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!

 

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.

 

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!

On the road to Origins Game Fair!

Greetings!

By the time this newsletter is emailed, we’ll be somewhere in southern Georgia en route to Origins Game Fair. Come see us this Thursday through Sunday at booth #151! If you’d like to make an appointment to spend some time with us for an interview or other discussion, come on by the booth and we’ll set something up. Presently, Thursday is looking like our busiest day of the show.

While we’re at the show, we’ll likely have limited access to email, social media, and other means of contact. While we will do our best to clear our emails and other messages nightly in the hotel, this may not be possible, and we appreciate your patience if we cannot get back to you until we return from the show.

A reminder to Minions – the IGA warehouse is closed until we return from the show. You may place orders in the store, but they won’t ship until we return. Members — if we’ve got stock to sell of your games, keep an eye on your emails; with our new store software, you’ll get an email in real time when one of your games finds a new home with an excited gamer!

Didn’t get your demos booked in time? Don’t wait — Dice Tower convention is in three short weeks, and Gen Con is coming up too! Book now on your Studio Dashboard before we sell out!

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.

Members: Link your Kickstarter Profile to Your IGA Account

Hey there! We’ve added a quick new feature that will help us out a lot in promoting our members’ Kickstarter campaigns: you can now link your Kickstarter profile to your IGA account. You can find the field to do this on your Studio Profile page at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/studio/profile.php.

Your Kickstarter profile link should look like https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/your_profile_name. To find it, log into Kickstarter, click your avatar in the upper right hand corner to open your account menu, and select Profile to visit your public profile. 

Just cut and  paste the link from your browser’s address bar into the field on your IGA Studio Profile, click Save, and you’re all set!

IGA will use this information to proactively start sharing and supporting your current and future Kickstarter campaigns without the need for you to let us know before launch. It’s one more thing off your plate during the busy pre-launch period, and it makes sure that IGA can get to work promoting your project on day one, every time.

 

 

 

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.

 

IGA is going to Origins Game Fair!

We’re thrilled to announce that after three years on the waiting list, IGA has just acquired a booth at Origins Game Fair this year! Miracles happen after all! The show’s in just seven weeks, so there’s a ton to do to prepare and not much time to book your demos and get us sales stock!

Because this is such a short notice booking, we’re going to shorten the IGA Pro exclusivity window to two weeks for this show, after which point it will become available to all members.

In celebration of this new opportunity, and to replenish our coffers from this surprise expense so we can get hotels and rent a truck for stock transport, IGA has not only reduced the pricing on demos for Origins, but put demos for Gen Con and Dice Tower Con on sale as well! Demo time has been reduced by $20 on off-peak days and $25 on peak days. They will certainly go fast at this pricing, though, so get yours now!