Behind The Joy #13: All Systems Go For Launch!
Commissioned is slated to hit shelves around the beginning of Dec 2015. That means almost 2 years passed between initial concept and publication. Based on our research, 2-3 years is a standard timeframe for a game’s design, development, and publication. So after working for 2 years, what is left to do before the game releases?
The first few games assembled are typically expedited to the publisher for final checks. These games can be worth their weight in gold for several reasons. First, you can now demo the game with its final components. Besides being immensely gratifying for you, this helps new players enjoy the game that much more. Second, you can send out production copies to reviewers. Many of the largest reviewers no longer do reviews on pre-production Kickstarter games. Now that you have a production copy, these reviewers, and their audiences, are now open to you. Third, these early copies can be prizes in early contests. Whether you decide to run a contest through BoardGameGeek or a different venue, the promise of getting one of the first copies of a game can bring in a lot of attention. Which leads me to…
Aligning the Release Buzz
Reviews, contests, and fulfilled Kickstarters are great initial steps to a solid release. As the publisher, your challenge is to arrange all of these things so they coincide just before, or just as, your game makes it through the distribution pipeline. This means expediting production copies to required places in order to hit some timelines. Remember, the distributor is going to heavily evaluate the first few months of sales. If you want them to keep carrying your product, align your buzz!
A few other sources can help your release buzz. You know those podcasts you listen to and blogs you read? Contact them, and ask if they will review your game, are interested in interviewing you, or if you could contribute some content to their site. This is a great way to get your game, and your company, a little more exposure. Consider using a marketing agency, like the Double Exposure Envoy Program, to help augment your convention presence and game store visibility. Next, give back to the board gaming community. Chances are very high that some people provided you resources that equipped you for your journey. Take time to do the same. Share your experience in whatever venue appeals to you. You will be amazed how many people will interact with you as you do so! Finally, never forget to engage your gaming community! Building demand for your game starts with gamers. If you can convince gamers to ask their stores to carry your game, it will help you gain, and maintain, access to distribution.
Celebrating A New Beginning
Releasing your game is an important moment in the life of a designer and publisher. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments. The market will give you feedback on your game soon enough. There will be good reviews and bad reviews. BGG play sessions that went outstanding and some less than that will soon hit you like lightning bolts. Through it all, remember that you did it! You created something for other people to enjoy. You helped make the world a better place. Bring in your family and friends, and enjoy some well-deserved good times!
Thanks for helping us share our experiences. We hope they equipped you to follow your dream. We will continue this blog, albeit a little less frequently, on topics pertaining to our company or the game design/publishing process. Just like a good board game, we may have some expansions up our sleeve yet!
Pat & Kat Lysaght