W. Eric MartinUnited States
Steve Jackson Games has published its annual stakeholder report for 2022, with gross income from the year being "a bit north of $4.7 million". Notes outgoing CEO Phil Reed: "We could have booked a small profit; for tax purposes we dumped some slow-moving inventory and showed a small loss. (Let's see a Fortune 500 company give you a report that explicit, never mind doing it in two sentences.)"
Two sections of the report are worth quoting as they mimic what I hear from other publishers and go hand-in-hand with one another:Quote:Direct SalesI've written about publisher frustrations with distribution previously, but the topic was on the lips of many once again at GAMA Expo 2023, with publishers making strong pushes to retailers to place direct orders.
As distribution sales continue to...change?...we have explored more direct sales opportunities. There are few things as frustrating as hearing "when does this come out?" when the game in question shipped months ago, so we devoted more energy to growing our direct sales – to gamers and retailers – in 2022. Our new Shopify store went into testing late in the year. We put an awful lot of work into every game, and we want to make sure that you find out about it. We'd love it if you buy it, too, but first you have to find out about it.
We had another strong year on Kickstarter, running a lot of large and small campaigns and seeing success in every single one. Kickstarter the marketplace has been good to us, and Kickstarter the corporation has become a valuable partner.
A downside that didn't become apparent until the year was over: Some people saw how much we were using Kickstarter and assumed that we had to do it for cash flow. Nope! We did it because it got a lot of games into the right hands and let us control inventory more effectively. The cash flow was just a lovely bonus.
In general, distributors don't care about moving specific products; they care about moving whatever they have on hand. I've heard that a distributor needs to move 90% of an item before it makes a profit on that item, and that threshold encourages distributors to keep less of any one particular item on hand. After all, hundreds of games are released each month, so why bother restocking game A when games B-F are on the way? We sold out of A, which means we made a profit on it, so let's not re-open that door and risk having goods stuck on hand.
As a result, distributors don't have an incentive to push any particular product, which is a letdown for publishers since they would very much appreciate distributors pushing their products to retailers. Since that's not happening, publishers are promoting direct sales to retail stores — not specifically to cut out the middleman, but to ensure that a store that wants a particular item will have access to it. (I've seen plenty of stores complain that game X is unavailable from distributor Y and Z, with the publisher responding that game X is in stock at their warehouse, so...drop us a line.)
That "direct sales to store" approach would be ideal if not for three things:
1. Time: Ordering directly from publishers takes more time than ordering from distributors since you need to deal with each publisher independently. (This is one reason people order tires, honey, and socks in one go from Amazon rather than shopping at three stores.)
2. Space: Even with all the time in the world, a retail store has a fixed volume, and it can't possibly carry every game available, especially since a direct purchase from a publisher is typically for a full case (usually six or twelve copies), whereas a distributor will sell in smaller quantities. This is one advantage of ordering from distributors; you can keep a single copy of a game on hand, replacing it as needed.
3. Money: This ties into the space issue. If you order a case from a publisher, you'll likely pay less per copy than buying from a distributor — but you're buying more copies, and if those copies don't turn quickly, then you have money locked on the shelf that could be used for something else.
(A store's "turn rate" is effectively how many times it sells through its inventory in a year. If you have $50,000 of inventory on hand, and the cost of the goods you sold was $200,000, then your turn rate is 4 (200,000/50,000). To increase your turn rate, you can lower inventory on hand, carry only the top-selling products, do a better job of selling games, improve your marketing, etc. Having a high turn rate doesn't necessarily mean you're profitable since that depends on what you earned from selling those goods, what your other costs were, and so on, but better a high turn than low.)
(When I worked at a game store in the early 1990s, I vastly beefed up the miniatures and RPG section by bringing in older items that the distributors still had on hand, and while sales shot up due to the wider variety, the turn rate dropped a lot, which earned me a call from management as they wanted a higher rate. Placing smaller orders more frequently would lessen the cost of inventory on hand at any one time, while ideally still leading to more sales due to more diverse stock. This took more time on my part, but so be it.)
Thus, even when retailers do order directly from publishers, they don't tend to order everything from publishers — only high-volume games that turn consistently thanks to what's hot in their local market, promotion at game days, etc. They order the rest from distributors, and they still don't buy everything on the market...so if you're a publisher, you start looking for the even more direct route of selling directly to individuals. Hence Kickstarter.
After all, if I'm a fan of designer Y or game Z from publisher Ω, I will likely be looking from more, so why not market to me directly with whatever you have to sell. Maybe my local store doesn't carry your games, maybe I don't have a local store — doesn't matter. You don't know my circumstances; only that game Z has sold ∑ copies, which gives you some idea of how many expansions or spinoffs or similar games from designer Y you might sell, with the crowdfunding campaign giving the additional bonus of solid pre-order numbers, plus capital up front.
announced in 2022 that it would keep running annual campaigns for Thunderstone Quest expansions "as long as there's customer support". (Retailers in its "Alpha Store program" can also purchase these titles.) Apparently enough Thunderstone Quest players exist to support the design and development of new expansions, but not enough to support efforts to place those expansions in distribution.
AEG is using a similar sales tactic with a crowdfunding campaign for a quartet of expansions that I covered in mid-May 2023. I've seen comments from people who feel that AEG is too big to use crowdfunding for this campaign, that those games are wildly successful and it makes no sense to crowdfund them, but I would wager everything I own that these people have no idea how many copies of each game have been sold and what percentage of those games' owners purchase expansions. These people think they know how to run AEG's business better than AEG does, and I would suggest they are wrong.
Through this campaign, AEG can sell those expansions directly to players, get a better idea of how many to produce, and possibly pick up new players for those games thanks to the discovery process on Kickstarter. The same is true for pretty much every crowdfunding campaign out there, and it's why companies like CMON and Queen Games continue to run them. They want to boost their turn rate, so they're making decisions to improve the chances of that happening.
As PAX's Matt Morgan succinctly noted on my earlier AEG coverage: "No publisher should have to justify their use of crowdfunding. It serves an invaluable purpose for both big and small creators."
That said, naturally you have no obligation to support such campaigns. You can decide that company ∂ is untrustworthy based on past crowdfunding efforts, or it has too many open campaigns, or you don't want to pay today for games at some unknown time, or you've been burned by crowdfunding in general, or you want to actually play the game first, or whatever.
Just as companies have the freedom to use crowdfunding, individuals have the freedom to avoid companies using crowdfunding — but anyone complaining about company ∂ running a crowdfunding campaign is noise in the wind. It seems foolish to think that any of us know better than the publishers themselves when it comes to making decisions about what's best for their financial well-being...just as I would hope that others don't argue about me making decisions about what's best for my financial well-being.
• Okay, that was longer than I had originally intended, so let's close with the first video from new YouTube channel Above Board TV:
To submit news, a designer diary, outrageous rumors, or other material, contact us at email@example.com.
Archive for Industry News
Wed May 24, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Spiel des Jahres Nominations for 2023: Dorfromantik: The Board Game, Fun Facts, and Next Station: London
22 May 2023
Spiel des Jahres jury chairman Harald Schrapers and Kinderspiel des Jahres jury chairman Christoph Schlewinski announced the nominees, along with other recommended titles, on YouTube, with these three titles being nominated for Spiel des Jahres 2023:
• Dorfromantik: The Board Game, from Michael Palm, Lukas Zach, and Pegasus Spiele
• Fun Facts, from Kasper Lapp and Repos Production
• Next Station: London, from Matthew Dunstan and Blue Orange Games (and in Germany from HCM Kinzel)
Aside from these nominations, the SdJ jury recommended the following seven titles: Akropolis, HITSTER, KuZOOka, MANTIS, QE, Sea Salt & Paper, and That's Not a Hat.
Note that the Spiel des Jahres award is primarily aimed at family gamers, i.e., those who play games but aren't heavily into the gaming scene.
Nominations for the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2023 went to:
• Challengers!, from Johannes Krenner, Markus Slawitscheck, and 1 More Time Games and Z-Man Games
• Iki, from Koota Yamada and Sorry We Are French (and in Germany from Giant Roc)
• Planet Unknown, from Ryan Lambert, Adam Rehberg, and Adam's Apple Games (and in Germany from Strohmann Games)
The SdJ jury recommended two other titles at the Kennerspiel level: Council of Shadows and Mindbug. The Kennerspiel des Jahres award is intended for those already comfortable with learning and playing new games.
The titles nominated for Kinderspiel des Jahres 2023 are:
• Carla Caramel, from Sara Zarian and LOKI
• Gigamon, from Karim Aouidad, Johann Roussel, and Elemon Games (and in Germany from Mirakulus)
• Mysterium Kids: Captain Echo's Treasure, from Antonin Boccara, Yves Hirschfeld, Libellud, and Space Cow
The Kinderspiel des Jahres jury, which differs from the SdJ/KedJ jury, also recommended three-ish other titles: Douzanimo, Rutsch & flutsch!, and the My First Adventure game series, which currently consists of seven titles, with the first being My First Adventure: Finding the Dragon from Roméo Hennion and Game Flow. German publisher Board Game Box has released all seven of these titles in German.
The winners for all three awards will be announced in Berlin, Germany on July 16, 2023.
During the presentation, Schrapers pointed out that only one of the nominees came from a female designer — Carla Caramel from Sara Zarian — and he said that from the nearly 290 games that the jury considered for Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres, only eight of those were from female designers. Altogether, the two juries considered about 440 games, which was 10% more than in 2022.
The jury also presented two special awards — Sonderpreis — to Unlock!: Game Adventures from Cyril Demaegd, Mathieu Casnin, Thomas Cauët, Jeremy Koch, and Space Cowboys, and to Unlock! Kids: Detective Stories from Demaegd, Marie Fort, Wilfried Fort, and Space Cow.
Congratulations to all the nominated designers and publishers!
- Planet Unknown
- Unlock! Kids: Detective Stories
- Unlock!: Game Adventures
- Carla Caramel
- Next Station: London
- Mysterium Kids: Captain Echo's Treasure
- Fun Facts
- Dorfromantik: The Board Game
- Yves Hirschfeld
- Michael Palm
- Lukas Zach
- Johannes Krenner
- Matthew Dunstan
- Adam Rehberg
- Koota Yamada
- Karim Aouidad
- Johann Roussel
- Antonin Boccara
- Kasper Lapp
- Ryan Lambert
- Markus Slawitscheck
- Sara Zarian
- Pegasus Spiele
- Blue Orange Games
- Z-Man Games
- Repos Production
- HCM Kinzel
- Elemon Games
- Adam's Apple Games, LLC
- Sorry We Are French
- Space Cow
- Giant Roc
- 1 More Time Games
- Strohmann Games
Mon May 22, 2023 4:48 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
Klaus Teuber passed away at age 70 following "a brief and severe illness", according to Catan.com.
Teuber's first published game, Barbarossa und die Rätselmeister (later renamed Barbarossa), won the Spiel des Jahres, Germany's game of the year award, in 1988, and he quickly won two others for Adel Verpflichtet in 1990 and for Drunter & Drüber in 1991.
While those games are impressive on their own, they pale against the impact of 1995's Die Siedler von Catan, which has since been rebranded as CATAN to increase international recognition of this historic game. To quote from the Spiel des Jahres' memorial of Teuber:Quote:Not only was he able to win the title "Game of the Year" for the fourth time, it also led to a hitherto unique global boom in the games industry and made the term "German Boardgame" a seal of quality. The Settlers of Catan is a classic of outstanding playful quality.Spielbox echoes this sentiment in its memorial:Quote:Teuber is one of the most internationally successful game designers. The Settlers of Catan, published by Kosmos in 1995 and also named Spiel des Jahres, is unanimously considered by experts to be a turning point for games in general; the development of board games is separated into the time before and after Catan. Catan was probably the game that managed like no other to bring people closer to board games and was for many also the entry into the hobby of gaming. With Catan, Teuber, most recently with his son Benjamin, with whom he also ran Catan GmbH, created a true universe. Worldwide, more than 40 million Catan games and expansions had been sold by the beginning of this year.Teuber began his game design career as a refuge from his daytime work of running his father's dental laboratory after his father fell ill. As Börsenblatt editor Sabrina Gab notes in her profile of Teuber, he was initially inspired by The Riddle-Master of Hed, a novel about sorcerers by Patricia A. McKillip:Quote:"In McKillip's story there are very special duels: one person has to create a puzzle, the other has to guess it," explains Teuber. One day, when he stumbled across plasticine figures in his children's room, the idea for the game Barbarossa und die Rätselmeister was born: the task here is to solve plasticine problems.Once CATAN took off, Teuber became a full-time designer, enlarging his game universe year after year and inviting everyone else to play in it...Klaus Teuber at SPIEL '03 (image: Jon Power)
Tue Apr 4, 2023 3:53 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
International Gamers Award jury, passed away in mid-March 2023.
Herb was a regular at U.S. conventions, and I saw him at every NY Toy Fair that I attended starting in 2009 when I was running BoardgameNews.com. I was only a couple of years into my game-writing career at that point, and it was nice to get advice from someone who knew the ropes.
His son Daniel wrote the following obituary, with editing from Steve Kurzban and approval from Levy's widow, Lynn "Lamb" Levy:Quote:It is with deep regret that we inform all of Herb Levy's passing in the early hours of March 11, 2023 at age 73. Herb left us after spending an enjoyable evening playing board games with good friends and wife, Lynn, and passed peacefully in the night.
Herb created Gamers Alliance in 1986 and published quarterly game reviews until his passing. Gamers Alliance Reports (GAR) was the longest continuously published English-language game review newsletter. Herb was a legend in the board game community, writing up reports on game conventions. He was a fixture at the annual International Toy Fair in NYC and the American Game and Puzzle Collectors, winning their 2011 Bradley-Parker Man of the Year award.
Herb had one of the largest collections of board games in North America, rivaling that of his good friend and game author, Sid Sackson. The Levy family is looking for a boardgame website to house the GAR game review archives, as well as the eventual disposition of his massive collection — both for museum donation and sale.
Herb was a master teacher for over 35 years in one of the worst Brooklyn NYC neighborhoods. In retirement, he transferred those superior teaching skills to the game table, leading thousands of games for weekly Friday evening Long Island Gamenites since 1992 and still going strong today, but sorely missing his presence. Herb would patiently teach complicated rules to less-experienced game players. His own winning at the game table always took a back seat to making sure everyone enjoyed themselves. In later years his wife, Lynn, served as a sounding board for teaching games, and she joined in the organized gaming as well.
Herb was also a community leader as he brought people together his entire life, from game nights to family events. He was a great man in every respect. A supportive friend and brother, an excellent father and husband to his beloved Lynn, who spent 51 loving years together as an inseparable team.
After his passing, stories of good deeds and positive memories were shared by friends and relatives — evidence of a life well spent and with a positive purpose.
Though we all will mourn his passing, the legacy Herb leaves behind is unmatched. We will forever feel his presence with every roll of the die, every card drawn, and every game conquered. As Herb would say, "Game on".
Fri Mar 31, 2023 1:00 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
Ravensburger debuted Puerto Rico 1897, its new version of Andreas Seyfarth's game Puerto Rico, which debuted in 2002. In July 2022, I interviewed cultural consultant Jason Perez, who detailed the new setting of the game and how it incorporated elements from the history of Puerto Rico.
While the new setting has been welcomed by players, the production of the game has been marred with problems. When the game debuted in Essen at SPIEL '22, people discovered that their copies included 16 fruit tiles instead of 12 and only 4 coffee tiles instead of 8. Copies that arrived in retail stores in Europe in late 2022 had the same error, and copies released in the U.S. in February 2023 also had this problem — which is not surprising given that Ravensburger released a dual-language English and French edition, so the copies in the U.S. were the same as those released in France. What is surprising is that Ravensburger still released those copies in the U.S. despite the production error.
Aside from the tile misprint, for Puerto Rico 1897 Ravensburger had mirrored the graphic design of its 2020 version of Puerto Rico, which had removed all of the text from building tiles other than the building's name. As a result, to know what a building does, you need to look at the overview on the back of the rulebook — and this overview contains errors (e.g., the School providing an extra worker during the planting phase when it should be the building phase) and vague wording (e.g., the Harbor gives "Bonus VP at the time of shipping" and the Assembly Hall similarly gives "Bonus VP for shipping") that forces you to dig into the rulebook for the details.
And sometimes those details seem off. The back of the rulebook notes that the Distillery gives "Bonus coins for production", and if you then turn to the complete Distillery description a few pages earlier, you find this:Quote:The occupied Distillery works under the same rules as the Factory, except the owner earns bonus coins based on the number of barrels of 1 type of Good they produce. They choose the type of Good for which they produced the most barrels (any type except Corn) and earn 1 coin less than that number. For example, if Alex produced 6 Sugar, they would earn 4 coins in addition to the regular Production income.Wait, what? Do I need to look at the Factory description as a reference? Turns out that no, you don't since the Factory bonus is based on the number of types of goods you produce and it's not strictly "1 coin less than that number", so why mention the Factory at all? The Distillery has a "no Corn" restriction that you'll have to remember during play — even though you absolutely can distill corn — and the example doesn't make sense because 6 - 1 ≠ 4. Where's the error? Did Alex produce 5 Sugar, did he earn 5 coins, or do you earn 2 coins fewer than the number produced?New tile, who dis?
The U.S. branch of Ravensburger has provided me an update on the availability of Puerto Rico 1897 and how it plans to address some of these issues:Quote:With Puerto Rico 1897, Ravensburger took a best-selling, classic "Euro" game and reimagined it into a more welcoming and inclusive gaming experience for today's player. When the game hit store shelves in February, it came to our attention there were missing tiles and rule book errors. We apologize and have taken steps to ensure these issues are corrected as quickly as possible.I'll note that Ravensburger has been supplying four replacement coffee tiles since October 2022, so this is not a new fix. Even so, removing the game from retail outlets until all copies have been fixed is a much better solution.
We have stopped production of the game to guarantee that all copies of Puerto Rico 1897 moving forward will have the correct number of tiles and an updated rule book to support an ideal gaming experience. Those who have already purchased Puerto Rico 1897 and have missing "coffee" estate tiles can request the correct pieces to be shipped to them at no additional cost through this website: https://ravensburger.us/service/replacement-parts/index.html. Once the rule book has been updated, it will be available for replacement or to download digitally. At Ravensburger, it is our mission to create quality games with the highest craftsmanship that deliver timeless entertainment and shared moments of fun. It is our expectation that, with the corrections made, Puerto Rico 1897 will meet our players' high standards of excellence.
I've asked a follow-up question regarding the graphic design of the building tiles and whether they will be changed to include a short description of what the building does, something that existed in editions of Puerto Rico prior to the 2020 re-design. If I receive an additional response from Ravensburger or learn when Puerto Rico 1897 will again be available on the market, I'll post an update.Building comparison between PR 1897 and the 2011 edition of PR (image: Brian Phipps)
Thu Mar 16, 2023 5:27 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
Links: Hybrid Board Games, Cribbage Love, and Go That's Years in the Making
11 Mar 2023
Is it okay to enjoy wargames?", interviewing designers Volko Ruhnke and David Thompson to get their perspectives on what they create and what's off limits, if anything. An excerpt:Quote:When I started playing these games, I was surprised by the level of depth in the history and background of each of them. Most board games, even those based on a very specific setting, might only have a couple of paragraphs of background. Open a wargame, and you're in for a very different experience.• In late February 2023, the YouTube channel "Five or Eight" hosted Dr. Melissa Rogerson, a.k.a. Queen of BGG, to talk about her research on hybrid board games that results from her position as Lecturer in the School of Computing and Information Systems at The University of Melbourne:
The COIN games take an approach of only very lightly covering the scenario in the rulebook, but the playbooks have some great examples and expansions on those themes. I love the way the game delivers the history piecemeal, with each card representing a real-world event from the time. When I first drew the "Sinatra" card in Cuba Libre, it led me to Google, and in turn a rabbit hole of reading about his meeting with the heads of the crime syndicate in Cuba in 1946.
An ode to cribbage" for the NPR column "I'm Really Into", championing an activity that she and her partner really got into at the onset of Covid and stuck with as the months passed. An excerpt:Quote:After our first game, we developed a routine: on Friday nights we'd log off from work, head to the patio, and play cribbage. I'd put on a playlist that mixed jaunty Italian classics with sultry bossa nova, and for the next hour our patio was transformed into something almost luxurious. After flaunting my lead, then scoring three "19 hands" in a row (a cribbage insider's "zero," since scoring 19 isn't possible), we joked that I'd tempted the cribbage gods, who can't resist interrupting a prideful streak.• In January 2023, the news station WFSB in Connecticut hosted Jenn Bartlett from the Manchester Public Library to talk about that facility's 1,000+ game collection that's available for borrowing as well as the Silk City Board Game Group that's hosted there.
The rest of the week might be filled with anxiety, but Friday cribbage was our time to be playful, to flirt, to recapture the feeling of our early dating days and set the many small tensions of daily life aside.
• This twenty-minute video demonstrates the amount of work — and astounding length of time! — that goes into the construction of a high-end Go or Shogi board:
Sat Mar 11, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Industry Happenings: Formal Ferret Closes, GAMA Expo Moves, and Embracer Group Moves Up
04 Mar 2023
• Designer Gil Hova has shut down Formal Ferret Games and notes that he "will not be actively designing games for the foreseeable future". Adds Hova:Quote:My last task in the tabletop game industry will be to sign my games with other publishers, including my in-progress campaign for High Rise [which was funded on Kickstarter in October 2020]. I've been actively working on getting my games signed since last year, and I'm optimistic that it'll happen at some point. Of course, I can't give any more detail than that.I've always enjoyed talking with Gil at shows and in our chance airport meetings, and I wish him good tidings in seeing these projects through and moving on to other things.
There is a new game of mine coming out this year where I did most of the design work, but that was mostly done by the end of 2021. I am not directly involved in its publication. It'll be my last game for a while.
Funko Games has signed distribution deals with Big Wheel Toys and Let's Play Games to make its games more readily available in Australia and New Zealand.
• Big Potato Games and Buffalo Games have signed a deal to distribute one another's titles, with Big Potato titles now being handled in the U.S. by Buffalo Games (aside from its Blockbuster titles, which will still be distributed by Spin Master) and with Buffalo Games titles — which include the brands Gamewright and Chuckle & Roar) — now available in the UK through Big Potato.
• Titles from Oink Games are now distributed in the UK through Hachette Boardgames UK.
Starting in 2024, the GAMA Expo trade show will be hosted in Louisville, Kentucky instead of Reno, Nevada, with the show taking place there early in March each year through at least 2026.
• Flat River Group will now distribute titles from Pendragon Game Studio, which was previously distributed in North America by Ares Games.
ABACUSSPIELE, Hanabi publisher Cocktail Games has signed a distribution deal for the title with Asmodee Germany. At the same time, Asmodee Germany will start distributing titles from ABACUSSPIELE.
• In December 2022, Asmodee parent company Embracer Group was approved for trading on Nasdaq Stockholm, which is essentially a recognition of its growth as previously it was trading on Nasdaq First North Growth Market, which Nasdaq describes as "our market for small- and medium-sized growth companies".
The press release is a fascinating window into a world of financing that I barely have a grasp on. Excerpts:Quote:The Company was listed on Nasdaq First North Growth Market in November 2016, under the previous company name THQ Nordic AB (publ). The rationale for the listing in 2016, and the related capital raise was, among other things, to finance growth, facilitate the possibility of using the Company's shares as a means of payment in acquisitions, and strengthen the Company's profile and brand among investors, customers and within the sector in general. Since the listing, the Company has completed over 90 acquisitions financed in whole or in part by payment in class B shares of the Company...Eagle-Gryphon Games has hired Ken Hill and Scott Tepper, both formerly of Rio Grande Games. Hill, who developed Beyond the Sun and Space Station Phoenix, among other titles, IS EGG's product development manager, overseeing development of new projects while also being responsible for localization of EGG titles worldwide. Tepper will serve as EGG's director of public relations.
The listing of the Company's class B shares on Nasdaq Stockholm is an important step in the Company's continued development and has been a long-standing ambition of the Company's board of directors and management. In addition to the fact that the listing on Nasdaq Stockholm provides a quality stamp for the Company, the listing is also expected to make the Company's class B shares even more attractive as a means of payment, which may facilitate future acquisition discussions. Furthermore, the listing on Nasdaq Stockholm is expected to better reflect the maturity of the Company from a capital market perspective and enable more institutional investors to invest in the Company's class B shares. The Company also welcomes the additional requirements for corporate governance, transparency and disclosure which follows with being listed on Nasdaq Stockholm.
In a press release announcing the hires, Rick Soued, president of Eagle-Gryphon Games, said: "EGG is very pleased and fortunate to be able to add Ken and Scott to our team. It's rare to be able to hire one, let alone two, highly-experienced and accomplished executives in the obscure business of board games publishing, and we expect both Ken and Scott to have an immediate and positive impact on both our product development and public relations."
Sat Mar 4, 2023 7:00 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Links: Japanese Coyotes, Monopoly's Somewhat Secret History, and Licensed to Kill (Your Business)
25 Feb 2023
a new game being ranked #1, but most game-playing activity takes place with no media coverage, with no one recording videos or posting pics on social media.
I was reminded of this yet again when I ran across a Feb. 2, 2023, Facebook post from designer Spartaco Albertarelli on the eight-year anniversary of, in his words, "the minimalist Japanese edition of Coyote". He wrote (with translation assist by Google):Quote:When I received this box [in 2015] with the Japanese version of Coyote, I was pretty perplexed, both in terms of the graphics and the idea of turning a game designed to use bandanas to hold cards on your head into a pure card game — but I was still happy to have a title published in that country and my name on a very curious box... I could imagine selling a thousand copies or so, and I would have been happy.I'll note that only 2,274 copies of Coyote are listed as owned on BGG, despite the game having debuted in 2003, with multiple editions released over the past two decades in Europe, China, and Korea.
Just last week the publisher and I exchanged new year wishes, celebrating the 100,000th copy sold...
Gamers are everywhere...trying to figure out what number they have on their head.Components in the New Games Order edition of Coyote
• Mik and Starla Fitch from Our Family Plays Games appeared in a news segment on an Omaha, Nebraska television network to talk about diversifying the board game space and broadening the appeal of games to more players.
• On February 20, 2023, PBS — a U.S. non-profit corporation — aired a documentary about the long-lived game Monopoly titled "Ruthless: Monopoly's Secret History". The video features author Mary Pilon, author of The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game; archived footage of Ralph Anspach, designer of Anti-Monopoly; and Lizzie Magie, designer of The Landlord's Game, which was transformed into Monopoly.
If you've been gaming for some time, then this history might not be a secret to you, but this video nicely details Magie's original inspiration based on the economic principles of Henry George, who argued that land should be owned by all in society. (Note: The video might not be viewable outside the U.S.)
Magic: The Gathering Becomes a Billion-Dollar Brand for Toymaker Hasbro", with sales of the thirty-year-old game far surpassing Transformers, G.I. Joe, and other brands. Specifically, "Magic generated nearly $1.1 billion in revenue in 2022, up 7 percent from the year before. The game accounted for 18 percent of Hasbro's overall revenue last year, higher than its 16 percent share in 2021."
• What's the best strategy for running a game publisher? The answer won't be the same for everyone, as demonstrated by a February 15, 2023 Twitter thread from designer Amabel Holland of Hollandspiele that opens like this:
Pretty much since we started publishing games, publishers from other parts of the world have been reaching out to @hollandspiele and I to ask about publishing [x]-language editions of our games.— Amabel Holland (she/her) (@AmabelHolland) February 15, 2023
This has never happened, and there's two reasons for that. 🧵
To sum up the thread, Hollandspiele sells directly to customers, which allows it to pay a high royalty to its designers. Writes Holland, "For example, if Capstone gave me as much per copy for Irish Gauge as we give a designer or artist, I'd be getting over seven times as much."Quote:We recently had someone ask about licensing one of our games, and they made a counteroffer that was so low that it wouldn't even cover *one* of the three royalties. They really expected us to just sell them rights to the game at a loss.That second reason: Hollandspiele uses "wargames-esque production capabilities: paper map & displays, thin box, etc.", and a licensed version would either be ridiculously expensive (due to the aforementioned royalties) or priced the same but better quality, which would make it more attractive that the Hollandspiele version while earning that publisher less money and making its own version obsolete. Writes Holland, "No one has a 'right' to play a board game, or to buy it at the price they think is equitable, or with the convenience of finding it on a local store shelf. We make the games we want the way we want to, and offer them at the price and in the way that makes sense to us."
More than that, they expected us to approve a competing version of our product, at a loss — with no thought for the sales that we would lose to an alternative version. Which kinda brings us to the second reason.
This advice is something that all self-publishers should adhere to: Produce the game in the way that seems best to you, and if others don't like it, say, well, that's the way it has to be. No one else knows all the costs involved in your production or what your business goals are or how you measure success, so their advice is not necessarily relevant for your purposes.
Sat Feb 25, 2023 7:00 am
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Akropolis Wins 2023 As D'Or
23 Feb 2023
Jules Messaud's Akropolis, which received rave reviews from attendees at Origins Game Fair and UK Games Expo ahead of its release in Q3 2022 from Gigamic, has won the 2023 As d'Or, France's game of the year award. The other nominees in this category were District Noir and That's Not a Hat.
Mathias Wigge's Ark Nova won the award in the "Expert" category over Carnegie and Federation, while Challengers! from Johannes Krenner and Markus Slawitscheck won the "Initié" category (think "advanced") over Alice Is Missing and Turing Machine.
In the children's category, Flashback: Zombie Kidz from Baptiste Derrez and Marc-Antoine Doyon won over Magic Mountain and Stomp the Plank.
Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!
Thu Feb 23, 2023 9:00 pm
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Congratulations to Gavan Brown, Matt Tolman, Martin Wallace, and Roxley for Brass: Birmingham rising to the level of #1 ranked game in the BoardGameGeek database!
That said, I'll note that games tend to flip-flop in positions on the BGG rankings when the difference in the Geek Rating is less than a hundredth of a point, so Gloomhaven and Brass: Birmingham will likely swap spots for a while until...well, who knows?
It's not like any of these rankings are fixed in time or that a game lands in its "proper" spot and never moves again. The rankings don't indicate absolute greatness, but rather greatness for a good number of people who are fans of that particular game or game genre.
Gloomhaven, for example, isn't a game that casual game players will pick up on a whim, but rather an experience that calls out to those who might be interested in what it specifically offers. I don't fall into that bucket, so I'm unlikely to ever play the game, which means I'll never add my (likely low) rating to the game page. You could get a "proper" rating for a game only if you forced everyone in the world to play it and rate it — and coerced ratings probably aren't a reliable measure either, so let's not go there.
Rankings and ratings have meaning only insofar as your tastes match the tastes of others. Don't assume that all highly-ranked games are recommended for you, and don't avoid that low-rated game that seems like a perfect match for your tastes. You do you, boo.
Sat Feb 18, 2023 1:45 pm
- [+] Dice rolls