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Subject: Wargames: Carving into a Niche Market rss

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Byron Collins
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This post was originally going to be a reply to this thread:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/349184

But as it was more or less off topic, I decided to break it out into its own thread with some additional personal thoughts and personal experience as a designer and self-publisher.

Zogthedoomed made some good points in his post in the other thread, including his comment on what recently happened in the Computer gaming world when quantity vs. quality was pushed above all else:


zogthedoomed wrote:
...a return to the old days of smaller development teams selling direct to the public.


This, to me, is the key to maintaining quality in any industry, and my philosophy-- which I'm sure I share with others-- quality over quantity. And wargamers, above any other gaming group, appreciate expect it. I've worked on one game --ONE GAME-- for 8 years. I have no desire to release products that are no good- just to gain impulse buys and be profitable. It's for the passion of the hobby that I do this- and I imagine other designers / publishers can relate.

The only problem with this mentality (self-publishing and direct selling) is a lack of exposure and the potential for failure- as a business. Wargaming is already a niche market. Shelf space in stores that sell wargames is limited- because demand for these games is limited. Distributors want 60% off retail and free shipping to their warehouses. Most retailers expect 40% off retail if they buy direct from a publisher. So how does a small guy like me compete?

Have you seen my first production game in any store? No. Because it's not there. My costs were too high to support distributor's terms. I could have chosen to reduce the components in my first game, reduce the production quality, have it made in China, and make other cuts across the board to make the game more affordable and meet distributor's terms-- but-- I chose not to. I chose to direct sell a game made entirely in the USA, self-publish it, and self-market.

Did I make the wrong choice? The wargaming community will determine that. I'm active on here, on Theminiaturespage, on Wargamer.com, Consimworld, and the game's even on Grognard.com. I advertise on all of these sites- even with the expense of BGG ads. The key for small companies like mine is conventions. I was at Gen Con. I'll be at Fall In next month, and next year, Williamsburg Muster (a new con) and possibly Historicon. People who see my game in action and run through a demo are impressed- and sometimes receiving compliments and seeing people learn and enjoy the game in person is enough.

Success? Time will tell. But I can assure you- there is no 'marketing man' telling me what to design or publish. I assure you that I am one who is NOT profit driven. If I were, I would certainly not be a very good businessman.

Beyond all of this, I am here to support my game and the community of players that is forming around it- that includes everyone here who takes an interest.

I think that wargame designers / publishers have fewer marketing men driving their products than other genres. Certainly mass market games are very driven by 'what will sell' in large stores. Wargames- not so much.

While I may sell direct and through distribution (if I can meet their terms) with our next title, the key driver behind the development is yours truly. I am only influenced by my time, my budget, what books I read for research, and players themselves.

One of the greatest challenges of any 'newer' game company committed to releasing quality wargames is not competing with other current companies. Rather, to an extent, there is unavoidable competition with the nostalgia that surrounds OOB companies (and their games) such as Avalon Hill, SPI, etc. Comparisons are inevitable and they are accepted. They formed the benchmark that as designers, I feel, we must attempt to meet or exceed. They produced some excellent games in their time- but the production of new wargames does not depend on them.

To support the continuation of this hobby as you know it, it is important to support smaller companies trying to carve into an already tight niche market. People like me go out on a limb and accept an incredible amount of risk to get something produced- yet we do it not to appease a mass market- but to share our passion for design, our passion for wargaming, and our desire to further the wargaming hobby.

Personally, I'm excited to see the Wargamer base on BGG growing. You're a good bunch of guys/gals. I'm also proud to be a part of this community as both a gamer and a designer/publisher.

Cheers.
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Confusion Under Fire
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Byron Collins
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pete belli wrote:




An excellent contribution!

What I am about to say to the hard-core wargame design hobbyist I write with the deepest sincerity:

You are probably not going to make any money on your wargame design anyway, so put your heart and soul into producing the best game you can create... even if it takes years to bring to fruition.


Thanks Pete, and I agree with your statement. That's the way to approach it.
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