Focus 2015: Return to non-POD Games Publishing

Archery Illustration from Pearson Scott Foresman via Wikimedia Commons

{tl;dr – skip down to the 3rd-to-the-last paragraph for the announcement}

In the distant, distant way-back past (around 2010), I self-published the Second Edition of Jump Gate after the POD-produced 1st Edition was named the “2011 Traditional Game of the Year” by GAMES Magazine.

I wanted to get it “out there” as quickly as possible after the award was announced, and so — looking back now — I did just about everything the hard way. Here’s a quick-hit list of a few of the many things I did wrong:

  • Matt Worden and Jump GateI funded it myself (primarily on a credit card — don’t do this!) before I really was in a position to do this. Kickstarter never came to mind because while it did already exist , it wasn’t yet a big player in the tabletop game publishing space and I had never heard of it.
  • To maximize speed, I ordered everything separately, all produced in the US, and I assembled game boxes myself (with the help of family and friends … pro tip: have kids — they work for “free”). This increased my costs and taught me the part of the gig that I would like the least … assembly. 🙁
  • I didn’t even try to find a friendly distributor … my costs were such that there wasn’t any margin left for an extra party in the transaction. So, I had to try selling direct to retailers.
  • I learned fast and hard about niche game retail: Outside of a number of notable online sellers, there was no reason for any FLGS to buy this game from me.

At the end of this “all’s well that ends well” story, I did well enough to pay off that credit card bill over the next year, and even record a couple years of minor profits on my schedule C. But that’s a few years removed now.

Space MissionSince then, I more fully embraced the idea of POD-publishing my main set of games. I purposely design with this medium in-mind, working around the card counts and component strengths/weaknesses at TGC. I also found out about the joys of having someone else publish one of my games, and started to split my designs into 2 groups … those I’d POD and those I’d pitch to publishers.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”center” width=”33%”]”… what I really want to do is publish traditionally printed and packaged games that are sold via normal retail outlets.”[/cryout-pullquote]Even with these two viable outlets for my designs, what I really want to do is publish traditionally printed and packaged games that are sold via normal retail outlets. So, I’ve spent the past couple of years reading and learning about how other successful small publishers do things. And, I’ve also been structuring and fleshing out backstories for two different core themes: Jump Gate and Land of Danger (not quite ready to be linked to).  On the linked theme overview page for Jump Gate, I give the brief timeline of events and list the series of games I am looking to prepare and publish in a new high-end line starting in the late-2015/early-2016 timeframe.

But first, starting next week, I will be focused on the Land of Danger. I will update the backstory/history on the theme overview page and send out an official press release about the first game of a planned series there. (hint) If all goes well, this should be my main focus of 2015.

While I will continue to work on other games to be pitched to other publishers, these two core themes will be what you’ll see the MWG logo on for the near future. I plan to apply what I learned from my first go-around, what I’ve been watching others do over the past few years, and lessons from those who are accumulating great advice in this area (for example: here, here, and here). I will see if there’s a crowd that finds the games worthy to be printed via Kickstarter, I’ll have them fully produced by companies that do high quality and full service, and I’ll use out-sourced storage and fulfillment companies to avoid taking up half of my basement with game boxes and cards again.

Am I leaving POD behing? Not fully, no. I’ll continue to promote and support the games I have there now, and may also use it in new and interesting ways — we’ll have to see where that goes. As I go along, watch this website, or my Facebook Page, or my Twitter feed, to keep an eye on this journey.

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