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. ūüėČ

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? ūüėČ 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!

 

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.

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 Рalthough 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.