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Online demos of physical games?

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curtis.lacy
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Joined: 11/14/2011

Hi, everyone. A thought occurred to me while I was listening to the State of Games podcast this afternoon, and I wanted to bounce it off the collective:

If I want to try a video game before I buy it, I can usually download a limited demo copy or something to see if it's something I'm likely to enjoy. With a board game, though, I don't usually get that chance (revoking access to a physical board after 30 days is tricky). However, if I could try an online version of the game before buying a physical copy, the publisher could control my access to the demo. This could also allow a publisher to test market games without fabricating them.

Has anyone heard of a company trying this in the past? Is the cost of developing the electronic version prohibitive?

questccg
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I think...

There seems to be software out there similar to Lackey for certain applications. Or other Virtual board applications. The problem is understanding how to apply the proper rules.

However I do not know if a 100% generic application is possible.

The other side of things is do you really want to develop an electronic version or would you rather develop a simulation instead. Electronic versions are probably a "later in life" application when enough resources are available - I would say.

However this does not prohibit making a simulation... A simulation could work well in demonstrating how the game is to be played, for example. I can also simplify the comprehension of game play. Sorta a "picture says a 1,000 words".

So you have a couple realistic possibilities which vary in complexity. A simple product preview with explanations, a simulation or a full blown electronic version.

Having seen what works on BGDF, I think option #1 is pretty good. That's not to say that option #2 opens additional doors, however it is more complicated (still simpler than a more complete version...).

The main problem with option #3 is people may expect to play free of charge. I mean unless you are selling a CD/DVD version for a particular platform and you a have an established fan base. In this case it is usually all about the name.

Best

questccg
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Funny

I find this funny: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7gIpfrQdAI

The comedy is priceless...

This one is also priceless: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vwNcNOTVzY&ob=av2e

On another level: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p9VyQ3vWbg

Dralius
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curtis.lacy wrote:Has anyone

curtis.lacy wrote:
Has anyone heard of a company trying this in the past? Is the cost of developing the electronic version prohibitive?

It would be pricy for a small company that might only printing a few thousand copies but big publishers could afford it.

Mr. Strange
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The difficulty, as I see it

The difficulty, as I see it is that board games are fundamentally cooperative, social experiences. Downloading a single-player game to try by yourself makes sense in a way that playing a virtual board game just doesn't.

I think this is one of the advantages of brick and mortar shops - they can sell games, run demos, and build community. It's a strength of the medium.

SLiV
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I think it's doable.

In fact, I am currently working on a pc version of the boardgame I am developping. Initially because I wanted to be able to test it with people abroad, but I suppose it would be just as easy to release it as a demo if I'm trying to sell the boardgame.

Of course, this works for me because I'm already familiar with programming and making pc games. Other companies might not find it worth their while to hire a programmer just to make an online demo, but I would do this just for fun anyway.

And I agree with mr. Strange, the real issue is the lack of social interaction. You can't simulate the fun of playing with your friends on a rainy friday night.

Grall Ritnos
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Joined: 02/07/2011
Avalon Hill

Avalon Hill actually has online demos of several of their products, which can be found here:

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=ah/products

The online demos are far from full versions of the game, merely a teaser to explain enough of mechanics to get a sense of the game. I've played through the Roborally demo once or twice, and one of the nice parts about it is that it actually provides a great way to teach someone the game. The fact that these demos are online also reduces the distribution issues. This type of strategy might be worth considering, although it is obviously somewhat limited in scope.

questccg
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I am not 100% certain

Mr. Strange wrote:
I think this is one of the advantages of brick and mortar shops - they can sell games, run demos, and build community. It's a strength of the medium.

The main thing with brick and mortar is that the have a pre-arranged schedule. Really I'm not sure what motivates them... Because they don't seem to support local development.

As far as building a community, well that is something more worthwhile if you can get a couple of designers to work together... More than that and it seems rather unlikely. If you look at BGG you will see that most products published usually have one designer (or two) and then a bunch of artists...

Even if you have a nice community, it does not imply that the community will support future development. Some communities are all about a specific product and that is it. In these situations, how do you make it so that the community, once established, actually makes the effort worthwhile?

Take for example a card product: I buy my cards and play - then what? How does the store benefit from this any further? So there is a community - it does not mean that the member will invest further.

That is why I am gearing my "current" product for an older audience. By adding an element of chance or risk, it's no longer about the game. It becomes about the outcome of the game... That is where all the excitement really is.

Marketing to children is too difficult: 1- they don't have any money, 2- they are highly influenced by advertising and popularity. Even if you have a wonderful product, you still need to teach them how to play. How do you do this? Kids like to run around... Most are not the type to want to sit down and play a game. This is usually something introduced to them by someone who is older... Then they may be interested in playing further. Again - maybe...

questccg
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Product evolution

Here is another interesting link: http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/File:Fnv_collector_edition-generic.jpg

It is sorta a "menage a quatre". You get the electronic version. You get an exclusive printed manual (which serves as an introduction), you get a deck of exclusive cards and you get a series of chips exclusive to the game including "Lucky 38".

Personally this is the space that I am interested in. It's where the thrill really is... IMHO.

questccg
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Recycling

questccg wrote:
Personally this is the space that I am interested in. It's where the thrill really is... IMHO.

Furthermore there is the recyclable aspect. High volume, leads to high demand... Some people like their product to be in "pristine" condition. The thing is, this is all based on community playing. However what if for once community playing meant each member made his own contribution.

So what's $20 bucks to play a game, really? Nothing big...

Nor harm, no foul. Plus you walk away with a game you can play at your leisure at home.

From a marketing perspective - I think it is genius. Your game is now suddenly an adventure and is exclusive (You just can't buy it anywhere - the experience is part of the thrill).

MarblesTheGame
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Outside of the box

I had a similar desire to let prospects preview my game as incentive to make a purchase decision. A significant problem in my case, regardless of development cost for an online version, is interactivity. The true measure of this game is playing it with others. An online setting isn't applicable. A demo could illustrate play but wouldn't be an optimal substitution. Without giving away the store, my objective was to offer a scaled down version that could be played as intended. Print and play aligned well with my objective with zero cost, except for a few hours of my time.

The free mini-game is similar to the full version except scaled for 2 to 4 players instead of 2 to 12 players. Some things were omitted to keep the focus on the core concept. In general, the free mini-game is one-third of the full version size in regards to game content. Not every game can be scaled back in this manner. Cards being the driving force of this game, mine was a good candidate. Various components are necessary but citing common substitutions resolved the "physical" constraint. There are creative ways to overcome most obstacles. To see how I accomplished the objective, open the following link:

http://www.marblesthegame.com/freemarblesminigame.htm

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