm at a point in design where the game is done. I've tested countless hours, blind tested, and tweaked until I was blue in the face. I've probably dumped more hours into this than I want to consider but I've always known there was a wall at the end of my proverbial path--artwork.

Artwork for a boardgame is relatively simple, or at least there isn't 100's of pieces required. A ccg is different. Each card needs it's own art. That means for a game with 220 cards in it's first set, 110 in set 2 and 3 (which I've already designed), even just getting the first set out of the door would be an unimaginable expenditure, let alone continuing the project. Sourcing quotes from artists online, I figured I was looking between 20k and 50k to commission the art myself. This for a self published game is just obscene (or at least is for me).

So my question is thus.

Is there a better way you may be aware of to commission art for a ccg without robbing my child's future and sinking stupidly into debt?

And assuming no, because I did try for a good 6 months to find a cheaper way to no avail. I figure my only other option is the use a publisher. The issue is getting a publisher to look at a ccg. Since the project is obviously large any of the publishers I find online seem to deal with smaller boardgame projects (which have less overhead) or are so large they are impossible to approach (see: hasbro/decipher/etc.). Does anyone have any ideas on a publisher or even an idea as to how to find a publisher for such a large project, or am I just biting off more than I can chew?

I want to self publish, just because i'm a control freak when it comes to this project, but if it's not practical (which is suspect), what are the best ways to approach publishers with a ccg?

Thanks all.

rcjames14's picture
Joined: 09/17/2010
The Holy Grail

A CCG, yeah? Cool beans. I'm envious. From a design standpoint, I'm not sure if there is any tabletop game that is more difficult. And, from a marketing standpoint, there's really no bigger hit if you can hit there. Nice.

But, here's the dilemma:

Almost all CCGs fail. And, most CCGs do not make back what they cost to make. So that means that there is a lot of risk and anyone with the capital required to make one will probably balk at that risk (afterall, they probably accumulated that capital by being risk averse). And, in addition, those people who would entertain the idea of being in the CCG market probably already are.

So... unless you have a CCG that is tied to IP in other media with a pre-existing fan base, or you have the ability to coordinate the release of the property in multiple media at the same time (card games, video games, tv/movies and comic books), you probably aren't going to find any publisher interested in acquire it. And, if one is, you would have to question their ability to realistically follow through.

As a result, whether you like it or not, you will be self-publishing this if you publish it at all.

So, if you can't do that, you're going to have to think about what you can do instead. I haven't seen your design (although I'd be happy to look it over if you want) but you could think about retooling it to a euro style stand-alone tabletop. This is actually what happened to the design for Race for the Galaxy. Before it was what we now know it to be, it was a CCG. So, if you can figure out a way to repackage the design, you could always approach publication through the backdoor. After all, Race is now up to what number of Expansions?! Blue Moon also comes to mind here, but that had the premiere hobby game designer in the world behind it.

However, it is also possible to build a cult following for a new self-published CCG and grow organically if it's really interesting to people and has a nifty thematic angle. But, that route will require you to find a couple of artists (and probably a concept writer) who are really cheap. As in free or close to free. If you look around, you may be able to find the gem in the rough of an artist that is both good and underexposed. If you don't care what style they draw (aka fanart people), you may be able to arrange buying art from them for about $10 a piece or so, which means that your initial set is going to cost you around $5k to make + whatever cost the POD place requires. But, here the real cost is your time because it will require a lot of research and possibly a few false starts before you get yourself in the position that you want to be in. You will also have to compromise the vision for the game in order to accommodate their abilities.

You can also try your hand a Kickstarter to help you gain exposure and raise funds for the game. It worked well for TM and Eminent Domain. But, they also put a lot of time into promoting it, it was already playtested quite extensively, Seth is a very good designer and they had a pre-existing fan base to reach out to.

Joined: 05/25/2010
The problem with getting a

The problem with getting a cult following, which is what i've been passively trying for a while now, is getting the critical mass of players required to keep people's interest. I can usually get about 5-10 folks playing when I post around and try to push out a new version but since those 5-10 people all have different schedules it becomes hard to find a game when you want to and people quit until eventually it's back to me and my closest buds.

I've tried finding a cheap artist for months with no's been on my "to do" list for what seems like forever. Let me know if you find this mythical unicorn and I'll personally cut you a check...

Kickstarter seems like you need a pretty well established group of people who are already ready to contribute before you begin, like you said, Seth already has a decent following and was able to promote from within. Plus, the thought of asking people for money is just bazaar to me. Maybe i'll try it, but for the time being I would like to attempt other means.

Any who, thanks for the thoughts, and If you want me to teach you to play, you know how to find me. I love teaching this game to people.

InvisibleJon's picture
Joined: 07/27/2008
How to succeed on Kickstarter - the brief version.

innuendo wrote:
Kickstarter seems like you need a pretty well established group of people who are already ready to contribute before you begin, like you said, Seth already has a decent following and was able to promote from within.
To succeed on Kickstarter, you need:
1) A good, professional-looking picture (or two) of a prototype of your project or art from your project. If this looks bad, you're almost certain to fail.
2) A good video, two minutes long or shorter. This video should lead off with an introduction to you, to personalize and humanize the project. The bulk of the video should be about the unbridled awesomeness that is your project. The end of your video should clearly state how donations are important and why the viewer should donate. Kickstarter projects without videos are much more likely to fail.
3) A clearly written version of your video pitch.
4) A compelling donation reward structure. The successful board game projects on Kickstarter have typically offered one copy of the game at (or above) the projected retail price of the game. Note that donors will typically place a much higher value on intangible recognition rewards, like having their name in the rules in a "Thank You" section, geting to name one of the cards in the game, or having their likeness incorporated into the art on one of the cards.
5) To send out updates every week, over and over. Keep talking to your donors. Keep the buzz and momentum up!
6) A good seed base. If you have a lot of Facebook friends and/or Twitter followers, that's a valuable and important resource. If you have an existing mailing list for your project, that's even better. Consider creating a Facebook group for your project before you Kickstart, to start building enthusiasm.
7) A domain name and a good-looking website. Being able to direct people to your website for more info makes you feel more reliable – safer to commit money to. You'll want to have this anyway if your project makes, so you can continue to sell products. I strongly endorse using Drupal and Übercart.
8) A press kit to send to reviewers and other sites that express interest. Include press releases, beta copies of the rules, sample cards and art, and your logo in formats suitable for print and web.
9) A target donation level. This should be how much you need to fully-fund the project, plus Kickstarter's percentage (5%?), plus Amazon Payments' percentage (2.8%?), plus federal income tax at whatever rate the entity that's receiving the donated cash (you, an LLC, an S- or C-corporation) is taxed at.

...that's pretty much everything I can think of, in terms of essential elements for Kickstarter success. For additional tips:
• Go to Kickstarter,
• Check out Eminent Domain, Alien Encounters, and Inevitable (three successfully funded independent board games),
• Check out successfully funded projects in other areas (movies, video games, etc.),
• Check out failed projects,
• Take copious notes on what worked, and what failed.
• Ruthlessly and shamelessly emulate the structure and style of what succeeded.

innuendo wrote:
Plus, the thought of asking people for money is just bizarre to me. Maybe i'll try it, but for the time being I would like to attempt other means.
If you're not comfortable asking strangers for $$$, Kickstarter is not for you. However, a successful Kickstarter project is very fulfilling and rewarding. It's amazingly heartening to see people you don't know donate money to you, solely on how compelling your vision of what you want to share is.

You won't know until you try, and the only thing you really have to lose is time and effort.

I wish you the best of luck with your project.

tridagam's picture
Joined: 03/23/2009
Read Side down

Self Publish...hum
It sounds to me you need Value...Value comes in many forms...20 years ago I was running a residential construction business, specializing in log and log accent homes. My designs and techniques were taking off. I found Value in the form of taking one of my employees and giving him 45% of the company. ( He did finish work...he was an artist with wood).

That turn out to be the best thing I ever did. It freed me up to work on the ideas, to make sure things went the way I wanted them to. He did the rest.

I had a good market idea; but, I could not handle all of the parts. by giving away 45% of my business I was able to apply myself to my dream and keep 55% of the rewards for realizing it. I too am a control Freak. I am also rational...I know that there must be something to control to feed my base nature.

I remember when the first playing cards (CCG) hit this part of Montana... They had contests advertised a year in advance at game stores and card stores in Missoula and Kalispell, with 1st place prize of a $1000...for 3000 dollars a year /3 years in a row you can build up a good following (That's how Golf got big in the USA...$$$)...if you don't get to where you want to be by then...stop kicking that dead horse and move on.

I went the Angel Investor way on my most resent endeavor...Games traditional do well during times like these. So it should be an easy sell...Draw out a five and ten year plan...get a book keeper to put the numbers down nicely. Find all the B.S. facts that you can, knock on that rich uncles door and ask for a 150K...100k was my first spends fast, so ask big!

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