All posts by Matt Holden

IGA’s Minion Manual is Live!

One of the longest-requested features of the IGA site is live at long last. IGA now has a comprehensive Minion Manual! Minions and potential Minions can browse this living reference to learn or refresh themselves on such topics as:

  • Filing a demo report
  • Policies for demos
  • Caring for your game library
  • Learning about options available to our members
  • How to get credit for referring new Minions
  • Public Minion profiles and Achievements
  • Collecting demo surveys
  • Volunteering at conventions, including hotel and badge allocations
  • Running special events like publisher speed dating, Tabletop Day, and Extra Life
  • Our playtesting program
  • Account management
  • Minion code of conduct

… and more! Particularly observant Minions might find a way to earn a new achievement as well.

Minions should consider all policies in this guide to be in force, and that you are responsible for upholding all policies and procedures described within.

IGA would like to extend a huge thanks to Minion Kurt Winkler, who wrote 90% of this guide over the last few weeks and brought a project that has been on the to-do list for 57 months to completion in just a matter of weeks. Thanks for all you do, Kurt!

Designer / Publisher Member Manual Coming Soon!

Members, don’t fret!

Matt and Kurt are working on a manual for you next!

The Member Manual will include details on how to use every nook and cranny of the IGA website and service offerings to maximize the value we deliver to you for your subscription and take your game to the next level. Look for the Member Manual in early March!

IGA selected as Organized Play Provider for Dice Throne

We’re thrilled to announce that IGA member Roxley Game Laboratory has chosen IGA to run its new Organized Play Program for its smash-hit title, Dice Throne!

Roxley has merged its existing Diceroy corps with the IGA Minion team. Minions may join the ranks of the Diceroys by signing up with Roxley at diceroys.dicethrone.com. Existing Diceroys will need to sign up for the Minion program on indiegamealliance.com. Diceroys are required to join the Roxley Discord server.

Minions that participate in the Diceroy program will be eligible for great swag for running Dice Throne tournaments at their local conventions and game stores. Of course, Diceroys joining the Minion program are eligible to demo not just Dice Throne, but any of our other 1100+ member publishers’ games.

As a result of this merger, In the past week, IGA’s demo force has grown in size by over 6%, with 43 new Minions signing up, and we’re now just shy of 800 volunteers worldwide. This is the sort of impact that happens when IGA members take the time to drive their fans to the demo program — remember, a larger team means more demos for everyone!

Roxley is the first of hopefully many members to take advantage of IGA for organized play. If you are a member interested in implementing organized play through IGA, please contact Matt at mholden@indiegamealliance.com to discuss.

Introducing our Updated Invoice Module

Hey there! We’ve just rolled out our new, vastly improved invoice module. You can check it out at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/invoices.

Previously, this page only showed you “manual” invoice we generated for one-off charges, but I frequently get requests for re-sent invoices for subscription charges, store orders, or convention service purchases. Now, you can see all of these in one place, conveniently date-sorted, at any time.

We’ve also added some other useful data to the invoice page, such as direct links to related store orders, subscription details, and card information. Remember, IGA does not store any information on your credit card details; Stripe handles all of that. 

If you need to add some data to your invoices, for example, a VAT number or IČO number, you can now do so on your Account Profile located at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/profile.

Any data you add here will then get appended to the Invoice To section of your invoices.

Unfortunately, we can’t easily add it to the emailed Stripe receipt, but you can always get it from your invoice history.

We hope this new module will help our members that have more stringent accounting requirements.  As always, this is new code, so please let us know if you have any issues with it.

Hey Designers! Say Hello to IGA Lite!

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about different types of game creators. One of the big things we hear a lot lately is that folks don’t necessarily all want to go through the hassle of a Kickstarter; some would rather just find a publisher. We totally get it!

For those folks, the IGA Pro membership plan has felt a little bit overkill. As the service has expanded and we’ve adjusted the price in order to cover the costs associated with providing those services, we inadvertently left some of our designer members behind. We’ve heard time and time again that “I just don’t use most of these services, and I don’t want to pay for them.” Given the margins for designers in this industry, that makes total sense. We’ve heard you.

Welcome to 2019. Say hello to IGA Lite. 

IGA Lite is a designer-focused subscription that offers only the benefits that make sense for designers: playtesting, surveys, and publisher matchmaking. Why pay for warehouse space you’ll never use or distribution that’s your publisher’s problem?

IGA Lite is a right-sized solution for you… and it’s just $10 a month.

IGA Pro membership should now be considered “for publishers” whereas IGA Lite can be thought of as “for designers only.” If you’re both a designer and a publisher, you’ll probably want to keep your IGA Pro membership, as it includes all of the IGA Lite features as well.

You can review the full service breakdown for IGA Starter, IGA Lite and IGA Pro right here:

Here’s some answers to questions we expect to get:

I already have IGA Pro, but IGA Lite is a better fit for me. What can I do?

If you visit your Studio Dashboard, you will be able to downgrade your subscription. Any fees you’ve paid will remain on your account, so effectively, it’ll triple the amount of time you’re paid up for. We cannot and will not issue refunds for paid Pro time. 

I already have IGA Pro and I’m a publisher. What’s changed for me?

Absolutely nothing. Carry on.

I haven’t decided if I want to self-publish (on Kickstarter or similar), or find a publisher. Which plan should I choose?

Feel free to start with IGA Lite. If you decide to start building a Kickstarter campaign, as soon as you make that decision, it’s time to upgrade to IGA Pro so we can help with marketing, consulting and discounts. You can switch back and forth between IGA Lite and IGA Pro any time you need to; either way, you’ll never lose money you’ve paid, your account will just be prorated one way or the other.

Does this mean I should expect a price increase for IGA Pro?

We have no plans to change the price of IGA Pro at this time.

 

Happy New Year from IGA!

Welcome to 2019, everybody! We hope 2018 was your most successful gaming year ever, and that 2019 tops it!

IGA has some really big plans and announcements coming for the new year, so stay tuned to our weekly newsletter, Facebook groups and Discord server. We are wrapping up the launch of our consolidation service and getting ready to start talking about Pharos, the most ambitious project we have ever undertaken. We are going to introduce you to some new team members and roll out some quality of life improvements for members and Minions alike.

Buckle up everybody! It’s gonna be a busy year!

– Matt and Victoria

 

IGA Pro Members Now Save 5-10% on Prototypes at Print and Play

Let’s start off our week with an exciting announcement! We’ve partnered with Print & Play Admagic to bring IGA members up to 10% off on all prototyping! Remember, Print & Play is famous for their 48-hour turnaround time on prototypes and promo cards, and now, IGA Pro members save big! Save 5% off ALL orders, no matter how large or small. Plus, if your order is over $200, save an EXTRA 5%, or 10% total!

Get all the details and reach out to the P&P team at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/partners/partner.php?uid=3143. Time to get prototyping, Team IGA!

Important Change Regarding Automatic Tabletopia Demo Reporting

Hey, everybody! Good news and bad news. The good news: I finally figured out why Tabletopia automatic reports failed sometimes, and fixed it! The bad news: everybody who wants to use automatic reporting will need to re-enter their Tabletopia player URL on your minion profile at www.indiegamealliance.com/account/minion/profile. Sorry about that.

Basically, I was under the impression that Tabletopia used your Steam username as your Tabletopia username — turns out, that’s true sometimes, but not always. That led to issues where some users where not getting their reports filed; in some cases this was causing an error because Tabletopia user URLs don’t support special characters and spaces. Fortunately, Tabletopia’s development team got me straightened out, and we should be good to go now.

I’ve decided to retain the existing Steam username field as-is, because we may need that at some point for Tabletop Simulator integration. I didn’t want to copy-paste the Steam usernames into the Tabletopia field, because some of them won’t work for the reasons described above, so I’ve left the field blank for Minions to re-populate with accurate data.

Sorry about that!

Minions: You Can Now Add Your Own Conventions to Demo Reports

Hey, Minions – good news, I *finally* got the Vagabond convention editor up and running. You can now add conventions when you create your Demo Reports, although we strongly recommend you do so ahead of time (like, as soon as you get your badges) so we can list the shows in the Upcoming Convention Appearances on the site index.

To add a convention: www.indiegamealliance.com/demos/convention. We’ve extended the usual deadline for adding demo reports to account for the fact that people have been waiting for this to be done. Sorry it took so long. As always please let me know if you encounter any issues, and thanks for your patience.

IGA Adds Consolidation Services, Putting All IGA Pro Member Games in Distribution

After years of research and months of development, all of us at IGA are proud to announce that we’ve punched a hole in the biggest wall for indie publishers: entry into distribution. There’s lots of details to follow, but the short answer is this: if you are an IGA Pro subscriber, your games are a now few clicks away from automatically being in distribution. No negotiations, no forms and waiting and meetings… just click the checkbox and it’s done.

Now, the details. Most of our members are familiar with consolidators, folks like Impressions, Hit Point and PSI. Those organizations are fantastic, and they deal with all of the major distributors. The thing is, the model they use requires purchase of a large quantity of games from you, the publishers, meaning they take on a lot of risk when they sign new clients and are hesitant to do so for smaller publishers unless you produce a mega-hit. Fortunately, the IGA stock model already works around that problem, so it was just a matter of finding distributors who would work with that model.

Enter Golden Distribution. Golden will be accepting a customized file format we’re generating for them, and every single item we list in that file will be available on their website to all Golden customer retailers. When a retailer purchases an IGA member game, Golden tells us, and we ship it out to them, and you get paid! We’re paying 33% of MSRP to publishers for games and selling at not much higher to distributors; our margin will mostly be used to cover the free shipping the distributors expect to receive.

We’re also signed as a supplier with Snakes and Lattes in Canada, though they will be taking a more pick-and-choose approach for the games they carry. We’re in discussions with several other distributors, which we hope to make progress on here at Gen Con, and will announce more about those negotiations as things get firmed up.

Additionally, we’re relaunching our retailer store, allowing retailers to purchase from our website directly. Retailers can sign up on our site and, once approved, purchase games at 50% off with free shipping for orders over $200.

We’ll also be announcing some plans in the coming weeks for how we’re going to use our 650-member-strong Minion team to convert their existing in-store demos into sales opportunities to help drive retail orders of your games.

Our first file dump to Golden, Snakes and Lattes and our other distribution partners will be made in September. This gives me time to round out convention season with Gen Con and finishing the processing from all of our summer shows, as I still have processing to do from Origins and Gen Con because this has been getting all my attention. It also lets me finalize and test the integration (the requirements of which change every time a new distributor signs on) and most importantly, gives you time to get your games set up and ready.

What do I do to get started?

Glad you asked.

First off, you’ll need to be an IGA Pro member. There’s no additional charge to be part of our consolidation offering — just the usual IGA Pro membership!

Second, we’ve got to have stock of your games. We’ve updated our Stock and Sales policies to address a few things that are going to be difficult for us to manage otherwise, but it shouldn’t impact most folks. Still, you should probably take a moment and refresh yourself on them if you haven’t sent us stock in a while. We’ll use this same pool of stock for distributor sales, convention sales, and supplying Minions, just like always. If you’ve already sent us stock, it might be a good time to check your stock levels and see if we have enough, or if we have your latest and greatest stuff.

Third, you’ll need to make sure we have all the correct details on your game. We’ll do our best to do data entry on the stuff we already have in stock, but not all of the items are easily ascertained, so your help would be appreciated even if we already have your items in stock. You can edit or create store items through the newly-updated Stock Item Editor on your Studio Dashboard. If you need help navigating the site changes, you can visit our new guidebook page on doing just that, which should help.

In particular, pay attention to the UPC/EAN (barcode) field and the SKU field. We strongly recommend that all of our publishers obtain a SMC (company code and SKU prefix) from the Hobby Manufacturers Association, which disambiguates SKUs from different manufacturers. However, if you don’t want to spend the $25, we’ve got you covered. IGA has registered its own SMC code, IGA, which you can use simply by clicking the Generate SKU link.

Also, some of the images for items that we pulled from Board Game Geek are a little blurry or not ideal for sales purposes. If you see a blurry, outdated or otherwise not-great image for your game, please upload a new one — remember, this is the face you’re going to show retailers interested in buying your game!

Lastly, you’ll need to activate the new permission, “IGA may sell stock at its negotiated price to distributors,” which you can do from that same page. This permission defaults to OFF, so it will require this step for all items.

While we were under the hood, we did some other stuff too.

We’ve also added the ability to set a Convention Sale Price separate from MSRP, for folks that are asking us to sell games at lower prices than MSRP at cons. Note that you’ll be paid off of this price if you change it, not off of MSRP. Also note that we may not be able to activate changes you make in time for Gen Con at this point, but they’ll be active for BoardGameGeek.con (have you bought your demo time yet?) at worst.

We also added the ability to request that we carry your games at conventions even if you’ll be exhibiting too. We generally recommend that you not turn this on, but if you want to, it’s now there. Look for it in the stock permissions section.

Have questions? Is it one of these?

Does IGA require exclusivity like other consolidators do?

Not at all. You can continue to sell on your own. However, we ask that if you already work with a consolidator, that you check your contract before activating the permission on IGA’s site. We will never knowingly violate an exclusivity arrangement you have with another consolidator, but it’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t do so. IGA is not responsible for contractual disputes that result from your violating any contracts you might have with other vendors.

Will IGA sell to (your favorite distributor)?

Yes, as soon as we can get set up. Each distributor has their own onboarding process, and we are still navigating them for some of the larger ones. I hope to talk to representatives from several of the larger distributors at Gen Con to try to ease that process, and we’re looking into getting a booth at the GAMA show in February to focus in-depth on building those relationships. We’ll also be talking about our new consolidation service at Gen Con’s Trade Day on Wednesday.

How much stock should I send?

For now, keep it to the same guidelines we had before — one cubic meter (roughly a pallet bay) in our warehouse. Please send games in master cartons unless they’re tuckboxes — some distributors require this and it may disqualify you from selling to them if you don’t do this. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot easier for us to maintain the warehouse this way.

We just doubled the size of our warehouse for the third time in April, and we’re expecting to have to expand again before the end of the year. As always, when we have more details about any potential expansion or move, you’ll be the first to know.

*Still* have questions? Well, okay.

Feel free to ask questions via email at support@indiegamealliance.com or on our social media platforms. I do ask you to remember, we are working Gen Con this week, so please be patient if it takes a few hours to reply to your inquiry. We also respectfully request that you read the full distribution guide on our website before asking your question, in order to allow us to focus as much of our time this week as possible on crushing Gen Con for the benefit of all our members.

 

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!