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Congress of Gamers conventions
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Wouldn't it be great if game publishers showered your small con with free copies of hot new games, visits by celebrity game designers, free trips to GenCon, etc? Yeah, but that won't happen. Publishers are businesses, and struggle every day to make even a small profit for their investors. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how your small con can help them sell more games.
For publishers, it's mostly about exposure. They need gamers to see their games and play their games, which makes those gamers (and the many other gamers con attendees influence) MUCH more likely to BUY their games. Will your con have 200 gamers? How many of those will see, play, or buy the publisher's game as a result of attending? Asking for a copy for the con's library doesn't sound like a great investment unless that copy will be promoted and extensively played at the con. Before contacting a vendor, be sure you have a plan for their donation that has a very good prospect of getting them high exposure.
Will it be used in demo sessions, showcased in a play-to-win program, or promoted as a prize? Will it be highlighted on the con's web site during con marketing? Will results of play at the con be shared with a broader gaming community? How much "buzz" will the publisher get from their contribution?
I'm working on a list (below) that identifies contact methods and requirements for potential support from major game publishers. I've added short lists of games that I sometimes see in organized play at conventions. This is obviously just the early start of a work in progress. I'll migrate this to a Geeklist when the bulk of my research is completed, so hyperlinks are easier to create. The sad truth is that most of these publishers don't even respond to small con director inquiries. I'll do three attempts with each, one month apart, so you can see which publishers to not bother reaching out to.
Alea (Castles of Burgundy, Princes of Florence, San Juan, Macao) English speaking areas should check their licensees(?) including Rio Grande. I didn't attempt contact.
Arcane Wonders (Mage Wars Arena, Sheriff of Nottingham) Ambassadors program allows YOU to be an ambassador, but doesn't appear to have a way to send an ambassador to a small con. http://www.arcanewonders.com/contact-us#formBuilderCSSIDCont... They have previously been a good partner to another small con. I got a quick response with a one-time use 50% discount coupon code offer for their web store.
Ares (War of the Ring) http://www.aresgames.eu/contact-us I filled out their form, and got an email the next day from Isabella Long, Isabella.Long @ aresgames.eu, asking what type of shows my cons are, where they are, and what the attendance and attendees are like. After giving that info, she quickly replied that she'd try to donate some games to the con library a couple months before the con. On email follow-up a month before my next con, she sent copies of Odyssey and Aztlan for my cons' library.
Asmodee (Mage Knight, Blood Rage, Eclipse, T.I.M.E. Stories, 7 Wonders, Troyes, Kemet, Sherlock holmes Consulting Detective, Arcadia Quest, Nations, Splendor, Jaipur, Lewis & Clark, Mysterium, Seasons, Dixit, Merchants & Marauders, Manhattan Project, Takenoko, A Few Acres of Snow, Hanabi, Flash Point, Pandemic, Formula D, Diplomacy, Liars Dice, Can't Stop) They have an events space where you can create an entry for your con. https://community.asmodee.us/forum/133-events/ General contact form: https://www.asmodee.us/en/contact/form/ No response to first form completion.
Bezier (Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Suburbia, Werewolf) Sent generic email info request. Got an email back from the Double Exposure team (which represents Bezier and 60 other publishers) asking for event details. http://dexposure.com/envoy
Catan Studio (Catan) Does not have a program to send games to conventions, but could help you run a Catan National Qualifiers Event, which cons of any size may run. Contact Donna@catanstudio.com. Basic requirement is payment of $250 plus transportion costs to send your tournament winner to nationals.
Columbia (Hammer of the Scotts, Julius Ceasar, Crusader Rex, Slapshot) eMail James Eisert castlearchon @ gmail.com. He'll want to know: 1) Where and when is the convention? 2) If there a fan base of any Columbia games (wargames, HarnWorld RPG, or family) already in the area 3) What is the expected crowd? 4) If someone is running a Columbia game in a specific slot or tourney 5) The web site for the con
I answered the questions, but got no further response.
Days of Wonder (Five Tribes, Ticket to Ride, Memoir '44, Small World, BattleLore, Quadropolis, Pirates Cove, Mystery of the Abbey) After you create an account, you can place events in their online calendar, https://www.daysofwonder.com/en/event/new/ but I could find no contact form or email address. I did not attempt contact by snail mail.
Eagle-Gryphon (Through the Ages, Brass, Railways of the World, Gallerist, Age of Steam, Rococo, For Sale, Struggle of Empires, Empires: Age of Discovery, Roll Through the Ages, Can't Stop, Vinhos) Contact by customer-service @ eagle-gryphon.com Awaiting reply to my email.
Fantasy Flight (Star Wars: Rebellion, Imperial Assault, and X-Wing Minis, Android: Netrunner, Mansions of Madness, Eldritch Horror, Twilight Imperium, Battlestar Galactica, Tigris & Euphrates, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Game of Thrones, Arkham Horror, Cosmic Encounter, Ingenious, Merchant of Venus) I originally completed their default form and, after a few weeks, got a reply to use this form: http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/ffg-event-support-appli... I completed the form on 10/19/2018. They have donated to a small con before.
Games Workshop (Blood Bowl, Space Hulk, Warhammer) email@example.com Sent an email asking if they have someone who could demo paint and play.
GMT (Twilight Struggle, Dominant Species, Commands & Colors: Ancients, Paths of Glory, Combat Commander: Europe, Here I Stand, 1960: The Making of the President, Battle Line, Virgin Queen, Thunder Alley) I sent an email to gmtoffice @ gmtgames.com. Got a reply after a couple of weeks asking what games were of interest. Explained myself and am awaiting their reply.
Hans Im Gluck This company develops many popular games, but others publish them.
IELLO (Through the Ages, Codenames, Tzolk'in, Alchemists, Star Realms, Galaxy Trucker, Dungeon Petz, Dungeon Lords, Space Alert, The Resistence, King of Tokyo, Egizia, Vinhos, Innovation, Automobile, Last Will, King of New York, Smash Up) Web site has links for organized play, but they don't work. EMail sent to info @ iellogames.com. They responded with an offer to meet at the New York Toy Fair and links to Donation and Ding and Dent games. The offered games didn't include their top ranked games, but did include Innovation and Mexica. You will have to pay shipping for the free games, so don't ask for anything you don't actually want.
Kosmos English versions of their games are published by Rio Grande, Mayfair, and Fantasy Flight.
Lookout English versions of their games are published by others, I assume.
MayFair (Caverna, Agricola, Le Havre, Patchwork, Tigris & Euphrates, Steam, 1830, Grand Austria Hotel, London, Automobile) Their website offers event @ mayfairgames.com for "Events". I sent an email. Awaiting a response.
North Star (Evolution, Wits & Wagers) North Star has been a GREAT partner to conventions in the metro DC area, which is their company city. They have provided library copies, performed demos, led games, and rented space. Contact them at https://www.northstargames.com/pages/contact-us
Plaid Hat (Dead of Winter, Summoner Wars, Mice and Mystics) Donated to a small con before. You can register your event on their web site: http://www.plaidhatgames.com/events/create. To request volunteers, etc. use firstname.lastname@example.org. I emailed and am awaiting a response.
Portal Others distribute their games.
Queen (Alhambra, Shogun, Lancaster, Fresco, Wallenstein, Kingdom Builder) http://www.queen-games.com/en/the-queen-games-publishing-tea... Completed form directing questions to their VP, Beate Haasbach-Gupta. Awaiting reply.
Rio Grande (Puerto Rico, and MANY others). If a convention has a permanent game library for the attendees, they may contribute games to it. If you do have a permanent game library at your convention, send an email to Scott Tepper, Customer Service/Operations, rggscott @ aol.com about a month beforehand, and he may send you some games for the library. Rio Grande doesn't like their donated games used in giveaways or as prizes. Donated to a small con before.
Steve Jackson (Love Letter, Munchkin) Donated to a small con before.
Stonemaier (Scythe, Viticulture) I asked them for a promo prize for the Scythe tournament I was GM'ing at PrezCon and they sent me a new pack of Scythe metal coins. Sweet prize! I haven't asked about other con support, but they do have an ambassador program that was to send PrezCon FOUR experts to help with the Scythe tourney, demos, learning games, etc. I never found them. They just donated coins and a map extension for Scythe prizes at my next two cons.
Stronghold (Terraforming Mars, Gret Western Trail, La Granja, Village, Kanban) Contact form is on http://strongholdgames.com/contact-us/ and email at info AT strongholdgames DOT com. They offer a 75% discount on demo copies of games for retail stores. No response yet to my form entry.
Tasty Minstrel (Orleans, Village, Eminent Domain) Contact them at email@example.com Awaiting reply to my email. A separate contact indicated Double Exposure supports Tasty Minstrel Games.
Treefrog (A Few Acres of Snow, London, Automobile) Looks like they are just designing now, not publishing. Not sure about their existing titles. Haven't tried contacting them.
Victory Point I've never seen any of their games in organized play, but they do donate games. See http://www.victorypointgames.com/contact-us/
Wizkids (Mage Knight Board Game) The only contact method I know of is firstname.lastname@example.org. They responded quickly to tell me they only support WizKids Official Events, including WizKids Opens or conventions they attend. They will share your con info on their social media pages.
Wizards of the Coast (Lords of Waterdeep, Magic: The Gathering, RoborRally, Vegas Showdown, Betrayal at House on the Hill) You have to create an account, then complete a form to contact them. It took multiple tries, but I did finally get a form response to my request:
"Unfortunately Wizards of the Coast does not have the ability to provide unattended convention support, however we do have a process for requesting special guests for your event! We'd ask that you reply with the information requested in our page on Convention Support, linked below:
I didn't act on this, since my cons don't feature special guests.
Ystari (Caylus, Shakespeare, Yspahan, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective) As of 1/16/2017, Ystari does not provide any support to small cons.
Z-Man (Terra Mystica, Agricola, Robinson Crusoe, Le Havre, Voyages of Marco Polo, Fields of Arle, Russian Railroads, A Feast for Odin, Pandemic, Stone Age, Troyes, Ora et Labora, Goa, Hansa Teutonica, Carcassonne, Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small, 1960: The Making of the President, Dungeon Lords, Clash of Cultures, Endeavor, Merchants and Marauders, Vinhos, Bruxelles, Saint Petersburg) For event support, contact email@example.com. Unfortunately I got no response for many months. I sent another email 9-4-2017. Awaiting a reply.
Additional game publishers who have been good partners to other small cons in the past: AEG, Warlord Games, GameSalute, Guillotine Games/CMoN, I Will Never Grow Up Gaming (Prizes), Field Marshal Games (Prizes)
Double Exposure represents 60 publishers, including Stronghold, Bezier, Tasty Minstrel, HABA, and Victory Point. Contact Avonelle Wing, avonelle @ dexposure.com or visit http://www.dexposure.com/home.html
The following is boiler plate text I'm using when contacting publishers:
What support is available to directors of board game conventions?
I run small board game conventions, with 250-350 gamers, in the DC Metro area, and would like to explore how to get your support for featured XXXXXXXX games. This could include any of: ambassadors to demo games, GM tourneys, etc., game promo items for prizes, play-to-win copies, library copies of games, ad space in con program/website, etc. Could your marketing team let me know what might be available and under what circumstances?
Director, Congress of Gamers, http://congressofgamers.org
6829 Needwood Road
Derwood MD 20855
http://tinyurl.com/condirector (manual for small con directors)