Category Archives: Website

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!

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.

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.

IGA’s Newest Integrations: The Game Crafter & IndieGoGo

We’re pleased to announce new integration points with two of the powerhouses of the indie game publishing world: IndieGoGo and The Game Crafter!

IGA’s support of IndieGoGo means that members using IGG as their crowdfunding platform of choice can now count on the same reliable backer/status updates, campaign shares, and all the other features Kickstarter users have come to love. In the past, we did the best we could to manually emulate what our automated processes do, but our new API access and integration means IndieGoGo campaigns are first-class citizens on the Indie Game Alliance website.

Our Game Crafter implementation is small for now, but will be expanding over time. You can now import game details from TGC just as you would from BoardGameGeek, using the Studio Game Catalog found at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/studio/games.  Simply paste in your game’s URL and click Load Data.

 

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.

Rerranging the Furniture…

As you may have noticed, we’ve reorganized the site a fair amount in the last few weeks. Most of the pages and menus look just as they did, but many of the page addresses (URLs) have changed. We’ve been doing this in stages to try and minimize any potential fallout from moving all the pages around at once. So far, we’ve seen extremely minimal ramifications, as we’re being very careful and deliberate in what we’re doing. Of course, if you see anything that isn’t working quite right, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Breaking the site up into modules as we have will make for more readable links and make life for our web development team much easier going forward. We’ve also been using this time to clean up and update older, legacy code, so everything should be running just a little bit faster and better. We know this isn’t terribly exciting for our members compared to new features (trust me, those are coming) but our code team is positively giddy to have this work done, and everything we do from now on will get done faster, easier and better as a result of these changes. Of course, website work will likely be on the back burner a little bit through the summer due to convention season.

Wherever possible, we’ve added redirects from the old page addresses to the new. We’ll leave these up for a month or two, until we see people stop hitting them. We strongly encourage you to update any bookmarks / favorites you may have in your browser, and check any links you may have added to your Web site, Facebook profile, or other digital platform. If you’ve printed any changed URL in any game material, contact us about leaving a permanent redirect in place so the links don’t break.

Thank you for your patience as we make this change. There’s no great time for upheaval and reorganization, but it’s almost always better once you get through it. Thank you also to those Minions who have been helping us test the changes and identifying problems.

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.