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Subject: Is expansions a selling point? rss

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matheus cohen
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Hi guys.


As one of my projects gets ready for all that publisher talk i found myself with a question i just couldn't answer.

1. Are expansions a usable selling point? How would you talk about it on a sellsheet?
And openess to theme change? I know its kinda gives of the feeling of 'i'm not 100% secure of my game' but after many and many interactions we found out that more than one theme matched perfectly with the game, with almost no change other than flavor.

I ask this because as we designed our game, that right now has a squad-sent-to-a-foreign-country-for-a-blackops-secret-mission theme, and things like 'how about a bit of fantasy?' 'Hey look, imagine zombies there', 'wouldn't a full survivors of a plain crash theme mission be awsome?' Popped in our god damn heads,
Or even things like 'lets just add more mission and a campaing mode'.

And well....everything seems like a good ideia, we even have most of those in a expansion prototype, but they are just extras. How would you sell them to a publisher? Or just forget it and hope they ask for it?


Also, side question, is the mission only mini-expansions something attractive? Maybe not for a 1rst time in the market designer (at least in us), but in general, is something sellable(is this word right?) Or is one thing that only the bigboys can get away with?
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I think that touting it as "expandable" might be a good idea, however you want to make certain that it's not a main selling point so the core game doesn't seem unfinished or incomplete without expansion content.
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Daniel B-G
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(Bearing in mind that I've never pitched) I would pitch the flexibility of the system and the scope to add some more content in. I've heard it said in a few places that expansions are most important to increase the brand presence of the base game and to drive additional sales. Some of them are even loss leaders with that aim. Expansions tend to have markedly smaller sales and therefore setup costs tend to be a much larger part of the cost (it's also why some expansions will turn up containing mostly air with a fairly high price tag as the publisher was more concerned about turning a profit).

The only real exception to this the LCG release model, in which you can expect new releases to hold up quite well.
 
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tecocohen wrote:

1. Are expansions a usable selling point?


Not on day 1.
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matheus cohen
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The game is 100% complete without it, it doesnt give a 'good but needs the finishin touches' feeling. Expansion would be just extra mechanics/flavor and even possible the 'campaing/mission pack' kind of expansions games like pacg uses

Thnx for your replies, i would also love some guys with experience replys on this
 
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tecocohen wrote:
The game is 100% complete without it, it doesnt give a 'good but needs the finishin touches' feeling.


Indicating that you have expansions already in mind undermines the message that you have a complete game.

Expansions, especially expansions that are ready before determining the popularity and saleability of a game always seems like money grabs to me (as a consumer), and I'm more likely to avoid such titles when determining where to spend my gaming budget.
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Jeff Warrender
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The impression I have is that it doesn't make much of a difference one way or the other. It probably doesn't hurt to mention that you have some expansion ideas should the game sell well, but the base game has to sell well before the publisher will even consider taking on expansions for it, so convincing them about the promise and sales potential of the base game will be much more important.

The one exception to that might be, e.g., a scenario-based game where the base game ships with one scenario and follow-on scenarios can be sold separately. On the other hand, if the publisher doesn't currently publish under this model it may not be very appealing to them, as the way that they print, price, market, compete for shelf space, etc, might be different than what they're used to doing.
 
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Scott Nelson
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Expansions depend entirely on the game type. Like said above, if it is a new scenario then you should mention you have a few scenarios ready that can enhance gameplay. Saying it has expansion capability for an abstract would be fruitless.
And yes, since no one has went to point two, be very clear that you can handle a change in theme. Be very open to change. The numbers and characters and board may be changed completely during the in-house development team. I have an example of this if I can get my Designer Diary published (playing the email game there too feels like the email/publisher game - the wait-and-hope-it-didn't-it-the-spam-box game).

Also, do your math. If you have any kind of algorithm to why things are adjusted as you have them, be sure they are perfect or else that may be the first change. I've seen that twice now -once my design, once anothers' design. Stubborness will also kill a deal. You may have the "perfect game", but in testing without you there, will it still be perfect. What it comes down to is "Be ready for change." Knizia has even had Golf Courses change into a barren Sahara fight for water.


 
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Dennis Gadgaard
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For some people, for sure. I've seen more than a few games declared dead simply because no more or even any expansions are about to be released. Even with games that are just fine without them. I think it's really difficult to give a clear answer to that question without also being very clear about the target gamer.
 
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Raphaël Tremblay Lessard
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I would be interested in Viticulture had it not been stressed that Tuscany is mandatory to have the definitive version of the game. Considering it's a 70$ game with another 50$+ expansion the fact that the game was not complete on it's own is a huge turn off.

I know this thread is more about designing a game but I still wanted to chime in.
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matheus cohen
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byronczimmer wrote:
tecocohen wrote:
The game is 100% complete without it, it doesnt give a 'good but needs the finishin touches' feeling.


Indicating that you have expansions already in mind undermines the message that you have a complete game.

Expansions, especially expansions that are ready before determining the popularity and saleability of a game always seems like money grabs to me (as a consumer), and I'm more likely to avoid such titles when determining where to spend my gaming budget.


Huuumm, sorry if i sounded like i'm looking for profit lol i'm only doing this out of love as i just have a good enough income to live and a good amount of free time and game-design experience. And of course, dolar is 1:4 to my country $, so anything is quite the profit devil

But yeah, it's not about the money, it's just that the card count for example, is already at a high point, and anything else would probably be too much.
Also there is that 'theme twisting expansions' where you just add weirds things to the game you know? It's a modern themed game and suddenly... aliens*insert that guy meme*. Right?

And also, the scneario expansion, which i think will also be something that i will want. But i'll look a little more into what can be done about this as i'm in no rush

jwarrend wrote:
The impression I have is that it doesn't make much of a difference one way or the other. It probably doesn't hurt to mention that you have some expansion ideas should the game sell well, but the base game has to sell well before the publisher will even consider taking on expansions for it, so convincing them about the promise and sales potential of the base game will be much more important.

The one exception to that might be, e.g., a scenario-based game where the base game ships with one scenario and follow-on scenarios can be sold separately. On the other hand, if the publisher doesn't currently publish under this model it may not be very appealing to them, as the way that they print, price, market, compete for shelf space, etc, might be different than what they're used to doing.


Yes! Thnx for your reply.

I'm not trying to sell it on the expansions, just want to give a heads up 'hey i have this and that' and also see if that just may catch a bit more of interest.
Thnx for the tip on the scenarios expansions. I will see which companies do this kind of expansion.

ropearoni4 wrote:
Expansions depend entirely on the game type. Like said above, if it is a new scenario then you should mention you have a few scenarios ready that can enhance gameplay. Saying it has expansion capability for an abstract would be fruitless.
And yes, since no one has went to point two, be very clear that you can handle a change in theme. Be very open to change. The numbers and characters and board may be changed completely during the in-house development team. I have an example of this if I can get my Designer Diary published (playing the email game there too feels like the email/publisher game - the wait-and-hope-it-didn't-it-the-spam-box game).

Also, do your math. If you have any kind of algorithm to why things are adjusted as you have them, be sure they are perfect or else that may be the first change. I've seen that twice now -once my design, once anothers' design. Stubborness will also kill a deal. You may have the "perfect game", but in testing without you there, will it still be perfect. What it comes down to is "Be ready for change." Knizia has even had Golf Courses change into a barren Sahara fight for water.




Point 1. Yeah, i'm like thinking about both kinds of expansion...the kind of campaing one because 1 It would be too much in a single game rising the cost. 2 i would have a 'long' time between this releases so that it's possible to do what the players may want.

Point 2.
I'm actually really up for changes, because i'm that kind of guy that always thinks about a different theme every single day
I don't want to make them feel that i'm not secure about the game just that...a lot seem to work on this and well...they know better than me when it comes to marketable things

DenGad wrote:
For some people, for sure. I've seen more than a few games declared dead simply because no more or even any expansions are about to be released. Even with games that are just fine without them. I think it's really difficult to give a clear answer to that question without also being very clear about the target gamer.


Well, i was actuslly talking about selling point for a publisher, when you go pitch it. But i do share your opnion!!!
 
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matheus cohen
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Chlikaflok wrote:
I would be interested in Viticulture had it not been stressed that Tuscany is mandatory to have the definitive version of the game. Considering it's a 70$ game with another 50$+ expansion the fact that the game was not complete on it's own is a huge turn off.

I know this thread is more about designing a game but I still wanted to chime in.


No worry, still good enough into the subject.

So mandatory expansions is a no-no
 
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monchi
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I would say that to a publisher it would all depend on the type of game. Take a game like Pathfinder, the "expansions" are add on deck that are a total revenue stream for the publisher. I can't think of any publisher that wouldn't be interested in a game like that where you have natural expansions as part of the gaming experience. I do agree that if the expansion is something that seems like it should either be part of the game or makes it seem like it is a result of an unfinished game that it would be a negative....but publishers are in the business of making money, so I can't help but feel that if there are natural ways to expand your game that they couldn't but help your pitch. Take a game like Power Grid where it is easily expanded by maps, it wouldn't have taken a brain surgeon to figure out that you could offer a huge variety of new maps to expand the base game. Them reality is that where your game is capable or not of being easily expanded is kind of a mute point if it doesn't have the potential to become a smash hit like Power Grid, Dominion, Carc...

I think the key thing to remember here is there is a huge difference between what gamers want and what a publisher wants. If a publisher can print off a couple of punch cards, wrap it in shrink and sell it for $30MSRP they would be all over it especially if it uses existing tooling.
 
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Filip W.
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If the publisher is interested in keeping the game running with multiple prints then it's a selling point. If not, it's moot.

From what I've heard, having a game franchise get new attention through an expansion a year (preferably in time for Essen) is a good thing as it increases sales for the base game as well.
 
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Austin Andersen
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Frequency of expansions can greatly affect whether I purchase a game or not. Too many, too quickly and I will pass. One or two spread out over years and I am much more likely to consider purchasing.
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matheus cohen
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Thnx for your points!

Well, as i have figured after this topic, i'm better of not really throwing the expansion in, neither cutting it out.

I would be wise to put it in a subtle (not sure if this is the right word) way so that is not a push-over or makes the game seems like not-finished

About the missions expansion, i'll look which publishers are in for that, so that i can have a better target.


About having a sense of 100% complete game or not: is a common sense in design, not only in game-design, that you won't ever ship out a complete product, you will always see something that could have been done better/extra/another way. Well, it doesn't mean you have to ship out something with missing pieces, but a good design is always evolving.
 
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Jeff K
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Chlikaflok wrote:
I would be interested in Viticulture had it not been stressed that Tuscany is mandatory to have the definitive version of the game.


Then good thing they re-released it as Viticulture Essential Edition that included all of those game elements that people felt were essential.
 
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David Fair
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If I buy a game and I like it, then I am inclined to buy expansions for it. It's part of my acquisition disorder.

If I am considering buying a game, and there are already a bunch of expansions for it, I tend to become less interested in the base game (because I know that I am going down a rabbit hole of expansion acquisition that I would rather avoid).
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Scott Nelson
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I think Uwe Rosenberg would tell you expansions are a must
[Bohnanza and Agricola anyone?] But I don't think he ran with "I have a game about farming beans that can expand (infinitely) 1 a year till the cows come home."
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tecocohen wrote:
Thnx for your points!

Well, as i have figured after this topic, i'm better of not really throwing the expansion in, neither cutting it out.

I would be wise to put it in a subtle (not sure if this is the right word) way so that is not a push-over or makes the game seems like not-finished

About the missions expansion, i'll look which publishers are in for that, so that i can have a better target.


About having a sense of 100% complete game or not: is a common sense in design, not only in game-design, that you won't ever ship out a complete product, you will always see something that could have been done better/extra/another way. Well, it doesn't mean you have to ship out something with missing pieces, but a good design is always evolving.


Don't let "gamers"sway or could your thought process here. A publisher isn't going to jump to the conclusion your game isn't complete if you bring up expansions. It is the way you approach it that matters. Publishers don't think like gamers. Lots of gamers poo poo on expansions for different reasons, but even the ones that whine about them tend to buy the ones that come out or their fav games. The way you have to pitch it to a publisher is that your game lends itself to expansions. This is a selling feature to a publisher. If you have a game that naturally lends itself to expansions it is totally worth mentioning. Take Imperial Settlers for example. I am sure the designer could have created the game with a whole host of other races, but they only launched it with a set number. This allows them to add new races via expansions. There are tons of games out there that prove why expansions are good for publishers. The only time I could see it being a negative is if it is something that really should be part of the base game to make it become a game people want expansions for. Expansions are a mute point only if your game isn't a hit. You can be sure if Dominion didn't take off that you never would have seen the steady stream of expansions.
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matheus cohen
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monchichi wrote:
tecocohen wrote:
Thnx for your points!

Well, as i have figured after this topic, i'm better of not really throwing the expansion in, neither cutting it out.

I would be wise to put it in a subtle (not sure if this is the right word) way so that is not a push-over or makes the game seems like not-finished

About the missions expansion, i'll look which publishers are in for that, so that i can have a better target.


About having a sense of 100% complete game or not: is a common sense in design, not only in game-design, that you won't ever ship out a complete product, you will always see something that could have been done better/extra/another way. Well, it doesn't mean you have to ship out something with missing pieces, but a good design is always evolving.


Don't let "gamers"sway or could your thought process here. A publisher isn't going to jump to the conclusion your game isn't complete if you bring up expansions. It is the way you approach it that matters. Publishers don't think like gamers. Lots of gamers poo poo on expansions for different reasons, but even the ones that whine about them tend to buy the ones that come out or their fav games. The way you have to pitch it to a publisher is that your game lends itself to expansions. This is a selling feature to a publisher. If you have a game that naturally lends itself to expansions it is totally worth mentioning. Take Imperial Settlers for example. I am sure the designer could have created the game with a whole host of other races, but they only launched it with a set number. This allows them to add new races via expansions. There are tons of games out there that prove why expansions are good for publishers. The only time I could see it being a negative is if it is something that really should be part of the base game to make it become a game people want expansions for. Expansions are a mute point only if your game isn't a hit. You can be sure if Dominion didn't take off that you never would have seen the steady stream of expansions.


Thnx! I think i have it already figured out!

My only real doubt is if i should and how should i put it on a sellsheet
 
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Scott Nelson
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tecocohen wrote:
monchichi wrote:
tecocohen wrote:
Thnx for your points!

Well, as i have figured after this topic, i'm better of not really throwing the expansion in, neither cutting it out.

I would be wise to put it in a subtle (not sure if this is the right word) way so that is not a push-over or makes the game seems like not-finished

About the missions expansion, i'll look which publishers are in for that, so that i can have a better target.


About having a sense of 100% complete game or not: is a common sense in design, not only in game-design, that you won't ever ship out a complete product, you will always see something that could have been done better/extra/another way. Well, it doesn't mean you have to ship out something with missing pieces, but a good design is always evolving.


Don't let "gamers"sway or could your thought process here. A publisher isn't going to jump to the conclusion your game isn't complete if you bring up expansions. It is the way you approach it that matters. Publishers don't think like gamers. Lots of gamers poo poo on expansions for different reasons, but even the ones that whine about them tend to buy the ones that come out or their fav games. The way you have to pitch it to a publisher is that your game lends itself to expansions. This is a selling feature to a publisher. If you have a game that naturally lends itself to expansions it is totally worth mentioning. Take Imperial Settlers for example. I am sure the designer could have created the game with a whole host of other races, but they only launched it with a set number. This allows them to add new races via expansions. There are tons of games out there that prove why expansions are good for publishers. The only time I could see it being a negative is if it is something that really should be part of the base game to make it become a game people want expansions for. Expansions are a mute point only if your game isn't a hit. You can be sure if Dominion didn't take off that you never would have seen the steady stream of expansions.


Thnx! I think i have it already figured out!

My only real doubt is if i should and how should i put it on a sellsheet


"Incredible Epic Expansions Available Upon Request! but not mentioned because I don't want you to see the game as not done, cuz it is."

maybe not like that. devil
 
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matheus cohen
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Seems legit
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One thing I ask is if you're doing miniatures, standees, just cards, or a different option? Would make different price points for the below idea:

One thing you could do is just have mini expansions/choose your own theme expansions. For an example of what I have in mind we'll just say it is a Kickstarter. For a $x pledge level you get the base components and then a choose your own theme box to pair with it. For that + however much you get 2 themes....and then you could do a discounted all inclusive to get all the themes. And just sell it as people getting to choose which theme they would like best rather than "expansions" and each theme comes with slightly different rules (aliens could fly, giant worms can burrow, etc.)

Have to push that any theme makes a full game, but lots of replay potential with mixing and matching. Just a thought.
 
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matheus cohen
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coldkorn wrote:
One thing I ask is if you're doing miniatures, standees, just cards, or a different option? Would make different price points for the below idea:

One thing you could do is just have mini expansions/choose your own theme expansions. For an example of what I have in mind we'll just say it is a Kickstarter. For a $x pledge level you get the base components and then a choose your own theme box to pair with it. For that + however much you get 2 themes....and then you could do a discounted all inclusive to get all the themes. And just sell it as people getting to choose which theme they would like best rather than "expansions" and each theme comes with slightly different rules (aliens could fly, giant worms can burrow, etc.)

Have to push that any theme makes a full game, but lots of replay potential with mixing and matching. Just a thought.


All the components so far are,
265 cards
4 6-sided die
4 player board/mat
Maybe one board just so you know where to place your cards.
4 meeples.

And from that, only the cards would have expansions. Dice, meeples and boards would really not matter that much.

All i need to create a campaing expansion is 5 cards. And to create a refreshing feeling rather than just the 'next objective', 20 cards would do.

To create a theme/extra expansion, it all dpeneds what i want to add. So if i follow your idea of theme, and just want to add i don know...aliens. i would just make a couple of enemie cards, create a cool mechanic, some usable alien-stolen weapona and that's it. Pushing it to some extent it would take 100 cards. Just a extra expansion, not a 'new focus' one, 50 would do.

But to create a full game expansion would be a big box again. 200 or so cards :/

Still! Really good suggestion of the mix and match, will see what i can throw in!
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