So my business partner and I are looking at two virtually completed games, ready for final product testing before we launch our Kickstarter campaigns in the New Year. Hopefully 2017 will mean reviewing distribution schedules as well as starting work on our next game and beginning the cycle anew.
However, before we get there, we need to build up a presence and market our products to customers and our peers. Board games have come on leaps and bounds in recent years and consumers expect a certain level of quality, even with prototypes, that is hard to achieve without an initial investment in the art and design.
Having said that, this weekend, we attended Dragonmeet at the West London Novotel in Hammersmith and we saw some games in their infancy, both board games and RPGs were on offer, one guy even told us he had commenced his Kickstarter campaign that very morning. From what we saw of his design though, it didn’t really show much promise of being anything more than an idea he’d fleshed out a bit. There was only one piece of artwork, and a character sheet based on a system that was already in existence. We told him we had had our own experience of crowd funding and that we were told in feedback that we really needed a more polished campaign in order to succeed in reaching our goal. However, and he said this with no reservation whatsoever, “yeah, I think board games are a different matter.” Well for his sake, I certainly hope that’s true.
The other people we spoke to, described their games in terms of their unique selling points, but not in terms of games for gamers. I found that a little unusual. I mean, when writing a rulebook, you tend to start at the beginning, and explain key terms at the beginning of each section before breaking it down. Whether it was because it was getting to the end of the day, or just because of the questions we were asking, it felt as though the marketing was misjudged.
Not enough to put us off looking a little more at the products they were selling though. I mean, we all have off-days and they have only a short amount of time to get their sales pitch across, but it got me thinking about the image of the game, of us, of the company as a whole and how you’ve only got a finite space to sell it all to investors, customers and to your peers in the industry.
The next thing that struck us was the fact that you have to be part of the community, up close and personal with the industry, and those producing games in order to appeal to the masses. The hobby is still very niche in that regard, and so having a grounded foot in the community seems to really help, especially, it would seem, in the smaller conventions. We are still very much fumbling about in the dark trying to get a fan base. Growing a company, and creating a following is very much harder than it sounds. The internet is saturated with people trying to create something and get interest for a forthcoming creation, and you not only have to have a great concept but an engaging marketing campaign.
So here we are now, attempting to read up on marketing strategies, reading blogs of our peers and posting questions and comments on relevant websites. We also need to take our creations out on the road to both local and national conventions and meetups, and hope that some word of mouth will also do some good in promoting our games and our brand.
As a final thought on the subject, I think I can confess that it all seems to be a very hard thing to gauge public opinion, but I hope people will put their faith in what we have.