Category Archives: Features

New features and services available to IGA Members

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.

 

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.

Announcing Minion Certifications!

We’re stoked to announce an often-requested new feature for member publishers: certification programs! IGA Pro members can now link a rulebook and/or a how-to-play video to any game in their Game Catalog and create a custom certification exam for it.

The exam editor interface is very similar to our easy-to-use survey module, so it should feel immediately familiar to IGA Pro members.

You can specify whether a certification is optional or required for demos – although we strongly recommend that members not set certification as mandatory except in situations where there are frequently tournaments with high-value prizes. This is, however, a simple and intuitive way for you to communicate the basics of gameplay to Minions, and for Minions to show off their expertise. Our Minions already do a fantastic job of quickly picking up and mastering game rules!

Minions can complete the courses online in their own time – there’s no need to schedule a session with a trainer. Simply watch a video – in most cases, the same how-to-play video from the Kickstarter campaign – and answer a few simple questions.

You’ll get a cool little certificate you can print out, and the publisher will get an email letting them know someone else has mastered their game. Your certifications will appear on your public Minion profile — and there might even be some new achievements associated with certifications.

IGA’s Store is Live!

After literally years of design and development, IGA’s game store is finally live!

We’ll be using this store to supply our Minions with games and swag for their demos, as well as to launch a new micro-distribution service to help get member games into friendly local game stores around the world. The new software also delivers an incredible amount of transparency to our process; members can now see what we have and where it’s going in pretty much real-time.

We notified the Minions of the store’s launch on April 8, and we’ve already processed more than 25 orders. Minions, if you haven’t gotten out to run some demos in a while, now would be a fantastic time to do so!

Members, we’re sure you have questions. No worries! We’ve put together an interactive guide to help you get a handle on everything having to do with our new store software, stock policies, and the tools available at your disposal. We strongly recommend that all member publishers check this out, especially if we already have stock on hand from you.

Please direct any questions or concerns to our warehouse team at warehouse@indiegamealliance.com. Thank you so much to Victoria, Sherri, Jason, and all the other Minions who helped out with testing and development.

 

Welcome to the all-new IGA!

Greetings! I’m writing this first post as part of the lead-up to the launch of our new website. This site’s taken far longer than I wanted it to, for a variety of reasons that really don’t matter anymore, but with it, we can finally roll out a bunch of things we’ve been promising and hinting at for months.

We’re so very excited to relaunch the site, and with it, the Alliance at large. We’ve taken everything we’ve learned about the tabletop community and our place in it, and poured it into an all-new Alliance offering. We’re pleased to say that the “IGA 2.0” we launch today blows away everything we’ve done in the past, which was already the best set of services available to game publishers in the world.

Here’s a look at a few of the enhancements on the new site, before we get to the really good stuff.


Integration with BoardGameGeek.com

If you’re one of the handful of studios who filled out the Game Library form on the original website, you know it wasn’t exactly user-friendly. The most frequently-requested feature for a new website, a supported game list, wasn’t feasible to provide because the Game Library was so unwieldy and so infrequently used. Not anymore. Members can input their BoardGameGeek.com publisher ID – which we’ve already done for all current members – and import their entire game collection in seconds.

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Our automated systems will then monitor your BGG profile and automatically add new games into our library within 6 hours of when they first appear on BGG.

Of course, you can edit the games once they’re imported using our completely redesigned game editor tool.

studiogamecatalog

Oh, and that IGA-supported game list? It’s a reality now too.

gamecatalog

If you’re a Minion (or potential Minion), you can simply enter your BoardGameGeek.com username…

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… and we’ll scan your collection and list all the IGA-supported games you already own and can start demoing right away.

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Live Kickstarter Tracking

The new site integrates with Kickstarter directly, and shows the progress of every active IGA member Kickstarter campaign, updated every 15 minutes and available right on the front page.

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It also provides us admins with an awesome back-end tool we can use to easily share campaigns on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, to make us even more effective than ever before at spreading the word.


Better Support for Hybrids

When we launched the Alliance in April 2014, we never expected the number of “hybrids” we’d meet — folks who wanted to be both designers and Minions, or Minions and retailers, or some other combinations thereof. Our user accounts weren’t structured to allow it. With IGA 2.0, an account can have as many Community Roles as you need, so our double-, triple-, and even quadruple-threat members can use the site seamlessly with a single account.

roles


Upcoming Appearances

We’ve added a chronological preview of all the events our teams are scheduled to attend, and the services IGA will be offering at the show. This will make it easier than ever before to make your presence felt at conventions worldwide — even when you can’t be there.

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Achievements

Our members and Minions can now earn achievements for their feats of gaming excellence.

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Actual, Real-Live Company Stuff!

IGA’s new website adds a bunch of “grown up company” stuff that the previous iteration lacked, like a media guide and logo pack, testimonials section, a news area with real-live press releases, and even a jobs page.

mediakit


This Blog

Prior to the launch of the new site, most IGA information was disseminated over our private Facebook groups. We’ve discovered that more than half our members never joined the groups, and thus never got wind of amazing opportunities and vital details that would have enabled them to get much more benefit out of their Alliance membership. This blog will be the source for the up-to-the-minute pulse of the Alliance. We’ll syndicate the posts to our social media channels, so if you’re used to talking to us there, don’t worry — you won’t miss out!


Improved Hosting

We’ve moved all our sites and services from a craptasmic shared hosting plan to a swank virtual private server provided by the network gods at HostDime. While this might not sound terribly exciting, it has more than tripled the speed of page loads and provided a much more reliable platform for everything we do. As an added bonus, the server’s in a data center 15 minutes from IGA HQ. We seriously can’t recommend HostDime enough.

… and that’s just the relatively boring stuff.

Now’s where things really get good. Introducing: the future of the Indie Game Alliance.


Real-Time Demo Reporting

Our Minions can now file demo reports from the field on any smartphone or tablet. The average demo report takes about 30 seconds to file, including photos of the event — and the whole thing gets emailed to you in real time! No more wondering where your games are being played; you can follow along with the action at conventions around the country and the globe.

Minions will be awarded their Loot Points instantly, and can spend them within minutes.

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Partner Discounts

One of the original concepts behind the IGA was to allow smaller publishers to get the same economies of scale that bigger companies do on everything from manufacturing to business cards. We’re pleased to say that’s now a reality.

partners

IGA’s partner program offers significant discounts from industry-leading  manufacturers, business printers, professional memberships, accessory manufacturing, and even legal services, just for being an active IGA member. Details on all the discount programs are available in one central place on the new site, allowing you to quickly and easily see where your IGA membership saves you money!


Freelancer Board

Looking for an artist, a graphics designer, a translator, or a rulebook editor for your project? IGA’s new Freelancer Board allows professionals to post their portfolio for our members to browse.

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If you’re a publisher who has hired the freelancer before, you can leave feedback for others to view. This feedback system will help members pick the right professional to help finish your project, every time.

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Game Store

At long last, the IGA Game Store is live. The store is how Minions will redeem their Loot Points to score new games to add to their demo library.

… but that’s not all it’s for!

store

Retail Wholesaling

IGA is proud to announce that we’re rolling out our long-awaited consignment wholesaling program. Now, the same Minions that demo your games in their friendly local game stores will become your field sales reps, encouraging the stores they visit to carry copies of your games to sell to all the new fans their demos create. You receive a generous 40% of MSRP on every copy sold — better than most distributors pay! There’s no minimum quantity to get started. We handle the shipping and fulfillment on our end. You provide us some stock, we handle the rest, and you just wait for the money to roll in!


Surveys and Email Lists

When Minions demo for you at stores and conventions, they can now bring along a QR code, printed off the website. When the code is scanned, the player will be taken to a fully-customizable survey, designed to be completed on mobile devices, which takes into account expansions being played and playtested.

survey1

The average survey is 5-10 questions, and can be completed in about 90 seconds, which is about as long as it takes for a Minion to switch games. This keeps players at the table between games, allowing the Minion to get off more and more demos.

survey2

To encourage Minions to ask for the surveys, and players to complete them, IGA will randomly choose one survey a month, and both the player who completed the survey and the Minion who collected it will receive a free game!

Of course, for the player to receive the game, we’ll need a way to contact them…

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As players complete surveys, they can sign up to receive news about all IGA games, just your games, or just the game they played. Members can gain access to this ever-growing database of players to send out Kickstarter announcements, promote organized play, and any number of other exciting opportunities. We even prompt the players to sign up to join our Minion program, potentially adding new volunteers — and best of all, they just finished learning your game!

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You can use our default survey, or customize your own for each game in your catalog! This is a powerful tool for designers utilizing our Minion team for playtesting, as you get the feedback you need, instantly, on the questions you need answered most!

To get started, simply drag and drop survey questions from your question pool into a new survey.editsurvey2

Adding new questions is easy, with powerful customization options like free-form entry or multiple choice questions, requiring no answers or more than one, and including an ‘Other’ option that requires user input.

editsurvey3

When your new survey is ready, you can attach it to any game in your Game Catalog with a single click. You can even assign sub-surveys to expansions, and the player will be prompted to complete the survey for the base game in addition to the sub-surveys for all the expansions she indicated she played in the demo.


Publisher Marketplace

In your member game catalog, you can now turn on a simple checkbox to indicate your game is available for publication. Member publishers can visit our Publisher Marketplace and browse any IGA-supported games that are available, read up on the games, and contact the designer. The designer’s contact information is kept completely anonymous unless he or she decides to respond.

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Account Executives

IGA is in the process of hiring Account Executives to work with our member studios. As our client list has grown, it’s become impossible for our small but dedicated admin team to give each member the kind of personal attention we feel that they deserve. To rectify this, we’re expanding our team.

Account Executives will be responsible for no more than 25 or so member studios, and will be in touch with them at least once a month to make sure our members know about the latest IGA news and opportunities, and to make sure IGA knows about the new games you have in the works.  These will be paid (commission-only for now) positions and are great part-time opportunities for folks looking to make some side cash or build their gaming resume. Get all the details about applying right here.


I’d like to take a moment to publicly acknowledge some people who helped us make this relaunch possible over the last few months.

Thank you to every minion and member designer that took time to test the site, check out screenshots and offer feedback. You are too numerous to name, but we appreciate all that you did and all that you do. Special thanks to our seven Minibosses: Dylan Martin, Jason Gough, Sherri Haight, Jayson Stevens, Michael Russell, Billy Salazar, and Billy McCann, who also has done a substantial amount of graphics work for IGA.

Thanks to minions Forrest Evans, Victoria Hardman, and Cheryl Billinger for hours of grueling data entry work, and also to Forrest for helping us get the BoardGameGeek integration working. Thanks to Ken Grazier for repeatedly breaking our BoardGameGeek integration with his obnoxiously huge game collection. Thanks to Paul Nguyen for pulling a rabbit out of his hat and getting our store up and running at the last minute. Thank you, Daylina Miller, for your help getting our social media profiles expanded and for giving our new media kit a journalist’s eye.

Thank you to studio members Adrienne Ezell of Dreadful Games, who has become our go-to source for graphics wizardry, and Jason Washburn of Talon Strikes Studios for designing our swank new business cards (and overnighting a few thousand of them to Gen Con for us). Thank you to Shea Looijen and Kristi Uhles of Bibelot Games, who not only took it upon themselves to redesign our logo, but then proceeded to burninate it onto everything they could get their hands on with a frickin’ laser. Thanks to designer Doug Levandowski for the obscene amount of phone calls he took that started with the same sentence, “Let me run something by you real quick.” It rarely was real quick, but it was always real productive.