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Paying for "Reviews"

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jonathanflike
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Hello Everyone,

I was listening to the Board Game Design Lab podcast with Undead Viking about how he receives payment for his reviews, making them more or less adverts for a game and not reviews. I looked up some other reviewers who do this, and they put the advert disclaimer in the beginning of their videos. I found that they have a large amount of dislikes, and in many cases, the comments are closed on YouTube to avoid the angry comments. The dislikes and the hate these videos seem to get is not really a reflection of the game, but of the reviewers method of monetizing the format, but I'm wondering if you all think it's just too toxic to give your games to these people to "review." I'm wondering if the views are even helpful if people just go on the page to dislike the video because people disagree with the monetizing. Are these adverts helpful or do you think this causes more harm than good?

Best,
-Jonathan Flike

questccg
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Technical correction

They are called "PAID PREVIEWS" not reviews. And they are purposely asking a reviewer to take time out of his busy schedule to "preview" a game that will be crowdfunded some time soon.

Now the part about taking time out of his busy schedule is real. And what this means is many of those who do KS previews will ask a fee to write or do a video preview. The format is simple, they present the game, the basics about how to play, and usually a small commentary at the end. Some reviewers will go as so far to tell you "If they don't like the game – they will NOT do a preview". Undead Viking is one of those reviewers...

Yes it costs some money, but if a popular reviewer gives you a POSITIVE review ... well that's good to put on your KS page for everyone to see. You can do similar with written previews too. Some will add what they liked about a game, or perhaps an interesting mechanic, etc. It all varies and so does you mileage.

Is it worth it? Yes definitely a couple paid previews (maybe one video and one written article) can go a long way in spreading word about your game. Think about the large reaching previews ... which you'll probably need to pay for... but in the end that extra reach may be needed to help promote your game.

I'll be honest, I'm glad that Lance gave us a preview and that he personally endorsed our game which came in a little box at that time. We also got a playthrough preview from "Board To Death TV" in Montreal... That was also cool because it was LOCAL (for me). We paid $50 for a written preview by Club Fantasci (Maurice or David) which reached about 5000+ readers.

So don't think that there is any negative comments or fact that videos have locked comments... What you should be focusing on is MARKETING and getting the word out about YOUR game. Paid previews is one such angle and is very worthwhile if you can manage to get a couple strong reactions.

It's one of many avenues... But if you are starting from the ground up, well you'll definitely need some previews.

Cheers!

Jay103
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Another way to think of it,

Another way to think of it, as a designer, is paying someone $100 (or whatever) to make you a video about your game. Not a bad deal.

I'm heading toward previews right now.. one of the reasons I needed to make sure I had a website running, because I'm not sure they're all going to hit on KS launch day.. might want something to run early.

questccg
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Mileage

Just as a follow-up, for "TradeWorlds" we got about 8 previews/reviews. I had contacted over 12 of them because they each had wide audiences and local gaming crowds. I even sent copies down to "Mexico" for a review from them ... but the review never seemed to materialize.

That's also something I forgot to mention in my earlier comment.

Even if you make contact with a reviewer, they may not do the preview. And yes some of those were FREE too. So if you absolutely WANT people to know about your game, be ready to pay a bit for a couple previews...

But at the same time, reach out to other reviewers with smaller followings and see if they are interested in giving you a hand with "presenting" your game to their following.

If you DON'T do it... it's going to look odd. No previews, video or written?! Nowadays that's one of the components of a good KS page. If it's the money you are concerned with, I'm sure you'll spend a ton more for artwork or Facebook ads (to build a small community).

I'm sure you'll get other responses from other designers.

jonathanflike
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No problem with compensating reviewers

Oh yeah, I have no problem with compensating reviewers for their time, I was concerned because of the reaction from the community. I totally agree with doing everything you can to get exposure. I just didn't want to pay for these previews/reviews, and community members look at them and say to themselves,"oh this game must be bad because they paid for a review/preview." Like I said, it didn't seem like that was happening to the games, it seemed like the hostility was being directed towards the reviewer/previewer. I've noticed this on Undead Viking videos and on Man Vs. Meeple, etc. I guess you can't please everyone, so maybe these people unhappy with the monetization are a minority? But if you aren't overly concerned about this then I'll go ahead and do the reviews/previews when the time comes. This was just something I stumbled upon with the podcast and I didn't know was a problem.

ssm
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Have you thought that maybe

Have you thought that maybe some of the negatives are due to the fact that 1-the viewer sees what is being talked about and can't agree that something that looks bad actually looks good? 2-That they are all upbeat no matter what? 3-Etc...
I like core Dice Tower stuff because they tell it like it is. They get paid to do it and have no problem holding something up and stating that it looks bad or that a part of the game seems wonky. Others tend to not do that.
I feel the viewers can usually tell if someone is just being paid because of their name or if they are being paid because of their name and their upfrontness.

The Professor
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Reviews vs. Previews

Just to echo some of the comments which were previously made in this thread...

Compensation is completely reasonable for someone who is spending time and effort to put forward a quality video and preview of a game. In sharp contrast, a review should NEVER be compensated (save a copy of the game). As someone who works in this industry (albeit in a part-time capacity), I certainly accept compensation for myriad projects as both a published designer and developer (playtesting, editing and proofreading, etc.), but I would never accept payment for my review of a game...only to provide my skills.

questccg
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Joe is right... Previews are paid, reviews are not.

So why have a "preview"??? Well if you want to explain HOW a game is played this is something that a "preview" would allow to be explained. And if it is in Video form, all the more reason to pay for the time filming and editing of the Game's Preview Video.

And yes, in a "preview" some reviewers might add what they LIKED about the game and is it something other gamers might like to play too. You kind of want that "thumbs up" type of ending... But some "reviewers" won't do previews UNLESS they enjoyed playing the game.

We also know that Tom Vasel who a couple years back was doing a lot of paid previews, stopped doing it ... instead favoring reviewing games that are on the market instead. Lance Myxter will not do a video preview if he does not like the game or did not find the game mildly entertaining (to some degree).

Some written articles for "previews" are also paid because they need to take the time to "learn the rules from the rulebook", present how the game is to be played and edit all that content and provide a bit of feedback too! It also depends on the number of viewers/readers they have. Usually the wider the audience, the more that it will cost a modest fee for a preview.

But again "previews" are done in preparation for a Kickstarter, while reviews are done when a game comes to market and people want to know more about "What is this NEW game about?" and that's when the reviewers take a closer look...

bluesea
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My question is what is the

My question is what is the ROI for a paid preview? Is a paid preview something that really adds to a kickstarter campaign or are you just expected to have one? Could that preview budget be better spent on targeted advertising?

As a counter example to a game needing a preview: in this recent kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com/projects/travishancock/deadwood-1876-a-safe-robbing-...) the publisher raised almost $600k with no reviews.

I don't mind a preview if it is clearly labeled as such and the game is presented neutrally. The video starts to feel funny when the presentation of the video shifts from preview over to review-mode and typically injects an overly positive opinion about the game. The video then runs the risk of coming of as feigned enthusiasm. In the end though, I don't assign fault to overly zealous previewers because enthusiastic previews are symptomatic of an overarching industry feedback loop that encourages positive reviews, generally.

The Professor
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Great example, but...

bluesea,

I just read an article about Facade Games and they've had great success, and clearly without the need for reviews. However, they prove the exception, not the rule. I examine all Board Game-related KS at the beginning of each month and I can tell you that my analysis reveals a wide cemetery of failed KS, many of which came to their untimely demise due to a lack of illustrations/art, strong videos, and/or reviews by competent, well-known reviewers (Radho, Undead Viking, et al).

I'm not at all saying you can't run a KS without them, but you would be the exception and you do so at your own entrepreneurial peril.

Cheers,
Joe

jonathanflike
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I agree

I agree with The Professor on this one. Even if you aren't getting a ton of eyes on those particular videos, it only helps your game to have it Googleable (is that a word?) and have lots of content pull up. The biggest problem I run into with Kickstarters, just from my own anecdotal research is I can't find good information on the game, or the rule book, or the Facebook, etc. It seems to me people fail oftentimes because they drop the ball at the last minute and don't do reviews or post information about their game online or even upkeep the online presence they do have. My only concern, which has already been addressed was what other people thought of the pay model.

Jay103
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bluesea wrote:My question is

bluesea wrote:
My question is what is the ROI for a paid preview? Is a paid preview something that really adds to a kickstarter campaign or are you just expected to have one? Could that preview budget be better spent on targeted advertising?

As a counter example to a game needing a preview: in this recent kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com/projects/travishancock/deadwood-1876-a-safe-robbing-...) the publisher raised almost $600k with no reviews.


Hey, they stole my dice mechanic! :p

(and by "stole", I mean they did it before me :) )

Anyway, as for their reviews, you don't really know what their marketing looked like. Maybe they started with a big mailing list, got a boost because Wil Wheaton played it, or who-knows-what...

questccg
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I think you are generalizing

bluesea wrote:
...I don't mind a preview if it is clearly labeled as such and the game is presented neutrally. The video starts to feel funny when the presentation of the video shifts from preview over to review-mode and typically injects an overly positive opinion about the game. The video then runs the risk of coming of as feigned enthusiasm. In the end though, I don't assign fault to overly zealous previewers because enthusiastic previews are symptomatic of an overarching industry feedback loop that encourages positive reviews, generally.

And I think if it was your OWN design... You would probably have a different opinion too. I think reviewers that are doing paid previews are walking a tight line. Didn't your mother teach you: "If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all..." And this is also about the media Politically Correctness too. Nobody wants to be told "their baby is ugly." So I think focusing on the positives of a game is the best approach.

We all think our games are the "best". But in truth, this is not possible. There are older games in the same genre or theme which are played by many more players. Is that the ultimate litmus test? Well it goes a long way to say that hundreds of thousands of people have played a game versus maybe only a hundred(?!).

So I think being more PC is what having a "preview" with a commentary. Sure you might need a video presenting HOW the game is played. But at the same point, it would be nice to have some "kind words" at the end... To encourage backers to buy the game... Or at least give the impression that the game is not pure rubbish.

That's where I think you "miss the point" and where PC "previews" make sense. Everybody wants to know what OTHER people think. If having a "thumbs up" helps foster a community of backers, I don't see what is wrong with that. Like I said if the game has reached a reasonable state where moments of the game make a player feel "smart" or a game makes clever use of it's mechanics... Those are some of the things that may "highlight" a game.

I'm glad you found the one (1) and probably only game of $600k that did not do reviews... But they did state Playtesters Comments/Feedback. That's even more presumptuous because they only state POSITIVE responses. With a "preview" the video and comments speak for themselves. So in a way, they USED feedback and put together the most positive statements given by playtesters... Isn't that even LESS PC (and therefore more biased???)

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