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Subject: Validity of selling indie game via TheGameCrafter.com? rss

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Todd Jordan
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Hi all,

This is my first post, so apologies if this is in the wrong section of the forum!

I've completed my first ever game design, using TheGameCrafter.com, and am about to order my first few copies.

I've contacted a few game reviewers, and they have expressed a bit of interest in the game, so I'll be ordering extra copies to send to them.

Now, my question for you guys is; in the unlikely event that my first-time design gets positive reviews online, and people would like to buy it for themselves, is TheGameCrafter an acceptable portal for selling?

As a game fan, would you think less of a game if the link directed you there for purchase?

My alternative would be to order a bunch of copies myself, and then set up some sort of Wordpress webstore, or similar, but then what if nobody wants to buy it and I get stuck with loads of copies in my house?

Any thoughts or advice for a n00b would be much appreciated!
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Gary Boyd
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Hi Todd,

I think of the Game Crafter as a viable outlet for amateur and fledgling designers to share their games with others. It is a perfectly acceptable place to distribute if you don't feel the game is ready or you are unable to follow traditional publishing channels.

That being said, reviews would have to be very positive indeed for me to consider purchasing games through Game Crafter or I would have to be familiar with the designers work. With the absolute glut of games on the market I'm weary of anything that may be underdeveloped. Game Crafter is used by many as a vanity press and traditional publishing tends to weed out such games.

My current tendency is to trust games to have been vetted only if they've gone through proper publishing channels, I know the designer, or there has been a great deal of buzz around the print and play.
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If your game is getting a lot of buzz and Game Crafter is where you buy it then you're fine. However, if publishing to Game Crafter is your first step, you're adding your game to a big catalogue of designs with a relatively narrow (and transient) front page view. While you won't have to risk the resources for a full print run, it'll still be on you to get the game noticed, build a fan base, and make it visible on that site.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Selling via game crafter can be tricky as you have to calculate the sale price after the assembly price. But if you want to just make advanced prototypes and samples. It works.
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The other thing about thegamecrafeter (and I'll say up front that their services rock and quality pretty good) is that print-on-demand copy of your game will costs noticeably more than regular FLGS pricing, simply due quantities involved. To assemble one of my recent designs via TGC was going to run about $30 ... for a game that if I had it traditionally published would hit store shelves for about $15.

That's why I focus on card games these days and just order large quantities of excellent card printings from another place (Drive Thru Cards), add cubes in at my house, and make the printed stuff like rules/boards/mats etc available for download as PDF files. Then I can see for about retail.

But TGC certainly does good work, and awesome for just a few prototype/copies of stuff to test.
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Matthew Proper-Lee
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You'll get a few varying answers here, but from my point of view, TGC isn't a viable portal for me to purchase anything (no matter how good the reviews I might read are).

Granted, their quality has gotten quite good, but there are some things that stand in my way:

For one, if that is the only way to get the game, it makes it more difficult to sell to others I play with and demo games to. The website isn't well known, and of those who know it, the audience is often limited to people who trust little known designers or people who are making prototypes. The general audience is often leery of buying something when there is only one outlet available that isn't a "publisher's" website (and even then, it's hard to steer people away from the big box stores and Amazon).

From a demo/sales point of view, it's also hard because if I'm playing a game at a con or store and like the game a lot, I will try to get a copy right there, but TGC copies won't be available to purchase and will lose the impulse sale.

The big box stores and Amazon (along with the hobby oriented stores like CLS or Cool Stuff) have a huge advantage where they can offer cheap or free shipping to combine with other games (or other products in general) that might be purchased at the same time. TGC is limited to games only available there.

As Gary pointed out above, TGC does not really vet the quality/playtested readiness of any game submitted there, so it is difficult to assess the quality of the games. Even then, buzz for any TGC game is quite limited (and frankly, I can't think of any TGC published game I've heard anything about in the years I've been playing - either positive or negative. Just a void of info).

For stores, the worse problem is that they need a price bump to cover their additional costs (like salaries, rent, electric, etc), and TGC pricing is already close to a retail price for games with similar components, so they would have to charge more than the "list" price shown on TGC itself. Bulk purchasing to get a discount is a tough sell since they won't know if the game will sell at all, much less the 5-10 copies they would have to buy to get any discount.
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Todd Jordan
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Thanks for all the feedback guys, it's really appreciated!

So what I'm hearing is, while there isn't necessarily anything wrong with TGC for making products, it is a bit of a hype-blackhole in terms of selling the game to other people. I suspected this might be the case!

Now, when I started the project, originally I just wanted to make literally one copy of the game, for my game group.

Since then, the final result has actually come out quite a lot nicer-looking than I ever expected. I don't mean that as some kind of humble-brag, it's all down to the good luck of meeting a brilliant illustrator who was passionate about the idea and willing to work for free!

After a year and a half of play-testing, we've arrived a game that (I hope) looks beautiful and is fun to play... but it still is just a punt in the dark from a first time designer.

So now I'm at a bit of a crossroads. I'm under no delusions about making money from game design, and would be perfectly happy to just have my copy and have that be that.

But there's still that nagging feeling.... What if?

Looking beyond TGC, is there anything that you would recommend I do?
I know next to nothing about traditional game publication.

Should I just be happy that I had a fun time working on the project, and have that be that? Or is there someone or some "group" that I should contact to pitch the game?

Should I post it to the WIP forum of BGG? Should I post a Print & Play version? If so, where?

Thank you all so much for the kind handholding through this process!
 
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Quantum Jack
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You could always post the files as pnp, note that the game is avaliable for "free" on tgc, by accepting no personal profit. This way, if your game is good, it may generate some buzz, and your next design might have some more weight behind it.

May not be an option for you, but its effectively playing the long game.
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Gary Boyd
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Todd,

If you've been playtesting this game for a year and a half and you've found that it is solid, I would be looking at attending conventions to shop to publishers. Many publishers out there are willing to meet at conventions and will give you a good sense of where the game needs work if it needs more work or whether it is market ready.

There are publisher speed dating events as well at most major conventions and unpub events. All of these seem to be viable avenues towards publishing.
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James Arias
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For me, I found 2 of my all time favorite games on TGC. Granted that was when I using it for my own projects, and actively shopping the site because I hadn't yet discovered BGG.

Also skeptical for it as a storefront. Several PoD sites do the same thing but like others have said TGC doesn't seem to have same PR.

Financially don't know if anyone's compared margins for the producer. For me as a customer that $10 shipping regardless of order contents was something that turned me off.
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Charles Ward
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First I want to say thank to everyone who posted. There is a lot of good suggestions here. This topic really interest me so I will try to share what I think and try to avoid repeating what has already been said.

TGC provides a great service for 1) producing prototypes, 2) providing an estimate of what a game might cost, and 3) a point of sale.

In terms of producing a prototype... this will be essential if you want to present you game to game publishers. There are forums for how to approach game publishers and they say that presentation is important. Also, if you are looking for hype/feedback in the form of independent reviews, prototypes will come in handy.

In terms of the price... TGC is not cheap, and the bulk discount only applies after 100 copies. If you game is not too big and expensive 100 is a reasonable number to have for game publishers, reviewers, conventions, your online store, gifts. However, if you game is only a deck of cards, it will be cheaper to order elsewhere.

In terms of a point of sale... I see no problem in having a store on TGC. You can always bring some of those 100 copies to conventions and if you sell out you can send people to your site and give them a discount coupon or something. The store keeps track of games sold. If you game is successful it is awarded a badge. So I would have the game on sale there as soon as the game is ready - WHY NOT. TGC is still in business, it must be for a reason. Also, I see having the game on TGC as an alternative to PnP. I think you can also provide you game as a pdf download (for free or otherwise) via TGC but I could be wrong about this.

In the end, a lot of this will depend on your commitment to publishing your game, the size and manufacturing cost of the product, your finances, and the game itself.

AS THE NEXT STEP - create an entry for the game, not a WIP, on BGG. Post some pictures, create a video run through, share the rules... in other words - START PROMOTING IT! And let the market decide.

Finally, I want to congratulate you on creating your first game. I bet opening up your own game for the first time was quite a buzz. Hope this helped.
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John "Omega" Williams
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From a discussion elsewhere.

It costs 1:10$ / 4 pages for an 8x10 booklet. The box would cost 10$

So to print the B part of the Moldvay BX would cost 18.70$ each. Plus 10$ for the box. Total 28.70$ You can get it down to 16:42$ with an order of 100 sets. Plus another 6.75$ for the dice. So 35.45$ per box or down to 22.72$

That is the cost to produce the game. If you want to sell it retail then probably tripple that if you want to make any money. If you are self selling it then you can get away with just double, or less if you want to be more appealing.

Oh and this does not include the pack in module... That is another 9.60$ or 6.60$, to produce. Not sell.

I researched this stuff when looking to see if I could reprint Red Shetland via TGC. Just to print the old 100 page book would cost 19$ each via TGC for 100.
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Todd Jordan
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Wow guys, BGG really is the *best* online community...
So much help for a first-time poster! You're the best.

So, yes, I think what I will do then if order just a handful of copies from TGC, and leave the store there public. I'll also log the game on BGG with pics and videos and all that fun stuff.

I'll ship copies to the few reviewers that have asked for them, and include a link to both the TGC store, and the BGG listing.

I'm super proud of the game, but can only dedicate so much time to promoting it. I'll do what I can online, and will have to see what happens!

Once I've got the game online, I'll post the link to this thread, in case any of you are curious.

Again, thanks a bunch!

 
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Charles Ward
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Quote:
Once I've got the game online, I'll post the link to this thread, in case any of you are curious.


We sure are
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John "Omega" Williams
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Unless something has changed with TGC. Do keep in mind that if you set the games price at the assembly cost. Then for each sale you will not get anything. It will all go to the production and shipping.

So if your game costs 20$ on TGC to make and you set the price to 20$ then your net profit is 0$ You'll have to weigh the extra cost vs what someone aware of THCs system will be willing to pay.
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Robby Timmermans
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Don't forget the publisher route mentioned above.
Research which publishers publish the type of games yours fits in (family, wargame, thematic, euro, ...) and try to get an appointment with them during a convention or send them an email pitching your game to them. Some good posts that can help you:
http://www.jamesmathe.com/courting-a-game-publisher-dos-and-...
http://boardsandbarley.com/2014/08/21/how-to-speed-pitch-you...
https://scottalmes.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/before-you-pitch...
http://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/articles/how-to-become-a...

Best of luck!
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Todd Jordan
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One concern for me is that I'm based in the UK, which makes it quite a bit harder to meet publishers and attend conventions!
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Gary Boyd
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CiaoGiallo wrote:
One concern for me is that I'm based in the UK, which makes it quite a bit harder to meet publishers and attend conventions!


I know the UK has at least one big convention a year, the UK Games Expo. Unfortunately, I believe it just happened but there are a great many publishers who attend.

I'm pretty fortunate in that GenCon is only a few hours away from my front door.
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Let me add just a short note: between TGC and the publisher route lies the third way of Kickstarter.

It's a lot of work more, but you might want to consider even this possibility.
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Charles Ward
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mfenici wrote:
Let me add just a short note: between TGC and the publisher route lies the third way of Kickstarter.

It's a lot of work more, but you might want to consider even this possibility.


Dam, I missed that one. Of course! Kickstarter! And you can combine it with TGC with production AND fulfilment. Note: I'm not recommending this service as I have no experience with TGC but I know they offer thins kind of support.
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ex1st wrote:
mfenici wrote:
... Kickstarter. It's a lot of work more, but you might want to consider even this possibility.

Dam, I missed that one.

This is interesting. Having recently become addicted to gaming, I follow both BGG and KS. However, some/many (?) BGGers are seemengly suspiciuous of KS.

I can understand the reasons by reading this post, but I am not sure. At first sight, KS does not filter good from bad projects. But in reading the pag of a campaign, you often understand whether the game is bad...
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Gary Boyd
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mfenici wrote:
ex1st wrote:
mfenici wrote:
... Kickstarter. It's a lot of work more, but you might want to consider even this possibility.

Dam, I missed that one.

This is interesting. Having recently become addicted to gaming, I follow both BGG and KS. However, some/many (?) BGGers are seemengly suspiciuous of KS.

I can understand the reasons by reading this post, but I am not sure. At first sight, KS does not filter good from bad projects. But in reading the pag of a campaign, you often understand whether the game is bad...


I think, having received enough lack-luster Kickstarter games over the past couple of years I usually wait for an actual release. There are a few caveats to that. I'm going to GenCon and I'm likely to play some games that will be up on Kickstarter afterwards. I will back a game if I've had the opportunity to play it and discovered that I enjoy it. I may also back a project based on the company or designer.

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debiant wrote:

I think, having received enough lack-luster Kickstarter games over the past couple of years I usually wait for an actual release. There are a few caveats to that. I'm going to GenCon and I'm likely to play some games that will be up on Kickstarter afterwards. I will back a game if I've had the opportunity to play it and discovered that I enjoy it. I may also back a project based on the company or designer.


Which is why it is essential to show what your game is EVEN through reviewers, instructional videos and photos, as well as demos at conventions, before the kickstarter even launches. A good track record of delivering good products on time also helps (you on your second time on kickstarter).

PS Is this thread going off topic? whistle Who cares?
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Todd Jordan
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Definitely not off-topic, in my opinion!

All fascinating stuff to hear.

My background is in the music industry, where the path to getting your product to your audience is very clearly established. Most people understand the basic principle of "record labels".

As someone that is no more than a hobbyist-designer, my only real contact with the games industry is through forums like this. Outside of my immediate gaming group, I have no connections, or insider knowledge.

So every little bit of light that can be shed is a huge bonus! It just seems like an uneasy straddling of new/old distribution options. DIY routes are available, but the consumer safeguards aren't there yet.

The last thing I want to do is waste anybody else's time or money with a game that isn't as good as it should be!

Apologies for the navel-gazing post....
 
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Robby Timmermans
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Also an excellent resources is: http://www.bgdf.com/ (board game designer forum).
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