Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
27 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: How to get a game published rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Matt Malinsky
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
Hello everybody, I have designed a game and have been emailing some game companies to see if anyone is interested in publishing it. I sent a sell sheet, rule book, and instructional video with zero response. Not even to say “I received your info” or “thanks but no Thanks.” Anyone have an idea what game companies might be on the lookout for a game from an outside source? OR anyone have an idea what else I could do differently?
Play time: 60-90 min
Players: 1-4
Mechanics: set collecting, real time strategy, dice rolling, hidden component discovery,
Theme: space exploration
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brad Fuller
United States
Virginia Beach
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cold emails are always difficult. You should attend a convention like Origins and schedule appointments to meet with some companies.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Malinsky
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
Oh ok yeah that makes sense. How would you go about making those appointments? Email companies? Ask at the convention?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Evans
New Zealand
Wellington
flag msg tools
www.evanswhanau.co.nz
badge
...um, not really.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Like any salesman - keep on at it until you make a (*the*) sale.

Or try kickstarter
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bojan Prakljacic
msg tools
Avatar
I'm still trying with short video presentations of my games, captured through Tabletop Simulator, that I can post on YouTube and share a link with possible publishers.
Somehow, I think that watching a 5-10 min of a video about my game has more chance to interest a publisher than few written words in e-mail.

I'll tell you if I ever succeed.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shane Phillips
United States
Williamsburg
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Hi, I'm no publisher or designer but a general enthusiast (duh, right) and I stumbled upon this article about getting publishers to bite. Might be helpful to you:

https://medium.com/board-games-that-tell-stories/tell-me-abo...

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Warrender
United States
Averill Park
New York
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cardboard Edison has compiled a directory of publishers, some (but not all) of whom are accepting submissions. It has a modest cost (which is pretty reasonable given how much time and effort went into compiling and maintaining it).

Fair warning, I've reached out to several publishers on the list and gotten no response, similar to your experience. I would guess that sending an initial email with any attachments could result in your message being caught in the spam filter, but I've found that even emails without any attachments don't get responses from some publishers. It's frustrating for sure, but there definitely are publishers out there who will respond to emails, so perhaps just keep at it until you get a response. Good luck.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Campbell
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
Growing old is mandatory but growing UP is optional!
badge
Tabletop Game News, Reviews, Sales, Design and Publishing. Visit us at www.iwillnevergrowup.com!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Attend Publisher-Designer Speed Dating events to get in quick pitches to (sometimes) dozens of publishers face to face.

Have a booth/table at major conventions (sometimes publishers, shops and other interested parties will be lurking and if they are interested will introduce themselves)

Cold calling rarely works well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Russell
United States
Dearborn
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's also going to depend on which publishers you're approaching. I've found that most publishers will take the time to get back to you with a "this isn't for us, thanks anyway" or "can you demo the game to me at [convention x]" within a week or so of the initial email. At least that was the case the last time I tried to pitch a eurogame publisher on one of my games about three or four years back.

There are those that will ignore you outright, but they're really few and far between. (Oddly, even though I've had much better luck selling wargames than I ever did with euro-style games, I found that while the euro-game publishers almost always got back to me, the wargame publishers were more likely to ignore the email.)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Remus Rhymus
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Steal yo
badge
ur face
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
esphill98 wrote:
Hi, I'm no publisher or designer but a general enthusiast (duh, right) and I stumbled upon this article about getting publishers to bite. Might be helpful to you:

https://medium.com/board-games-that-tell-stories/tell-me-abo...



Good lil' article there. Essentially pitch your game using theme for the descriptors instead of rattling off a list of mechanics the game uses.

Also, the game the author was describing as an example sounded exactly like The Godfather: Corleone's Empire. I'm guessing he had that in mind for his example, odd coincidence, otherwise.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Craig Stockwell
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mmalinsk8 wrote:
I sent a sell sheet, rule book, and instructional video with zero response. Not even to say “I received your info” or “thanks but no Thanks.”

Hi Matt,

As it happens, I teach a class on pitching tabletop games to publishers -- unfortunately, I wasn't able to arrange for recording the past couple times (PAX Dev and ETX) -- but it's on my "to do" list (alternately, I may just do a voice-over with the PowerPoint, and toss it up on YouTube).

Let me share a few key pointers:

(1) Research which publishers are accepting submissions *and* want games of the sort you're doing. As mentioned above, Cardboard Edison is a great resource -- both in general, and specifically their publisher database. The site itself is free to use, but the pub db is paywalled ($15 one-time fee, or $1/month on Patreon). It's well worth the investment.

If you don't want to use CE's work, then make a list of every publisher you can think of who makes games "like" yours -- that could mean mechanically similar, thematically similar, and even heaviness/complexity-wise. Then check each website, and see if they're accepting, and what materials they want with a submission.

(2) Over the past few years, I've had the chance to speak frankly with many publishers. Roughly speaking, for every 200 pitches they see, they'll evaluate 10 prototypes, sign two, and publish one. Let that sink in -- about 1 in 200 pitches seen leads to a published game. And that's from the pitches they agree to see!

(3) Follow directions from publishers, don't send something they didn't ask for. In many cases, they'll want just an introductory e-mail, without attached files. Some publishers require you to execute an NDA before they'll look at anything of yours (so they're protected). When I'm making first contact, I let them know I have a sell sheet, rule book, and PnP files available.

Having an instructional video ready is also super-smart! Probably the best is around five minutes, with about 30 seconds about yourself, 30 seconds about the game, and four minutes of how the game plays.

(4) For most companies, there's only one -- occasionally two -- people who receive pitches ... and it's not their only job. Accordingly, they don't have time to look at everything prototype. This is where following that company's instructions, and having a game "in their wheelhouse" is more likely to get you the attention you want.

(5) Even the most 'professional' game companies will sometimes fail to respond -- and even when it's a well-established designer. Don't let that get you down. After initial contact, I normally circle-back after 2-3 months, and then again at the 6 month mark. If they don't respond after that, I stop sending e-mail (until the next prototype).

(6) As mentioned in an earlier reply, going to conventions is a great way to get pitch meetings. There's a tradeoff between size of show, and availability of decision-makers -- for example, I get as much (or more) meetings at a key small show (GAMA Trade Show) as I do at Gen Con. The 'best' show is probably the one with the most publishers you've researched, and that's affordable to you. But before you make arrangements to go, contact the publisher to see if they'll be taking pitch meetings at that show.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ben Pinchback
United States
Leonard
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I wrote a blog a couple weeks back about this very subject from my experiences so far.
The short version is you have to get out to conventions and meet publishers in person for maximum success.

https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/69088/fleeples-guide-help...

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Isaac Shalev
United States
Stamford
Connecticut
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The key is to build relationships. Going to cons, volunteering to playtest, being active in media, will all help you meet and connect with publishers.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marcus Finlay
Australia
flag msg tools
new user
designer
publisher
Having contacted over 70 publishers with the same aim I can empathise. Living in Australia attending cons in Europe and the US is not viable for me. However we definitely got furthest with publishers we actually met face to face. So work out what cons are near you and find out who will be attending and email them to arrange a meeting beforehand.
When cold calling a publisher try to do a bit of research into personnel and target the people who oversee new submissions. This way you are getting direct to the best person.
Games companies are busy places and you shouldn't expect an immediate response. If you haven't heard anything at all after a month, try again or move on.
Being active on sites like this one or twitter will also help you connect with a mostly very welcoming community.
All the best with it and keep your eye on kickstarter. It may not be your plan a but it will help you get your game out there. it was our plan b which we are now diving headfirst into.
Regards
-Marcus
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Koen Hendrix
United Kingdom
Liverpool
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mb
One more reason that hasn't been mentioned yet: the time of year. Right now, nearly all publishers are preparing for Essen. They also usually have in-person pitching appointments at that convention.

It makes some sense that publishers wouldn't spend time on your pitch when they're (A) super busy and (B) have a lot of in-person pitches coming up.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Harper
United Kingdom
Wantage
Oxfordshire
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's also worth noting that some publishers do offer guidance in how to pitch to them. Seek this information out, read it, and pay close attention to what it tells you. AEG in particular have started publishing pitching guides in the lead-up to major conventions, explaining how to arrange a meeting with them, what questions will be asked, what sort of games they are (and are not) interested in, and loads more good information. I'm sure this will become more common practice.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bojan Prakljacic
msg tools
Avatar
I'm so desperate that I would gladly gave any of my games to any publisher without any returning fees or payments, just to, once in my life, see my name on the box.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tom Russell
United States
Dearborn
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
8Oj4N wrote:
I'm so desperate that I would gladly gave any of my games to any publisher without any returning fees or payments, just to, once in my life, see my name on the box.


Never do this. Any publisher that's willing to take you up on that offer is not a publisher you'd want to get involved with. Any publisher who would be incentivized by such a thing isn't a good or a smart one.

Giving your design away for free, or for a mess of pottage, is something you will absolutely regret later.

This next bit touches on desperation, and it may or may not apply, depending on how desperate is "so desperate". But here goes, and just ignore if it doesn't apply.

I know what being desperate is like, because I was in that place once (more than once). And the best advice I can give a desperate designer is, don't be desperate. Which also sounds like the worst advice, because it's not like people choose to be desperate.

There's something I read once about people looking for jobs, and that's the concept of "candidate time". It's that when people are job-searching, time seems to move incredibly slowly, and their desperation gets the better of them and then they start making follow-up calls every two days, or are over-earnest in their communications, which turn a potential employer off; desperation can drive people away. I did this myself, especially during my time in the film world. What compounds it of course is that my desperation caused me not to get anywhere, which in turn deepened that desperation, which in turn made it even harder.

I obviously don't know if that's the case on your end, but still, my advice is to try to reframe it, mentally, so that it doesn't loom so large, and your desperation dissipates. When the desperation is gone, not only is that easier for your own peace of mind, but the game designs get better as well, in my experience.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Malinsky
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
Thanks to everybody for awesome responses! Ok so it seems like the next step is to try to utilize conventions to set meetings to pitch to game companies instead of cold calls. So does anyone know how to set said meetings from experience and/or know which Cons in the Midwest are good ones to go to and types where companies would be open to meetings like this?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Craig Stockwell
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mmalinsk8 wrote:
So does anyone know how to set said meetings from experience and/or know which Cons in the Midwest are good ones to go to and types where companies would be open to meetings like this?

As conventions get close (2-4 months out, typically) publishers most open to pitches from designers they don't know will announce they're taking meetings. If you think your game is a good match, and their website says they're accepting outside submissions, there's no harm in contacting a publisher further in advance, to see if they'll be attending, and if you can set a meeting.

Midwest Cons
Protospiel Madison (Madison, WI) November 30 - December 17), 2017 [may be sold out]
Origins (Columbus, OH) June 13-17, 2018
Gen Con (Indianapolis, IN) August 2-5, 2018
Grand Con (Grand Rapids, MI) September 14-16, 2018

If you can travel a bit:
PAX Unplugged (Philadelphia, PA) November 17-19, 2017
GAMA Trade Show (Reno, NV) March 12-16, 2018
Note: GAMA Trade Show is a closed event, you must apply to be accepted into GAMA (as a freelance designer) -- check their site for more info. It's totally do-able, but an extra hoop to jump through. That said, it's one of my best shows every year for pitching!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
steve cave
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mb
Matt, have you checked into trying to Kickstart it?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
steve cave
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mb
If you do, there's a ton of stuff that's good to know WAY ahead of time - I read Jamey Stegmaier's book, A Crowdfunder's Strategy Guide, and it had a lot that I hadn't thought of. Just if you want to check out that option.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Malinsky
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
cavewolf wrote:
Matt, have you checked into trying to Kickstart it?


I have certainly thought about it lately with having some failures otherwise, but I don’t know the first thing about going the Kickstarter route. I literally wouldn’t know where to begin. I would have to check out that Jamey Stegmaier book as suggested unless it isn’t too complicated (doubt it )
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John duBois
United States
Troy
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
toon_ace wrote:
mmalinsk8 wrote:
So does anyone know how to set said meetings from experience and/or know which Cons in the Midwest are good ones to go to and types where companies would be open to meetings like this?

As conventions get close (2-4 months out, typically) publishers most open to pitches from designers they don't know will announce they're taking meetings. If you think your game is a good match, and their website says they're accepting outside submissions, there's no harm in contacting a publisher further in advance, to see if they'll be attending, and if you can set a meeting.

Midwest Cons
Protospiel Madison (Madison, WI) November 30 - December 17), 2017 [may be sold out]
Origins (Columbus, OH) June 13-17, 2018
Gen Con (Indianapolis, IN) August 2-5, 2018
Grand Con (Grand Rapids, MI) September 14-16, 2018

If you can travel a bit:
PAX Unplugged (Philadelphia, PA) November 17-19, 2017
GAMA Trade Show (Reno, NV) March 12-16, 2018
Note: GAMA Trade Show is a closed event, you must apply to be accepted into GAMA (as a freelance designer) -- check their site for more info. It's totally do-able, but an extra hoop to jump through. That said, it's one of my best shows every year for pitching!


For con travel, I recommend finding cons on the smaller side that a publisher you're targeting is attending. Origins is way better than GenCon for publisher meetings. UnPubs (including the brand new UnPub Midwest in Grand Rapids, MI this November) and Protospiels are even better for finding time, but not always as good for the publisher being in attendance.

Also, the larger the convention, the more time in advance you want to set the meeting up.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bojan Prakljacic
msg tools
Avatar
tomrussell wrote:

Never do this. Any publisher that's willing to take you up on that offer is not a publisher you'd want to get involved with. Any publisher who would be incentivized by such a thing isn't a good or a smart one.


Yeah, but you don't know the whole situation.
First, I'm from a country that doesn't have a tradition of tabletop gaming. There is maybe 1-2 % of ppl that plays board games, so there is not one publisher in my country. And surrounding counties are also not that fond of tabletop games. So, no publishers close enough to go directly and try to leave the impression.

Can't use KS because its the USA thingy, and even the EU KS is no go for me because I just don't have that much starting capital to invest and you have to have some money to begin with.

Mix that with the growing love of designing games and the positive feedback that I get from complete strangers on TTS on regular basis whenever I host a room with one of my games and you get a specific type of desperation, the one where you can clearly see that you are good at something, but you also see that you will never succeed in it.

So, yes, if the devil himself drops out from hell and asks for my soul in return for a publishing deal, I will gladly sign it with my own blood.

In the meantime, I'll continue sending my 'messages in the bottles' (that's how I like to call e-mails for publishers) standing on my little deserted island with bunch of jewels that I can't eat or use.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.