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Selling 500 units. Realistic?

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Salamosam
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Joined: 05/19/2010

Hi folks, I'm working on a card game called Thief and am trying to secure funding from a lending institution to get it published. I've worked out that I can make a go of it if I sell 500 copies within six months. How realistic is that? Anyone achieved that milestone?

Thanks!

Fhizban
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Joined: 01/11/2009
welcome to the boards

welcome to the boards salamosam!

well, your question depends on the kind of game you try to sell. also it is important to know if you (or your company) are already established, how big your fan base (community) already is and the MSRP of your game.

without knowing that, i would say its only possible for a simple and cheap game when you have at least a decent amount of sales points. for anything just a big bigger or more complex/expensive i would say its not possible (6 months a 30 days = 180 days. 500 copies divided by 180 days is 2,77 copies per day). that means you have to sell almost 3 copies every day from now on.

you should really think about it. without more information my answer is NO.

Kirioni
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Joined: 09/20/2009
Hate to say...

500 in the first 6 months (assuming this is your first title) is highly unlikely. Without distribution, or other active marketing campaigns, or even with those it is a long shot.

GiggleboxGames
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Joined: 03/04/2012
Echo Echo Echo...

Did someone say "distribution"? :)

If your card game has mass public appeal, you would need to submit your game for consideration. Much information is available on our website and we'll gladly answer questions.

http://www.giggleboxgames.com/

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Kirioni wrote:500 in the

Kirioni wrote:
500 in the first 6 months (assuming this is your first title) is highly unlikely. Without distribution, or other active marketing campaigns, or even with those it is a long shot.

If you haven't accounted for the costs other than production here is a quick overview based on the traditional US distribution model.

http://www.discovergames.com/math.html

GiggleboxGames
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Joined: 03/04/2012
A Case Study

The overview percentages do match the data that I have collected. One minor point is the article title. This author uses the terms manufacturing/manufacturer when publishing/publisher are more accurate. A game designer who coordinates production is a self-publisher or publisher, if representing games designed by others. A manufacturer is more frequently the company outsourced to physically produce the games. Some publishers, especially larger ones, are also manufacturers.

Selecting the optimal market for the game is among the most important decisions. If flying solo with limited advertising funds, a campaign targeting those who would most enjoy the game can be both effective and economical. Formal marketing research is expensive. Common sense may not be as accurate but far less expensive. Advise from experts can be accurate and inexpensive.

One form of distribution is online sales. A case study that we recently developed references http://www.boardsandbits.com/. Use the following link to view the statistical information compiled by Alexa:
http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/boardsandbits.com

Under the Alexa Traffic Rank, there are 7 tabs. Click the third tab named "Audience".

The demographics for the Boards & Bits website:
* males
* 25-34 age group
* college educated
* approximately one-third have children
* browsing from home

Categories with red bars indicate segments of the internet population "greatly under-represented", the foremost reason Alexa states that the website's confidence rating is "low". Hover over the question mark icon for additional information. Low sounds bad but in regards to demographics, this rating translates to not of interest to the general Internet population.

Demographics for the Boards & Bits website align with the hobby community. Boards & Bits should be a great form of distribution because the hobby community is the perfect target audience. This potential is negated due to several factors. A tag line in the page header reads, “Over 3000 Items To Choose From”. According to another statistical source, at least 50 websites similar to Boards & Bits exist. Effectively, thousands of selections await visitors that are predominantly the same demographic set of hobby gamers. Whether online or distribution in retail outlets, sales can be conclusively defined as a long shot in such a supersaturated market. Recently observing at a store during two peak hours, not one hobby game was sold.

Online discounting is another deterrent. With such an expansive selection, competitive price shopping reduces the ability to make a profit. If not also competitive by discounting, other games may be more appealing based solely on price. Only established, popular games can command optimal pricing within the hobby community. The general public equates thousands of discounted items with flea markets. Unfamiliar with the titles, random visitors have no interest. In turn, the average person truly is "greatly under-represented".

There are many great books devoted to basic marketing principles.

Orangebeard
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Joined: 10/13/2011
Practice Sales Exercise?

Hi Salamosam,

Without knowing much about the game, it is difficult to say (I am inclined to agree with Fhizban here), but let's assume that this is possible with the right approach.

Hopefully, other board members will play along, but I am trying to think of what it would take to make it happen.

Let's say that on average 10% of the people that have contact with your game will buy a copy. This is an average and is meant to include any type of contact (played it, heard about it, saw it, etc) with the game. Do you have access to 5000 potential buyers in the next 6 months? If you are in the U.S.A, there are several major gaming conventions in the next 6 months that could give you access to these numbers and some of them have discounted booth rates for first timers.

Will you have access to multiple sales platforms? Online, booth, demo, local gaming store, etc. I think you would need to hit sales from every possible direction that is manageble for you.

What else would it take to sell 500 copies? Anyone?

I hope to see this released - good luck!

GiggleboxGames
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Joined: 03/04/2012
Fish and Ponds

About three years ago, a client developed an online version of his game with ordering capabilities. He also produced 500 copies utilizing a manufacturer in China. The concept was very creative. Even with various attempts at marketing, online sales were zero. Very common for newbies, hobby stores wouldn’t give him the time of day. Gift shops were receptive to purchasing a case of 12. His wholesale formula matched the one described in Dralius’ link: http://www.discovergames.com/math.html. I agree that this overview does align with the traditional US distribution model. Based on the comments of numerous designers, the hobby game model does not match the US distribution model for all stores possessing interest in games. Expectation of newbie discounting is a prime example. Gaming stores do cater to a perfect audience but the competition is overwhelming. Orangebeard is correct. Legwork is both necessary and challenging. In addition to gaming conventions, general business tradeshows that feature independent distributors should prove helpful. One is small fish - big pond compared to unique fish - bigger pond.

One philosophy of marketing is to first sell in your own backyard. What you learn will be invaluable.

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
Borrowing money to publish a game

My personal opinion is that borrowing money to publish a game has a high probability of leaving you with a debt and a garage full of unsold stock. Unless you are already well established in the hobby game industry or you have really good connections, 500 games in 6 months is just not going to happen.

If you are self-publishing maybe set your sights lower (100 units in 1 year), or try a different route such as print on demand or kickstarter. If it is a purely card game with no custom components, print on demand is definitely an option and requires no financial outlay from you. Alternatively kickstarter is a way of reducing your risk -- if you don't get enough backers then you don't print.

Regards,
kos

GiggleboxGames
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Joined: 03/04/2012
Production

Kickstarter is not a definitive measure of a game's marketing potential. Successfully funded game projects with high goal amounts are often joint ventures between the designer and a publisher to publish when funded. The publisher would not otherwise have or be willing to devote the financial resources to outsource production. These projects are heavily promoted with social media and banner ads. So, it is more accurate to say "when funded" than "if funded". Newbies do have a long shot when their game is presented well, the goal is reasonably low and marketing effort is exerted.

On Kickstarter, we are currently backing 18 projects and at least one may be included in our product line. Whether or not successfully funded, there are methods of producing games in shorter runs. Card games are much easier to produce than board games.

Print-On-Demand does have many advantages. Making a profit is rarely among them. Cost is high and online sales are dismal. Actually, 100 units in 1 year may be unachievable trying this route. I agree with kos. Borrowing money, but without having a solid business plan, would certainly prove disastrous.

A short run solves a few problems. Games in hand should result sales that would not otherwise occur. A small inventory is necessary for conventions and tradeshows. Factor in shipping for copies of your own game when utilizing print-on-demand services. Many local commercial printers can produce full-color cards. Use a quality, glossy cardstock. Ensure the thickness is appropriate and durable. Custom dimensions are possible from hydraulic cut. Commercial printers often decline game projects because without prior experience, they initially presume excessive complexity. You need to meet with them and demonstrate your objectives. Offer a small printing credit on the game to negotiate better pricing. Establishing a long-term relationship opens opportunities for flexible pricing and shorter runs. Pricing is negotiable and merely the willingness of the vendor. Art set-up should be a one-time fee unless revisions are applied in later runs. Shop around to get the best deal but ultimately form an ongoing relationship with only one commercial printer.

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