Category Archives: Gen Con

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!

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!