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Feasibility studies and other metrics

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questccg
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I was just wondering how most designers are working on their designs.

Specifically I was wondering if there was anyone like me, who has a tendency to want to "analyze" the feasibility of a game. What I mean by this is to try to figure out how you are going to "sell" your game. I guess it's because I am working with "Game-Types" that are very difficult to manage and require some level of success to be profitable.

Mostly I am talking about TCGs or CCGs. Neither which business models are easy to "follow". You need a very high investment to pull off either of these and then you need a "following" to make sure the game continues to succeed after it's initial impact.

Just recently *new* ideas concerning "Quest Adventure Cards - Version 2.0" have surfaced and I keep seeing if I can "re-think" the CCG genre.

So I was wondering, are any concerned about HOW to "sell" their game... Or are most of you just designing for the sake of "passion" & "creativity"??? I realize different people may be thinking about different aspects about their game. Some might be wanting to get published, others might want to see how a game can be sold, and others too might want to see if their ideas are the least bit possible...

It's tough because I feel the "Genre" is interesting ... but only if I can compare it to something like "Magic: the Gathering". Knowing a CCG to be that successful requires some form of creativity if you are going to even TRY to attempt it...

Also finding an "audience" is also a good question. Magic players won't give up Magic for another game... So the question is something for younger players that could compete with Yu-Gi-Oh! or Pokemon... To be real honest, I am looking at a "solo" game that could be expanded for a two (2) player duel.

Comments/Feedback/Questions are all welcomed. Let me know your thoughts on the subject matter!

Cheers.

JohnBrieger
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Feasibility / Marketability

Generally, yes!

After the first 2-3 playtests where I've seen player reactions to the game, I like to spend some time envisioning the game as final product. I make games in the hope that lots of people will play and enjoy them, so I don't want to put 100s of hours into a game that I won't be able to license to a publisher, or that only appeals to an incredibly narrow market segment.

I try not to let concerns about product impact my first design pass or concept, but I think it's worth thinking about the game as a product fairly early. I'm a designer by trade, so I'm used to thinking holistically about the market and audience for a project. For games, that includes complexity, theme choice, rough component costs, how much content I think should be in a core box / product, etc.

There are lots of great reasons to make games – and not all of them are about releasing for publication. But since that's my goal, I try to think about games as products and make iterations with that in mind. And I think that early focus and refinement has helped me when pitching to publishers.

ddiaz28
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I think it's important to

I think it's important to think about this stuff early on as well. When thinking about how to sell your game you have to think of the audience you are trying to target. That decision will definitely inform how you develop your game. For my prototype, I quickly realized after the first 2 playtests that it would be a 4 - 5 hour game the way it was. Sure, there is a market for long, strategic games, but I had already decided I wanted a broader audience, so I knew I had to do some serious streamlining. There's no downside in analyzing the feasibility of your game idea.

questccg
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I guess it would be the same for "board games" too

My personal interest is in "Card Games" (not board games) where the majority of components are "cards". My first game "Quest Adventure Cards(tm)" was a total and complete "failure" because I knew nothing about the "business" of selling and making games... My second game "TradeWorlds" went on to a successful Kickstarter with "Outer Limit Games" and we are in the process of working on making the latest prototype for some playtesting of "KS extras".

Having been through both a failure and a success, it really makes me think about the "viability" of a game. Like how to package and sell "Game X". How do I earn money after a Kickstarter? What are the options available to designers?? Would a service such as "The Game Crafter" be able to produce my game??? And then think about the components and if it would be possible to make the game or not...

And I use the word "success" very lightly. I haven't earned any money from the project yet... So we'll see what happens at the end of the project... How much is left over, what assets we have for future endeavors, etc. So it's not like any of us is capable to earn a living from "game making"... Which is why I don't advocate guarding ideas... The odds are your game will make very little money even if it is a success on Kickstarter.

Do it because you love "Designing Games" or you enjoy this as a "Hobby"... Maybe design a good (even great) game and see if you can get some fans of your game... And probably International recognition even though there are SO MANY games being made each and every year... It's becoming more and more challenging competing with large companies such as AEG, Mantic and others, who specialize in miniatures and sell for a higher price... That doesn't seem to stop people from investing in those pricy games either!

So I guess I personally want to figure out the "fiscal" side of things. Like: "Can this game earn any money?" LOL I know it seems strange ... but having gone through the process twice already, that is still the BIG QUESTION! So far I've experienced both and I haven't made money on either... Maybe on my 2nd game, I might "break even"! And it's an awesome game too... And that still means that I am in the RED over "Quest" which was a "costly", badly mismanaged endeavor.

Note: Small word of advice (personal experience), don't SELF-PUBLISH until you have AT LEAST one or two games that have been published by a Publisher! Self-Publishing is a very difficult process where YOU have to worry about ALL aspects of the project.

If you're inexperienced (like I was), that's a real easy way to get lost in financing your project.

A Kickstarter is less bad option, but also requires you to be familiar and handle all aspects of publishing in general (I personally knew nothing about crowdfunding when I designed and launched my first game)...

You've really got to do a LOT of homework when you crowdfund as an independent and you assume all the duties attached to it. So you really need to do all your research and understand all the process from start until delivery.

Note #2: Also NEVER crowdfund as an "individual" unless you have your campaign in January and can close the project and deliver before December. Why? Because you can't differ income as a company can... Companies don't consider funding as income. It's considered a "liability" until the games are mailed to the backers. Once that is done, in whatever year, then you have income.

Individuals don't have this benefit. So if you RISK crowdfunding at a later date, you also risk having to declare the money as an "income" and therefore you could land up paying taxes on the money even before you use it to pay for manufacturing and fulfillment... Paying taxes once the game is shipped to backers is fine (and normal). BUT you only have a year before the TAX MAN eats up your funds prior to the completion of your campaign...

So be aware of the "risks" of crowdfunding too! I'd recommend speaking to a Chartered Accountant and discuss the ramification of "crowdfunding" and collecting revenue (individual) as opposed to assuming liabilities (company).

ddiaz28
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When I first decided to start

When I first decided to start designing a game I definitely imagined Kickstarter as the way to eventually go. But after doing a lot of research I've definitely changed my mind and will try pitching to publishers instead. To KS a game, it seems like you are pretty much starting a game publishing company.

X3M
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The road that I had in mind so far

More of a failure story, so far.

3 years ago, a co worker suggested me to go with KS. He kept suggesting it. He never saw the game. Never played it too (obviously). Let alone, understood the designing process and demands of players.
Yet he kept telling me that KS was the way to go.

Most KS would only take a month or 2? My original game is not for public and took years to be completed. My simplified game might be for public. But it is not done yet.

So I am convinced that KS is not the way to go for me. Instead, another road is needed.
Publishers will also not work. Since there are none here that would be of any meaning to me.

I think that as soon as my game works. My player base will grow again. And this forum is the place to start.
If there is a lot of growth, player base of at least 50. I think that only then, I will contact someone who could help me publish.

I have absolute no idea about what numbers I should consider. There is notching in my neighbourhood to compare with.

questccg
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Funny ... I've heard something similar...

Something from a Boss, who kept telling me to "IndieGoGo" (IGG) my game so that we could double our earning from "crowdfunding". I eventually caved and agreed to try it (why not?!) and what happened was NOBODY backed the game. After an ENTIRE WEEK, I pulled the plug and cancelled the IGG ... because absolutely no one backer the game. From almost 1,000 backers on our KS, to 0 backers on IGG!

This means that A> You should listen to your gut, B> Kickstarter is the platform for publishing games, C> You have to be realistic about your expectations.

And I'll re-state the following facts in regards to KS:

  • First campaign created should expect 100 to 250 backers.

  • There are exceptions to this case, but generally speaking 500 backers is the limit.

  • If you want to be successful, you'll have to KS more than one (1) game. Maybe three (3) or more games.

  • Find someone (A Publisher) that is interested in co-developing your game and KS campaign.

These are just some "facts" about Kickstarter and how OTHER people have become successful with the platform.

Jay103
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I'm definitely interested in

I'm definitely interested in selling.

For me, that's part of the fun of it.. not just designing a game, but designing a game that can be manufactured at reasonable cost and then sold.

Of course, I'm not really GOOD at the marketing part, but I'm hopefully learning fast enough.

Quote:
Note #2: Also NEVER crowdfund as an "individual" unless you have your campaign in January and can close the project and deliver before December. Why? Because you can't differ income as a company can... Companies don't consider funding as income. It's considered a "liability" until the games are mailed to the backers. Once that is done, in whatever year, then you have income.

Well, I'm not sure THAT'S true. If I'm done with the Kickstarter on Jan 31, it had better not take me until December to deliver. If the KS is for a product that's 90% done, you should be able to deliver in like 4 months.

My plan is KS in early May, ending early June. July 1 getting stuff to factory. Hopefully I have it in hand 3 months later, Oct 1., and fulfillment complete by November 1 in the worst case.

But that requires most of the assets to be in place on May 1, which also helps the Kickstarter to sell. My original plan was to do most of the art afterwards (reducing $ risk if KS failed), but then I got a bit worried about trying to do the KS with 20% of the art, so.. yeah.

Quote:
There are exceptions to this case, but generally speaking 500 backers is the limit.

Also hoping this is not the case :)

But I'm also taking steps.. website two months in advance to try to collect an email list, plus an actual marketing budget, plus using an artist with a bit of a fan base won't hurt either.

questccg
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Reality bites...

Jay103 wrote:
Well, I'm not sure THAT'S true. If I'm done with the Kickstarter on Jan 31, it had better not take me until December to deliver. If the KS is for a product that's 90% done, you should be able to deliver in like 4 months.

Well I guess you don't fully understand how people (Crowdfunders) go into campaigns with only a Video and some promises... It can take upwards of a year to deliver. Especially with all of the "Stretch Goal" content which is required if you expect to attract more backers. This was not our case, but we had so much "Stretch Goal" content ... it took longer to deliver all of the artwork. So we advised our backers that we are a couple months late ... but hopefully the delivery will be only slightly delayed... But our KS will take more than 1 year to deliver...

Jay103 wrote:
questccg wrote:
There are exceptions to this case, but generally speaking 500 backers is the limit.

Also hoping this is not the case :)

The only way I've seen, and that was with my own game, is to strike a deal with a Publisher that has done Crowdfunding before and they have a list of backers they can contact to encourage the backing of a NEW game.

Otherwise without any history... that is an accurate statement.

JohnBrieger
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Taxes and spending

Note – you don't need to deliver inside of the calendar year, you just want to spend the money so you aren't taxed on it as income.

So as long as you pay all your artists, shipping, manufacturing etc before the end of the calendar year, you won't get hit with a huge tax bill if you are producing games as a sole proprietor w/o a company to receive the income and carry revenue/losses year to year.

Board game taxes are weird. The publisher for one of my upcoming titles, Piecekeeper Games, wrote a brief guide on taxes for a small boardgame company if you are interested.

questccg
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Exactly!

JohnBrieger wrote:
Note – you don't need to deliver inside of the calendar year, you just want to spend the money so you aren't taxed on it as income.

So as long as you pay all your artists, shipping, manufacturing etc before the end of the calendar year, you won't get hit with a huge tax bill if you are producing games as a sole proprietor w/o a company to receive the income and carry revenue/losses year to year.

The problem is that SHIPPING to "Backers" is a huge chunk of the money used for "crowdfunding"... And that's the LAST thing that happens. So you'll want to SHIP before your personal tax calendar's year.

And the only way to do that, is make sure EVERYTHING else is done...

My personal advice would be, don't wait until May... It gives you less than 7 months to ship the product to all your backers. Also you've got to be aware that usually "Stretch Goals" is EXTRA content you need to develop for Backers (and maybe exclusive rewards or price points, etc.)

No "Stretch Rewards" and you will maybe only reach your Funding Goal... Also no "Social Goals" and the word of mouth concerning the game might be sluggish (at best). You want to have BGG likes (Thumbs), Game Fans, Image likes, FB sharing, Tweets, etc.

Usually depending on the game, those EXTRAS may take a while to develop. Remember Backers are getting all that content FREE. But you as the publisher of the game need to get art done, playtest and make certain all those extras are good for the game.

This is MY advice: don't wait until May. The earlier the better. If you can't in January, February or March are good timing. April-May is late and towards the end (before summer) of the "Crowdfunding" season. Very slow through summer and back-to-school highlights the very end of the "Crowdfunding" season from September-November... December is slow due to Christmas... This was advice that I had gotten and our timing was kind of tough (May too) we are hoping to deliver by September...

Cheers!

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