2018 Conventions Posted and a Big IGA Pro Change

Greetings, everybody! This is a very important update for IGA members, so we ask that you please take the time to read it thoroughly.

Firstly: Our 2018 convention schedule (so far) has finally been uploaded. Sorry about the delay on that; I’ve been a slacker the last week or two, apparently. You can find it at www.indiegamealliance.com/upcomingcons.

Secondly, and also related to conventions: services for Origins, Gen Con, and WonderCon are now on sale for IGA Pro members  in the IGA Convention Services Store. As a reminder, IGA Pro members receive an exclusive window to purchase convention services before they become available to Starter members.  (You could, of course, upgrade to Pro to skip the wait.) More services will be added for other conventions in the coming days.

If you check the Convention Services Store, you’ll notice something we think you’ll appreciate: convention service prices have been reduced by more than 50% compared to 2017! This is based on extensive feedback we received over the last two years, and is driven by our desire never to price our members out of the services that will help them succeed. We’ve also eliminated the “big con upcharge”, and added a Pro member discount. All combined, you can snag demo time in the Gen Con vendor hall for as little as $25 an hour!

Plus, a little added sweetener: If you buy 4 hours of vendor booth demo time at Origins or Gen Con, we’ll give you a free hour of event hall demo time too! You must buy the 4 hours in the same transaction, and for the same show. The free demo time will be provided at the same show you buy vendor booth time for, and the same game will be demoed. Scheduling for the free hour will be at IGA’s discretion, when we have Minions available.

 

A Look Back, and the Path Ahead

When we started IGA, our mission was as it is today – to provide a suite of services to try and make every aspect of indie publishing just a little easier, and to do so at a ridiculously affordable price. In November 2015, we unveiled a streamlined IGA Pro plan that replaced the convoluted four-tier (at one point, six-tier!) service offering. At just $20 a month, it was the cost of a blind loot box, and offered a host of really great services, like an international demo team, publisher matchmaking, and convention sales.

And then we kept growing.

Since then, we’ve added over fifty discount programs ranging from manufacturing and fulfillment to advertising and postcards, and virtually everything in between. We’ve added tools to allow members to create custom feedback surveys and certification programs for their games. We built a full e-commerce platform to get your games into Minion hands quicker and get games played even faster, and then added IGA Boosts to incentivize Minions to choose your games. We’ve given you full transparency into our inventory of your games, including real-time notifications when your games are sold at conventions, and used automation to quintuple the speed at which you get paid for sales after the show ends.

We’ve hooked into Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator so your games can be demoed in the digital world. We’ve linked your Studio Game Catalog up with The Game Crafter and BoardGameGeek to make managing your game catalog a snap. We’ve improved demo reports and provided historical searchability.

We’ve completely revamped our playtesting offering to give you more visibility and far better feedback in a more timely fashion.  We’ve started warehousing sample kits from industry-leading manufacturers so you can quickly grab several to choose from for just the cost of shipping. We’ve built an artificial intelligence module to analyze your member profile on an ongoing basis and tell you how we can help you better. And, we’ve done everything in that paragraph in just the last two months.

Our footprint has exploded, too. We’ve increased our warehouse space by a factor of six, and we’re about to do it again because it’s bursting at the seams. Whereas the back of my Scion used to work for convention stock, now we overload a U-Haul box truck when we go to every show – more than triple the number of conventions we worked in 2015. We dropped thousands of dollars completely revamping our booth fixtures before Gen Con 2017 to give our members and their games a sleeker, cleaner look. We sponsor several indie-focused shows to help new studios thrive. Our Minion team is five times the size it was, and we serve nearly four times as many members, as we did then. We ship over 12 times as many games to Minions in a given month than we did in 2015.

The last four paragraphs weren’t written to brag, though I’m admittedly awfully proud to look back and see how far we’ve come. I felt that it was necessary to provide this retrospective to illustrate the point we have to make next: for all we’ve added, we’ve never asked Pro subscribers for anything more.

We’re reaching a point where IGA is limited in its continued growth by what we can afford to do. We can’t significantly expand our convention booths (in size or quantity). We certainly can’t afford to hire staff help, meaning Victoria and I are still juggling all of this as a two-person band, and I still have a day job. Neither of us draw a paycheck from IGA. New Pro subscriptions have been keeping pace with rising expenses, but without providing us the sort of clearance we need to grow. We hate telling our members no when they ask for a cool new feature or if we’ll be at their favorite convention, but it’s long been the finances that have held us back.

We had hoped, going into 2016, that conventions  would be the breadwinner that allowed us to really invest in the company. We priced our services accordingly, and we found that it was too big an ask for the service provided. Our members spoke, and they were right. We can’t ask a member who just wants to borrow a table for an hour at a show to subsidize a certification program or a warehouse floor they may not even be using. That’s why we’re slashing the price of convention services today, and simultaneously making a hard choice that we really believe is the right one for everyone.

Starting February 10, 2018, the cost of IGA Pro will be increasing to $30 a month, with quarterly billing available for $75 and annual billing for $300. We’re confident that the service delivers a ton more value than it did when we launched IGA Pro in 2015, and that the new things we’ve added – and the new things we’ll be able to add as a result – are absolutely worth the additional ten bucks.

If you have pre-paid for quarterly or annual subscriptions, every second of your remaining subscription time will be honored. If you bought a year of IGA Pro yesterday, you still have a year of IGA Pro today at the same price. Once your subscription renews, it will do so at the higher rate.

If you are a Starter member, or on the monthly or quarterly Pro plans, you have a limited window of opportunity here: If you upgrade to an Annual plan before midnight Eastern on February 10, you can lock in the old $200/year rate for 2018. Unfortunately, our credit card processor makes “tacking a year on” to a subscription a royal pain, so we’re unable to offer that to existing annual subscribers.

We really believe that the new IGA Pro pricing is still eminently affordable and a fantastic value. We’ve agonized about doing this for months, but the time is right, and the amount of additional growth this will fuel will be well worth the minimal additional investment on the part of our members.

As always, we’re available to answer any questions or concerns at support@indiegamealliance.com or on any of our social media platforms. We thank you for your support these last four years, and can’t wait to show you what we’re cooking up for 2018 and beyond!

New: Bonus Loot Points for Photos in Demo Reports

Over the last few months, we’ve heard a lot of feedback from our members about our demo reports and ways that they could be more useful. Almost universally, we hear that photos attached to demo reports make them much more valuable. Today, we’ve made a simple but critical change that we hope encourages more Minion photography work.

Effective immediately, demo reports that include an uploaded image will earn 1 extra Loot Point. Like all other Loot Points, it will be doubled for games on Boost and tripled for playtest games.

We’ll also select a Photo of the Month for featuring on social media and our newsletter. The Minion that takes that photo will receive 20 extra Loot Points and a special achievement!

The other major comment we hear about demo reports is that the designers/publishers would like more player-level feedback. We’d like to remind all of our members that some time ago, we developed a custom survey editor that’s available to all Pro members. It can be found from the Studio Dashboard. You can make a survey for each game and expansion, with adding questions as simple as drag-and-drop. The surveys get completed by players on their mobile devices and generally take no more than a minute to complete. The surveys are available on our website to view by publishers, and will be emailed to you in real time.

Minions are reminded to encourage players to complete surveys at every demo. Games which don’t have a custom survey attached have a simple, basic default survey, so you never have to worry about whether a survey exists. If you want quick access to the survey, you can generate QR codes which embed your user ID, and even the game ID if you want to print one for each of your games, from both the Minion and Studio dashboards. Once a month, we randomly draw  one survey, and the Minion that collected it receives 20 bonus Loot Points!

Announcing IGA’s All-New Playtesting Service

Greetings! We hope you’ve been having a fantastic holiday season. Here at IGA HQ, I’ve been working on something to address a situation which I think we can all agree IGA has been less than stellar at in the past – playtesting. I’d hoped to release this in the first quarter of 2018, but I pulled out the stops and managed to finish it early!

In the past, we’ve set our playtest requirements pretty fast and loose. Send us a prototype, we’ll work on it when we can, that sort of thing. The issue is, IGA needs to hang on to a prototype for any game we work with, for a variety of reasons. So, when we only get one copy, that means Victoria and I have to do the playtests personally. As you might imagine, we’re pretty busy between day jobs and running IGA, and we don’t get out to run events anywhere near as often as we might like. This has lead to unconscionable delays in playtest feedback, and also slowed down IGA administrative work like shipping orders and developing new features.

Because we didn’t want prototypes just tossed out into the wild, we never added them to our reward store inventory. The big downside of this was that when we had extra copies of a prototype, we had no effective way to tell the minions it was available.

Well, today, we change all that. We’re announcing IGA’s new and improved playtesting service. Here’s the core of how it works:

  • Designers send us a minimum of four prototypes, and provide us all the required information for a successful playtest
  • Designers create a custom feedback survey for their game, to fine-tune exactly the sort of feedback they’re looking for from players
  • Minions who have earned a minimum of 100 loot points by running demos may join the playtesting team
  • Playtesters may select a maximum of two prototypes at a time from the IGA store, so they don’t cause a playtesting bottleneck
  • By taking a prototype, a Minion agrees to run a minimum of five playthroughs and collect a minimum of 5 * X player surveys over the course of six weeks, where X is the minimum number of players for a game
  • Once the above requirements are met, the Minion completes a brief final playtesting report for the designer
  • All of the Minion’s loot points earned as part of the playtest are tripled as soon as the playtest report is approved

We expect there will be questions. Please refer to the Studio Playtesting Guide and/or Minion Playtesting Guide for more specifics and frequently-asked questions.

For members who already have games in our old playtesting pipeline, Victoria and I will be working through these in the coming few weeks on the old system, as we don’t have enough copies to distribute to Minions in most cases. All remaining prototypes in stock have been added to the new prototype store. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your playtest-in-progress, please reach out to Victoria at vholden@indiegamealliance.com. (It still feels so good to type my last name as hers!)

Minions eligible to join the playtesting team will be receiving invitation emails today. Any Minion may learn more about the program and determine their eligibility at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/minion/playtesting.

As always, feedback is welcome in our IGA Developers’ Lounge and IGA League of Minions groups on Facebook. I’ll do my best to be available in both today to answer questions.

Introducing IGA Checkups

Hey there, Team IGA! I just finished implementing a feature I’ve long wanted to add to our arsenal, which I am hoping will really help you take advantage of IGA’s myriad of benefits. I can’t tell you how many times I hear members tell me, “I didn’t know IGA offered that!” We’re hoping that our new Checkups feature will alleviate that.

Once a month, you’ll receive an email that goes through all of your profile settings, games and inventory stock, and makes intelligent suggestions based on patterns we detect for demo reports, sales, and so forth. It’ll identify areas where we can work together to improve things, IGA services you could be benefiting from, and incomplete data on your studio profile or game catalog. It’ll help you stay on top of bringing new games into our system and supporting old ones, too.

Want to check your progress? You can also view your checkup in real-time at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/studio/checkup. Don’t want to receive the emails? You can opt out using our new-and-improved email alert settings page at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/studio/alerts.

These emails will go out on the 3rd of every month, but since it’s after that date now, the December ones are sending as I type this.

Any questions? Just reply to the checkup email; it’ll go right to your designated account rep. We’re really hoping that this system will help bring you timely information about the IGA services that can be of the most help for whatever you’re working on right now.

As always, we welcome member feedback about this new service in our IGA Developers’ Lounge on Facebook.

By Popular Demand: Routing IGA notification emails to different addresses

Feels great to be coding on the IGA site again! By popular demand, you can now route demo report, survey, certification, and store purchase notifications each to separate email addresses. This should help out studios which have a couple employees with different responsibilities.

Set your preferences at  https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/studio/alerts.php!

Our Directors are Getting Married – and You Get the Presents!

It brings Team IGA great joy to formally announce that our two directors, Matt Holden and Victoria Hardman, are getting married on November 11, 2017! We’re having a sale on annual IGA Pro subscriptions to celebrate (and to help raise some dough for the honeymoon!) From now through the wedding, Pro subscriptions are just $175 for the first year — the lowest price we’ve ever had on the IGA Pro package! Plus, for the first time ever, existing IGA Pro annual subscribers can add time to their subscription at the sale price!

We had to reschedule the wedding from its original October 7 date due to unforeseen circumstances, and have had to re-plan the entire wedding from scratch in just 44 days. This came right on the heels of our Hurricane Irma recovery. As you may imagine, it has been beyond hectic here, and you may have noticed it in our response times. Victoria and I deeply appreciate how patient and supportive the IGA community has been over the last few months as we’ve worked through the myriad of distractions and chaos that have befallen us. We’ve got some big things planned for IGA in the coming months, and once we get back from the honeymoon, my new bride and I are going to get back to work in a big way. 2018 is going to be an exciting time for team IGA!

Our warehouse is currently closed until after the wedding, and support will be somewhat limited over the next two weeks. We intend to be pretty unreachable from Friday (Nov. 10) through the end of the honeymoon on Tuesday (Nov. 14).

For those of you trying to reach Victoria, be advised that her email address will be changing to vholden@indiegamealliance.com. Both the new address and the old one work now, and we will leave both up and running for a while.

If you’re curious about the wedding itself, you can get all the details on our wedding website at http://www.AsWeBecome.us! We’re looking into options to livestream the ceremony.

We’re Back!

Hey, everybody! Good news – IGA HQ is back up and running! We got power & telecom connectivity back on Monday night. As you might imagine, a week of misery has taken something of a toll on us, and our to-do list is obscenely long, but we’re working through it as quickly as we can. Thank you all for your patience — and please continue to give it for a few more days while we catch up. Thanks also to everyone for their well-wishes and concern. Now — back to gaming!

Member & Minion Support Closing 9/8 Due to Hurricane Irma

We’re closely monitoring the track of Hurricane Irma, which is presently forecast to impact the Orlando area on Sunday. As with all storms of this nature, we do not know what to expect in terms of power outages, etc. until the storm has passed. Therefore, we are preemptively closing all member and minion support effective Friday, September 8. We will reopen on Monday, September 10 if we are able to do so, and if not, we will do our best to get the word out about our status. We were already operating on limited availability due to our post-Gen Con vacation.

The data center that hosts indiegamealliance.com is also in the path of the storm, however, it is a world-class facility that’s built to withstand these types of events, so we shouldn’t experience website downtime. In the event it happens, however, look to our Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates.

As with all major hurricanes, we strongly encourage anyone in the path of this storm to check your emergency plan and supplies and be prepared. The National Hurricane Center has rated Irma as the strongest Atlantic storm it has ever recorded. Stay safe, and play lots of board games — even if you have to do so by candlelight.

Gen Con: Day 4, The Trek Home, and What’s Next

Be it ever so humid, there’s no place like home. Team IGA just arrived back at HQ after a whirlwind eight days. We are exhausted beyond belief, but excited about what comes next for IGA.

Sunday at Gen Con

Sunday was our day for Victoria and I to walk the exhibit hall and do some networking. We had some very productive meetings — including signing a partnership with a pretty major player in the industry, dropping off some review games with Tom Vasel, spent some time in the game library on the 50-yard-line of an NFL stadium, and possibly getting one of our members’ games picked up by a major publisher. It was a good day!

Meanwhile, Billy and Jason were in the booth rocking sales. As you may have seen, we broke our previous record for sales at a convention by about $300. Sunday was the slowest sales day of the four, despite our usual 10% off Sunday sale, but we’re very happy with that aspect of the con. We’re attributing our performance to a combination of our fantastic location, the new booth fixtures, and some great games on hand.

As we packed up and throughout the show, several of our members left us stock to bring home for our Minions. We have to get it all into our inventory system and refresh the store, but we think Minions will be very happy with some of their new options. We’ve got new & restocked games and accessories coming in from Gut Bustin’ Games, Overworld Games, Elzra Games, DPH Games, VRSoft, Noble Quest, Argyle Games, Zafty Games, and Thunderworks Games (yes, that one).

Saturday night’s Publisher Speed Dating was a huge success as well; we witnessed a few games get offers right there on the spot. We’re hopeful that we’ll be invited back to host it next year.  We’ll post a photo album in the coming days.

Why so Vague? Watch this Space.

We know, we know. We keep saying things like “a partner” and “a member”. You want details! There’s simply too much news to share in one post; it would be thousands of words and not do half of the things we need to talk about justice. As a result, we’ll be doing lots of posts over the coming days and weeks to announce all the new goodies as we have a chance to process them and make sure all the details are checked and the ink is dry.

We strongly recommend that you keep a close eye on our newsletter and on the Facebook groups for members and Minions — if you aren’t in these groups, now would be a great time to join.

IGA Year in Review

Not only is Gen Con the biggest show we do all year, it’s also the end of our year. This is normally when I reflect on the year that passed and announce new stuff for the year to come. On the absurdly long drive there and back, Victoria and I spent a lot of time talking about the future of IGA, and we’re going to be announcing the results of those conversations over the next few weeks. We think you’ll like what we’ve come up with. Expect to hear from us a lot soon…

… but not yet.

We’re going to need the next few days to wrap up Gen Con, and then we’re going to start working on the 2017-2018 year for IGA. Before we do, however, we’re going to go radio silent for a few days. We are positively spent after three major conventions in the span of 60 days, and we need a break to recharge. We will get Gen Con squared away first, and then after a week or so, we’ll be back in full swing, and boy, are we going to hit the ground running with what we have planned!

 

 

Gen Con Report: Dawn of the Final Day

Time flies when you’re having fun, and here we are at the last day of Gen Con 2017. So much has been happening that it’s been hard to find time to sit down and talk to you about it all. For the second night in a row, I passed out at the computer trying to write this update because we are cramming so much awesome into this show. I can pretty unequivocally say that this has been the best show in IGA history – despite the fact that I seem to have lost my glasses and am blind as a bat and unable to play games.

Sales

We are presently about $400 from breaking our record for best sales volume at a con. We’re attributing some of that to the pretty new booth, some to the sellout crowd, and some to our sales team kicking butt this year. We’ll be doing our usual 10% off MSRP Sunday sale today, which should help even more.

We’ll be releasing a poll after the show asking you what you think about a couple of ideas we’ve had about pricing and so forth at cons, to try to help us sell even more.

Sales continue to be most brisk among members who have:
* Purchased demo time at the convention
* Taken the time to tweet that their game is available at booth #361
* Given us promo cards or similar that we can use as gifts with purchase

We will be focusing pretty heavily on making those three things easier for future shows, because we’ve statistically seen how well they work.

Partnerships

We’ve had a couple of fantastic meetings with some potential partners, including some household names. I don’t want to announce anything prematurely, but I will tell you we’ve had very positive conversations with 6 manufacturers and the most requested potential partner we’ve had. We’ve also partnered with a few content creators to help you get the word out about your games, and with a company that could do some pretty fantastic things for IGA member sales. I know that all of this is very vague; that’s deliberate until the ink is dry and people are finally set up. I promise, they’ll be worth it.

Publisher Speed Dating

We ran James Mathe’s publisher speed dating event at Gen Con this year, and it was a smash success! We had publishers outnumber designers both days despite being scheduled simultaneously with some can’t-miss events, and I personally witnessed at least five designers get appointments to discuss contracts. It was an opportunity for us to meet a few IGA designers in person that we’d previously only known online, and also to talk to a bunch of new designers and publishers about joining the IGA team.

We’re super proud that James asked us to get involved, and hope we can do so in future years! I’ll be posting pictures later today when all of the Minions who took them get them over to me.

The New Booth…

… is going fantastically well. We’ve had some minor issues with the banners, which we’ll get fixed after the show. I’m a little concerned that it limits the number of distinct items we can carry, but I’ve got some ideas to try to improve that for future shows. We’re getting tons of compliments, especially from people who saw us at Origins and can really see how significant the upgrade is.

Demos

Demos in the booth have been going wonderfully — there have often been people two and three deep around the Table of Ultimate Gaming where we’re running our demos. It’s resulting in quite a few sales as well, which is what we all want to hear. Again, my team has a ton of photos; I’ve personally been in meetings all con and not had much chance to get my shutterbug on. After the show, I’ll do a mass photo dump once everyone sends me their shots.

Scheduled events outside the vendor hall have been a little hit or miss. Some have been completely sold out, others sparsely attended. As with sales, we’re finding that the key difference-maker is whether or not the publishers have taken the time to drive traffic via their social media. If you have a demo on Sunday, take some time and tweet about it and let’s get these tables filled up! If you need to know when your event is scheduled, it should be on the schedule we posted a few days ago, or you can reach out to us (though we may be slow to respond because we’re in meetings.)

On Tap for Today

We’re doing our 10% off sale on everything in the booth, so expect a flurry of sales notifications. Victoria and I will not be in the booth most of the day, as we’re walking around the exhibit hall to recruit new members and have some more conversations. Come say hi to Jason Gough and Billy Salazar, our NY and CA convention leads respectively! Of course, we also have the breakdown tonight at 4, and then the long trek home; we’re trying to make it to Georgia by 2pm tomorrow so we can be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse.

Wish us luck!