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Subject: SPQF...why not international shipping?! rss

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Grant Rodiek
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With the KS launching on Monday, July 16, and reviews starting to go around, momentum for the game is picking up and I'm starting to receive a flood of frustrations regarding the fact the game does not ship outside of the United States. Instead of answering these one at a time, or providing a generic response, I thought it was worth devoting a little bit of time to answering this question comprehensively.

Key to this discussion is a fact that will frame all of this. I am not a business, or a publisher. I'm a dude who loves to design board games. And, I love working with artists and exploring things. I prefer this generally to chasing publishers, and I don't mind the extra work. Because this isn't my job, but a hobby, it means my scale is VERY tiny.

Based on previous games, I believe SPQF will sell 200 to 500 units. Let me share some numbers. I make about $8ish per unit sold. The rest of the money pays for tokens, cards, boxes, rules, shipping boxes, and postage. Until I sell about 400 Units, I lose money. Why? Well, illustrations and graphic design cost money. I try to pay my partners fairly, and I pay them before the campaign. While traditional publishers amortize the cost of art over the course of multiple printings, I don't do multiple printings.

If I sell 500, which would make SPQF my best selling game in this model, I would earn about $1000 profit. It's less than that, but round numbers are simpler. That $1000 is what pays for my design, publishing, rules videos, rules support, customer service, testing, and the act of packing hundreds of games myself. Put another way: until I sell 400 copies, I'm doing all of this work for free, or at a loss.

TLDR: There is almost no money involved in this for me. It's a labor of love. This isn't my job, but how I choose to spend a little money every year. I set aside a little bit of my bonus every year as my publishing fun money.

Therefore, keep that in mind as we discuss the rest.

Shipping games outside of the United States will cost me approximately $20 to $50 depending on where, how I ship, and multiple factors. That is incredibly expensive, and as a result, very few international backers would actually pay that amount. And, as it's so expensive, not only would they not pay (justifiably), but it would generate a lot of ill will.

A handful of publishers have actively worked to improve the cost of international shipping. While I'm not the recipient of these improvements, so I cannot say for sure, companies like Stonemaier Games and CMON seem to be doing a much better job in this department. For one, their scale far exceeds mine. I'm hoping to raise $20,000 with SPQF, which as of last night was .0118% of the money raised by Death May Die. Secondly, these are real businesses, with full time employees, which allows them to create relationships with distributors, warehouses, retail networks, and more.

But, let's say I charge $30 to ship SPQF abroad and I do it myself. We have a few more complications.

Firstly is choosing which territories to support. Let's say I go with Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy. Do I support Australia? Russia? Denmark? Japan? If I don't back those, I'm suddenly angering different groups for my decisions. It's much easier to be cut and dry.

Different countries have different formats of entering addresses, different characters on the keyboard, different import fees, and more. Right now I work with a partner to import US addresses from a .csv and print labels at home. This gets much harder when you go abroad, and I know from experience: we shipped internationally with Hocus. If I have 5 Australian backers, 2 Japanese backers, 1 Russian, 30 British...it's just a mess.

For a hobby in which I'll make about $1000 (at most!), this is dramatically more complex.

Customer service is also a concern. When you buy one of my products, I'm signing up for support. If you have a mis-printed card, missing a token, or a box gets smashed in transit, I'll fix it. The cost is almost negligible in the United States. It's incredibly expensive abroad. If I have to replace a copy abroad, the cost to ship it alone consumes the profits made from about 5 customers. Let's say I have to replace 5 copies abroad. That really starts to ding my already lousy margins.

There is also the issue of bad customers. When I was fulfilling Hocus, I had multiple cases of customers simply not going to the post officer to pick up their game. It was then returned to me. They would then contact me with anger for not having their game. I would try to fix it, and AGAIN they wouldn't pick it up! I lost $100 on one woman alone before I finally refunded her (at a further lost).

Ultimately, there is a chance that a proper, real publisher will sign SPQF for publication in the future. I would be open to that. They may change the game some, replace the art, but also, will ship internationally. I've have several people in the past use freight forwarding. You could also ship to a US friend who is attending Essen for a hand off. Or, you can buy the full resolution PNP that I'll be offering (or just play the ugly version for free on this site).

In 2018 it's really lousy that, as connected as the world is, I cannot ship a game around the world for folks who want to support me. But, I do this for fun. I spend a lot of time, money, and effort on great art, great design, great components. This all gets a lot less viable and frankly a lot less fun if I have to become an international shipper as well. I hope you understand.

grant
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Chris Morris
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I completely understand. Ducks not being able to get a copy though but your time is far more important than shipping a handful of games to international backers.

I wish the pickup at SHUX option was still on the table as it was the best option for myself and several others but now that you're not going, I'll look at maybe backing and grabbing the PnP files you provide.

Best if luck starting Monday! I hope it's a successful campaign for you.
 
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Tim Tix
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Definitely. All the best with the campaign and the game. I might pick up the PnP as well.

Also, if you find a bigger publisher, please make it SPQS
(Apparently "foresty" could be silvosus, saltuosus or silvester.)

And if a German publisher knocks on your door, that was me.
 
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Grant Rodiek
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TimTix wrote:
Definitely. All the best with the campaign and the game. I might pick up the PnP as well.

Also, if you find a bigger publisher, please make it SPQS
(Apparently "foresty" could be silvosus, saltuosus or silvester.)

And if a German publisher knocks on your door, that was me.


Heh, yes, I'm 100% aware that forest in Latin begins with an S. I figured when I'm making a really stupid Latin language pun, I don't have to be 100% accurate along the way.
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Tim Tix
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Oh, no, sorry. I guess I was 100% sure you were 100% aware.

I think for me as a German that stupid pun would be funnier if it was SPQW

I'll probably have to go with "foresta" or "forestatus" or something.
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Grant Rodiek
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TimTix wrote:
Oh, no, sorry. I guess I was 100% sure you were 100% aware.

I think for me as a German that stupid pun would be funnier if it was SPQW

I'll probably have to go with "foresta" or "forestatus" or something.


Zero offense here. I tend to have at least one super indulgent choice in all of my games. A thing I do that I #shouldnotdo. With SPQF, it's probably the name. It's hard to say. It's hard to type. It doesn't mean anything to 99% of people.

It's really stupid.

I couldn't resist.
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dilkROM
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Great write-up, Grant, and I totally understand. As I've been making the transition from single person who likes to design to full-on indie publisher I can totally agree that international shipping and support requires a team to do it properly. I commend your decision and your dedication.

Also, if you are looking for a publisher (especially one seated in Germany) you know us at Quality Beast are always interested in your work. Perhaps I'll DM you during the campaign.
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Iain Brown
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It's a shame, it looks like a cool game, but I get it.

It's a pity there doesn't seem to be any good PoD services in the UK, else I'd probably back the PnP level and get it printed that way.
 
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Grant Rodiek
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FritzBraun wrote:
It's a shame, it looks like a cool game, but I get it.

It's a pity there doesn't seem to be any good PoD services in the UK, else I'd probably back the PnP level and get it printed that way.


I’m so thankful for such incredibly robust pod services here in the states. I wouldn’t be designing games without them.
 
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Dubious Virtue
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An old thread but for future reference for anyone outside the USA - I used a redirecting service. It was $26 US. Quick and no problems reshipping to my PO Box here in Australia.
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