Category Archives: Origins

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!

Origins Game Fair After-Action Report

Greetings! We just closed the book on our first Origins experience — and what an experience it was! We’ll be talking more about some of the specifics, and posting pictures, in the coming days, but we wanted to get something out in the Monday newsletter about the results of the show.

We’re presently in our hotel in Columbus waiting on the monsoon to die down before we begin the trek back. We’ll be driving back to Florida all day Monday, and most of Tuesday will be spent processing Origins financials, getting the stock re-situated in the warehouse, and catching our breath, so the warehouse and customer support will remain closed until Wednesday, June 21.  

Minions will be glad to know we’ve got some new games and expansions in the truck, which will be in the inventory when we get home. Fans of Brotherwise Games, Shoot Again Games, Breaking Games, Cohio Games, Noble Quest, and Leder Games should get their Loot Points ready!

We’d like to welcome a few new members that joined us at the show: Purple Potato Games, Flatworks Games, and Noble Quests. Noble Quests dropped off a few copies of their RPG, Mystic Forces. Flatworks and Purple Potato both have Kickstarters in progress now — Dwarven Smithy and Burst My Bubble, respectively. Links are in the newsletter and on indiegamealliance.com; check them both out! We also recruited a few new Minions at the show; welcome to you as well!

Victoria and I would like to extend an extremely warm thanks to Jason Gough, Nathan Knight and Mark Miller, who made ridiculously long drives of their own on very short notice to help us staff our Origins presence. You guys are all-stars! Thanks also to all the Minions and members who dropped by the booth to say hello – there’s too many to list you all, but we enjoyed meeting, or reuniting, with you all!

We had a few very productive conversations with some of our existing partners, the fruits of which I hope to be able to announce soon. We also had four or five very good conversations with potential new partners, and will be following up with them after the show to put the final touches on new discounts and benefits we’ll be able to offer our members in short order. We also chatted with several convention representatives that invited IGA to exhibit at their upcoming shows, which we’re excited about as well.

We didn’t intend to run a game library at Origins, so we brought only open copies of what we had to sell so that we could show potential buyers the components. However, our 10×10 booth was pretty cramped, so we had nowhere to store those games. We ended up having more Minion support at the show than we anticipated on short notice, so we ended up using the games and the extra team members to run an impromptu game library in the main gaming hall. Our team will be submitting demo reports and photos of these efforts when they get settled back in at home, probably no later than Thursday or so.

Sales were, generally speaking, quite weak at this show. We did very little business Thursday and Friday (which we heard was nearly universal) but picked up steam a bit on Saturday and Sunday. We’ve got about $1900 in payouts going out to a variety of members as soon as the credit card payments get deposited into our account from Square. If you received a real-time sales notification, we owe you money! Please take a moment and review your payment information on file — we’re missing it for about half the members who had games sell. Without this information, we cannot pay you! We’ve had a request to offer a “daily digest” mode for the sales notifications, and I’ll see if I can get that done on the site before Dice Tower.

We are pleased to report that IGA is already booked for Origins 2018 with at least another 10×10 booth, if not more. Hopefully knowing a year in advance will translate to a stronger presence, and a better bottom line for IGA.

That’s the good news. The bad news: while we haven’t done the final numbers yet, it’s looking like IGA took a beating financially by attending Origins this year. This is in part due to the short notice of the show, and as a result, very few in-booth demo sales. We’re planning on posting a more detailed breakdown of this in a few days when all the numbers are done. Members can, of course, help us out by purchasing demo time in our dedicated IGA demo and sales room at Dice Tower Convention in three short weeks and Gen Con in August. We’re still looking for volunteers for both shows as well.

That’s a wrap on Origins until we get home and get everything processed. See you next year, Columbus!