All posts by Matt Holden

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!

Gen Con Report: Day 1

Greetings from a very long and successful day at Gen Con! It’s 3AM here and we’re wiped out, so this one’s going to be short and picture-light.

We had a few fantastic demos, including Get Adler, Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools, Superbeings Jumbo Card Game, Filibuster, Clockwork Renaissance and others, which looked fantastic on the Table of Ultimate Gaming from Wood Robot. (See yesterday’s post for a chance to win one!)

Sales were pretty brisk today, mostly folks looking for stuff that is a new release at the show. I will say that nearly 70% of our non-new-release sales were from members who have taken the time to promote on their social media that our booth has their games. Hint, hint. Our booth number is #361.

We got to meet a number of our members and Minions face-to-face for the first time, which is always exciting for us, and also welcomed three new members and one new Minion to the Alliance. We even let one new member click the Approve Application button himself. 😉

We met with reps from IndieGoGo about ways to improve the IGG platform for gaming projects, and with a few printers about potential discount partnerships (we’ll decline to name who until they sign up.) One sad note: LongPack informed us that they can no longer offer the reduced minimum order quantity of 500 as part of their IGA promotion.  It was fun while it lasted.

The highlight of the day for us was the Designer/Publisher Speed Dating event, which we’re co-hosting with James Mathe of Minion Games fame this year. We had fifteen designers on hand and at least that many publishers, and there were solid pitches all around. We wish all the designers – IGA members and otherwise – luck in their publishing endeavors! We took a ton of pictures, which are on a phone that is at least as tired as I am, so we’ll post them tomorrow.

We’re excited that, for the first time in IGA history, all three of our primary convention leads – myself, Jason Gough and Billy Salazar – were in the same room together. Between the three of us, Victoria, and the rest of the crew, we’ve got most of the core IGA staff on hand. Some fantastic brainstorming is going to come out of this!

Pictures tomorrow. Bed now.

Gen Con Report: Day 0

Holy cow, are we tired!

We drove up from Florida on Monday and Tuesday, with a layover Monday night to visit some of Victoria’s family in northern Georgia. Victoria and I used the drive to put together some exciting plans for Year 4 of IGA — we officially launched at Gen Con 2014, so our “calendar year” ends with Gen Con — that we’ll be sharing with you after the show.

Arriving at about 7:30PM Tuesday night, we had about 30 minutes for the two of us to unload a very, very full cargo van:

We didn’t have any time to work on setup Tuesday, so we left the convention center for some desperately-needed sleep.

Today, we arrived bright and early, picked up our badges, and went to work on that surprise we told you about on Facebook.

As a reminder, this was our booth setup at Origins in June:

This is our setup at Gen Con booth #361:

Notice anything different? 😉 We’ve redone our entire fixture set! The backdrop is four 5′ metal shelving units for storing backstock, demo games, tools and empty boxes, covered with eight banners to create a 20′ backdrop! (VistaPrint unfortunately misprinted a few of them; we made it work for this show but we’ll replace the wonky banners after the show.) You’ll also note the updated presentation of the logo, which has also made its way onto most of our branding by now.

Gone are the old plastic shelves (well, not gone, they make up the counter now, behind the black tablecloths, but they’re hidden). We’ve added two pegboard spinner displays for tuckboxes and other small-box items, freeing up enough counter space to display games without resorting to floor-level shelving. We also added black rubber flooring to the booth, a feature that our Minions’ feet certainly appreciate!

Also, check out the gaming table! It’s a prototype on loan from the Table of Ultimate Gaming folks. Their Kickstarter for the tables launches August 24. You can enter to win a table, and IGA Minions get 10% off a table during the Kickstarter! We’ll likely be adding a swank table like this to our booth setup for all future shows, though.

As part of the effort, we distributed more than 60 “Proud IGA Member” table tents to all IGA members and partners exhibiting at the show. We have a handful of them left, so if you’re a member walking around the con, come pick one up!

We even redid our business cards for year 4:

We’ve also morphed our “guess the number of dice in the blender” contest to collect email addresses, to increase the number of subscribers we can send Kickstarter notifications and newsletters to.

We’d like to give a big shout-out to Andrew Smith from Gold Seal Games, who has spent countless hours working with Victoria and I to hammer out the finer details of the new booth design — and the next upgrades we have planned after this round!

What do you think? Sound off on the new design over at the IGA Developers’ Lounge or the IGA League of Minions!

Trade Day

We had an opportunity to participate in the demo period for Gen Con Trade Day this year, our first time doing so. We didn’t really know what to expect. Attendance was a little low, possibly because they gave us a slot during the dinner hours, but we had some very productive meetings with a few distributors, retailers and educators about ways that IGA and its members can more closely work with those groups. We ran a few demos in the room to interested retailers, and made a few connections and pitches that we hope will pan out. I think we could have done it bigger and better, and now with the experience under our belts, we’ll do an even better Trade Day appearance in 2018.

On Tap for Tomorrow

Day 1 of the show! We’re excited to debut new titles from several of our members. Publishers attending the show, don’t forget to come see us at the Publisher Speed Dating event, and see if you find your next big hit!

 

Newsletters Moving to Wednesdays

Just a quick word here – we’re moving the newsletters to Wednesday mornings instead of Mondays. Sorry for sending two this week; that won’t happen going forward.

Our reasoning for this has to do with supporting member Kickstarters. Statistically, most Kickstarter campaigns for tabletop games launch on a Tuesday; indeed, we had six member campaigns launch yesterday. For any campaign that launches on a Tuesday and runs for 30 days (the default Kickstarter campaign length), it will end on a Thursday. Therefore, having the newsletter run on Wednesday will allow our members’ Kickstarters to be shared with our audience during both the campaign’s first 48 hours and its last 48 hours, both of which are critical windows. As it stands now, with a Monday newsletter and a Tuesday launch, we don’t get the word out until day 6 of the campaign, when the mid-campaign lull is already beginning.

Again, we apologize for the double newsletter this week, but we’re confident that this change will be worth the minor inconvenience. Thank you all for your patience, and good luck to all of our members whose campaigns are presently live!

IGA Policy Update: Store Refresh Periods

Greetings, members and Minions. We wanted to let you know about a change we’ve made to the way our IGA Reward Store gets new items, based on feedback we’ve had from Minions.

As member publishers sometimes give us very limited quantities of games, it can be something of a race for Minions to hit the store with a pile of Loot Points when a new game is made available. This limits options for Minions who aren’t online every day, and also leads to a sense of buyer’s remorse when a Minion clears out their Loot Points on a game, and the next day a game they wanted more appears on the store and sells out immediately.

To help alleviate this, we’re moving to a store refresh schedule, similar to what BoardGameGeek does on its promo store. We’ll be adding the new items to the store all at once, on the 5th of every month, so Minions can plan to browse the store then to see all the new stuff that’s come in for the previous month and make their selections.

Members will still be able to see the items in their My Inventory Items dashboard, so inventory control and transparency is not compromised in any way as a result of this change.

Please direct any questions to Victoria Hardman, who runs our store, at warehouse@indiegamealliance.com. Thank you.

Push Your Game to the Forefront with New IGA Boosts

Introducing a new feature to help your games get to the front of the pack: IGA Boosts! Boosts are a great way to help promote a game even harder during peak periods, such as a Kickstarter launch, new expansion release, or during a PR blitz following an award win.

For a nominal fee, members can double the Loot Points earned by IGA Minions when they demo your game for a 30-day period beginning with a date you choose. Minions will receive emailed notifications in the IGA weekly newsletter of current and upcoming Boosts, and may also view current and upcoming Boosts on our website.

For more details about the process or to schedule a Boost, click the Schedule a Boost button at the top of any game profile in your Studio Game Catalog(note: You may only Boost a standalone game, not an expansion — to promote an expansion, Boost the base game instead.) 

Minions, you don’t have to do anything extra to claim your Boosted Loot Points – just file a demo report for the Boosted game during the Boost period.

Dice Tower Con 2017: After-Action Report

First off, my apologies for the tardiness of this report. We were leveled with con crud upon returning from the show (the curse of the demo rep!) and between that, resetting from Dice Tower (and Origins, which we never fully got to recoup from before setting off for Dice Tower) and preparing for Gen Con, it’s been a zoo here!

IGA had its own room at DTC, in “Antigua 1”. The setup was ideal; we could sell, demo, and playtest all in one room, set the hours, and secure the room when we left for the night. That was awesome. The location… Less so. Our room was down a hall with no other exhibitors or attractions, so our foot traffic was pretty abysmal. If not for a sticker program DTC did (think the Cheese Weasel exhibitor scavenger hunt at Gen Con, but with stickers) I don’t know if we’d have seen 200 people in the room all five days. We did the best we could to haul in people from the hallway with banners and Minions, and the con staff tried to help us with call outs in the main gaming hall, but there’s only so much you can do to combat that.

Sales were slow at this show again — this was reported pretty universally among exhibitors. Cool Stuff has a massive ding and dent sale at Dice Tower and restocks it every two hours — the lines for it are usually out the door. The combination of Cool Stuff and a flea market that ran all morning Saturday seemed to vacuum up all the money at the con. I do not know if it will be financially viable for IGA to do a vendor presence at DTC next year if this structure continues, which I see no reason to indicate that it won’t.

Because slow sales mean leftover stock, several of our members (old and new) left us stock at the end of the show. Minions and retailers should definitely check out the IGA Store, as you’ll find a ton of new goodies from Tortured Earth, NSKN, Formal Ferret, Attack Dice, and others to choose from.

We did manage to do some pretty good demos and playtests throughout the week. We ran a ton of Roll Player (which won Indie Publisher Game of the Year from Dice Tower – congratulations!) and other favorites. At this point, I believe all demo reports from the show have been filed.

We had our first-ever dedicated Prototype Day on Thursday, featuring demos of Sparkle*Kitty and Rise of Tribes from Breaking Games, Superbeings from Alienplay Games, Objective: Vietnam from Recon Games, Maximum Apocalypse from Rock Manor Games,  Clockwork Renaissance from Blue Fool Games, and others. We pitched a few games to interested publishers — the publishers should have already been in contact with the designers of the affected games. Not every game got picked up, but we’ll keep trying!

We did recruit a few new members at the show, including new Pro members Gigamic and NSKN / Strawberry Studios. Welcome to the team, everybody! We’re now over 650 members, which is a huge achievement for us before our “official” 3-year anniversary. Even more impressive, we’ve now crossed 150 IGA Pro members! That’s fantastic news for us, because more Pro subscriptions means more cons we can attend, more features we can add, and more work we can do on your behalf. The bad news, however, is that our Pro members still account for only 26% of our total members. For the same reasons we mentioned above, if you’re still on the IGA Starter plan, we strongly encourage you to go Pro and help support our continued growth. If you haven’t looked at the list of Pro membership benefits in a while, do yourself a favor and check again — it’s more than doubled in the last year.

While we’re on the subject of recruiting, we’d also like to welcome the twelve new Minions that joined us at Dice Tower Con, and to congratulate Minion Aaron S. on his first IGA convention action. Aaron did a fantastic job helping us out Saturday and Sunday, and made his on-camera debut with an impromptu video demo of Superbeings Jumbo Card Game. Victoria and I would also like to thank Nathan, Andrew S., Andrew B. and Danny for your assistance as always. We couldn’t do what we do without you.

Remember, gang, we’re now less than 4 weeks away from Gen Con 50. Now is your final chance to book Gen Con demos in our booth or the event hall or send us stock to sell for you. We’re working on some cool new booth upgrades for Gen Con which we think are going to look great if we can get them done in time. Members wishing to book an appointment with Matt and Victoria at the show may do so at http://igamatt.youcanbook.me. We’ll be in booth 361 – a huge upgrade from our previous spots – in a 20×10 booth. Spread the word!