Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pitching advice

Some good-sounding advice from Corey Young here, guest writing at Hyperbole Games.  I've never tried to pitch a game to a publisher at a convention, but this seems like a sound set of guidelines for doing so, and if Corey can be believed, it may actually work.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kickstarter dangers

Great post over at BGG by a Nathan McNair, an aspiring Kickstarter self-publisher at Pandasaurus Games, who points out that even with Kickstarter, the economics of publishing don't work until you're at a huge number of units.  He says he's $2000 in the hole from his publishing effort before even starting Kickstarter.  I'm probably around $1,200.

A big chunk of that is the filing fee plus two years of LLC fees ($450); not sure I'd recommend that for everybody starting out, but I think it was the right move for me to protect my other assets.

Another big chunk is web hosting (probably around $200); I saved by pre-paying for this site for several years, but I had to put up the cash at the start.

The rest is mostly printing up demo/test copies of my games; I've spent probably $300-$400 on that for many different items plus shipping.  Beyond that, some incidentals like toner and paper; I've also bought a bunch of glass stones, dice, and pawns and such for testing copies.

As income, I have very little.  I have a relatively low number of low-margin sales from for my games published there, and I have one larger multi-unit sale of Diggity to a friend who bought a number of copies as holiday gifts.  I probably netted $40 on that.

So, even if I did a Kickstarter campaign, unless I hit it out of the park, I'd never get back those sunk expenses. Kickstarter does two things well:

  1. allows you to raise capital if you don't have enough to self-fund a print run 
  2. allows you to eliminate the middle-man costs of distributors and stores
The first is extremely important if you don't have money to burn; your game doesn't happen without it.

The second is a big deal; you go from getting about 25% of the sales price through distribution to 90% of the sales price (after Kickstarter fees).  However, as I've commented on before, unless you're making more than 3000 copies, the math doesn't work anyway - your cost of production is going to be $5-10 even for a small game without moving parts; add shipping and art into that, and you're easily up to $15-20 per game just to get them made.  You're not going to run a Kickstarter campaign selling a simple game for more than $20 or $25 - you're just not competitive with commercial games then - and Kickstarter buyers usually expect shipping to be included in their price.  That's another $5 per game at least.

So, roughly speaking, you don't make money on Kickstarter until you hit a really high sales figure.  Even saying it's 2000 copies, at $25 a pop that means you've got to interest 2000 people and raise $50,000, in a game they've never seen.  A very tall order.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Projects On

I have added two of my recent projects to the Plankton Games website - see:


Neither of these is published yet, but I wanted to get some info up on the site.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Diggity Art

Got my new version of Diggity, with art from Joshua Bennett, up on  The new art looks slick (see it here); my old art is here.

Friday, March 2, 2012 is a game design website run by John Moller. I heard of it through coverage of a convention of sorts they run for unpublished game designers called Unpub, which just had its second iteration in January (unfortunately, I only heard of it in February, or I might have tried to go).  The two main Unpub events have been in Dover, Delaware, but they're starting to spawn Mini-Unpubs at various locations around the country; there's a schedule of events (and a slick way to add them to your Google Calendar) on the site.

John has just announced a new site for unpublished games called Unpub.Net, which is a place to list unpublished games.  It seems to be sort of a hybrid between a designer community site and a consolidator for unpublished designs, where you can list your games, and then publishers could come browse designs and see if any are to their liking.

It's a neat idea; I'm not sure that publishers (who I understand get hundreds of submissions and pitches directly already) will go here to search through the site, but it could still a good way to get some exposure, and the community aspect could be really useful - a way to get commentary, reviews, and playtesters, and to hear about the in-person Unpub events, which I think would be a great way to test out a design.