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Subject: Game Artwork rss

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Philip Migas
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I had an interesting conversation with my FLGS owner regarding game artwork. To a brick and mortar store, the artwork on the box is almost more important than the theme, or the game mechanics. To sell a game you need to get a customer interested. Pour or unprofessional artwork can make a game difficult or impossible to sell.

The example that we discussed is the board game Hamburgum


The artwork was done by the designer/ publisher. It is absolutely dreadful. Even though this game has a good theme and game play, it does not sell. The tendency is for customers to purchase games like Stone Age or anything from FFG vs this ugly game.

Bad artwork can also prevent the game from even being demoed by potential customers. The Hamburgum open demo store copy never gets played at game nights with 60+ people in the store.

The artwork plays an important roll in getting a customer interested. For many customers their first encounter with a game will be when they notice the box cover on the store shelf. There is only one shot to make a good first impression.

My FLGS is Underhills Games in Ohio, See: http://www.underhillsgames.com/index.php
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Brad N
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You are right. To me, box art is mostly irrelevant. It's nice when the cover of the box has appealing art, but once I'm playing the game it could be in an ugly box as far as I'm concerned. However, for the non-geek strolling through an FLGS, I can understand how box art will draw people in.

Hamburgum is one of my favorite games. I think it is quick-moving, pretty easy to learn and play (so accessbile to non-gamers) and has several interesting dynamics. When people see the box though, they cringe.

My daughter asked me to add this "smiley face star" -> meeple
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Gary Simpson

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Quote:
The artwork plays an important roll in getting a customer interested.
Agreed but game developers do not always prioritize the need for art/marketing, underlining that great game play will make up for it.

Quote:
My FLGS is Underhills Games in Ohio
I used to go to Underhills all the time -- literally right around the corner. I was going to playtest some game designs there but moved to LA before that happened.
 
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Philip Migas
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gsimpson wrote:
I used to go to Underhills all the time -- literally right around the corner. I was going to playtest some game designs there but moved to LA before that happened.
I would love to meet with you if you come back to Akron. I have started a Design and Prototype group that meets every 3rd Friday at Underhills. Our website is www.bogadap.com.
 
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Brad N
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philomars wrote:
bnordeng wrote:
but once I'm playing the game it could be in an ugly box as far as I'm concerned.
agreed, but getting you to BUY it is the trick.
True. And, three years ago the box art may have mattered. Today, I rely on general info from this site and other people I trust who've played the game to steer me toward those games I might like. Plus, I now often play games somewhere before I actually buy them. So, the art is less important for me now than it ever was before. The only reason I care about box art is to draw in other players who might not otherwise be willing to try a game.
 
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Travis Worthington
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bnordeng wrote:
philomars wrote:
bnordeng wrote:
but once I'm playing the game it could be in an ugly box as far as I'm concerned.
agreed, but getting you to BUY it is the trick.
True. And, three years ago the box art may have mattered. Today, I rely on general info from this site and other people I trust who've played the game to steer me toward those games I might like. Plus, I now often play games somewhere before I actually buy them. So, the art is less important for me now than it ever was before. The only reason I care about box art is to draw in other players who might not otherwise be willing to try a game.
I agree that box art is most important for in store sale, but those seem to be dwindling in the hobby game market as online game stores and websites like this take more sales.

There are certaintly games that do well with decent art (Settlers, Carcassonne, blokus), some with just words (most party games) and some with great art (Magic the gathering). So I think that box cover art can help sales, that there is also a minimum threshold for acceptable art before you get to a point that bad art turns off a purchase or play. Like any other investment there is a diminishing return - (how many more copies of Settlers would sell with better box art?) and a ceiling for how many copies a game can sell with good art and a bad game.

Also there needs to be a connection between the art and the game. Magic level of art on a game for young kids, or a party game won't work even thugh it clearly is great art.

For a small publisher, professional art can be a very significant part of a game's production cost. As FLGS are unlikely to carry much stock in a small publisher's games, its questionable how much an investment in art pays off. Though if you were pressed to decide between goo art for the board and that for the box, clearly it makes sense for the box to look better than the board.
 
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Steve Duff
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I don't buy the central thesis here at all. There's nothing wrong with the artwork here. It's no different than a ton of other euros out there:

Let's hear it for Hat and Disembodied Hand! Looks great!

Mr. Sheep and Food pail screams excitement!

The Caped Crusader painting near an open book? Sign me up!

The hottest must-buy out there right now is Weirdo writing Letters. And Keys!


I do think the name of the game has had an impact though.
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Travis Worthington
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I think the key to all these titles is that there is a standard for Euro game art - Hamburgum is within those standards. In fact that cover screams pure economic enginesque game.

Investing a lot more money on a better cover for the game would likely drive very little in additional sales. Its got 1500+ ratings here on BGG, so I would consider it a success - not a hit but a solid success.
 
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A. B. West
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I personally believe box art is incredibly important - closely followed by the game board art and components. The box is the first impression. Store sales still account for an incredible portion of overall sales (at least for us) so a game has to catch the interest of somebody browsing in a store.

However! Game play sells too - for those who get a chance to play or knows others who have played.
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Eric Phillips
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I don't buy the central thesis here at all. There's nothing wrong with the artwork here. It's no different than a ton of other euros out there:
I think all your examples look considerably better than the Hamburgum box. The art is better and, more importantly, the design is better.
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Philip Migas
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I don't buy the central thesis here at all. There's nothing wrong with the artwork here.
This is not a thesis. This is a real world experience. I am repeating a discussion that I had with a very experienced game store owner. He has problems selling games with bad artwork. He pointed out Hamburgum as a perfect example of what customers will not buy from his store.

Some people do not like Puerto Rico’s and Agricola’s art. That does not mean it is bad. IMO the boxes could be improved but once the game is laid out they look very nice. Hamburgum is just plain bad. The box image is disturbing. The style is very amateurish. It’s not just the box. The board and cards and pieces are also poorly done. The box looks even worst in person than the pictures on the web.

bnordeng wrote:
True. And, three years ago the box art may have mattered. Today, I rely on general info from this site and other people I trust who've played the game to steer me toward those games I might like. Plus, I now often play games somewhere before I actually buy them. So, the art is less important for me now than it ever was before.
Brad, I am curious how you are introduced to new games? Where is the somewhere that you play games before you purchase the games? Do you have a club that plays new games?

Almost every game that I play for the first time is played at my FLGS.

T Worthington wrote:
I agree that box art is most important for in store sale, but those seem to be dwindling in the hobby game market as online game stores and websites like this take more sales.
I agree to a point. I have friend who runs http://www.griffinstoychest.com/ . Usually people coming to his website go directly to the games they want to purchase. They rarely browse the website for new game options. People that buy games from the web usually already know what they are going to buy. They normally figure this out by playing the game with someone else first. Only sometimes is it through research and recommendations. Most people want to play a game before they spend money on it. The word of mouth starts with somewhere. In my area, my brick and mortar store plays a key role in introducing new games with a large open library. One of those open games just happens to be Hamburgum, which never gets played or purchased.

Travis you reminded me about another conversation I had with my FLGS owner. I thought this would be interest you since you run: http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/ . It had to do with distribution of games. He was talking about small game designer/ publishers. Sometimes the small publishers do not want to use distributors when selling their games because of the distributors mark-up. Then they want to sell the stores larger quantities like 6-7 games to reduce shipping. He said that buying games like this was not worth his time. It is very time intensive to keep a store stocked. Dealing with a bunch of individual publishers is very difficult. Plus he wants to keep his inventory on each game small to lower his risk exposure. So the lesson is to use the distributors in order to increase your increase your opportunities to make a sale.
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Steven Metzger
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pmigas wrote:
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I don't buy the central thesis here at all. There's nothing wrong with the artwork here.
This is not a thesis.
You clearly don't understand what he meant by "thesis."
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Brad N
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pmigas wrote:
bnordeng wrote:
True. And, three years ago the box art may have mattered. Today, I rely on general info from this site and other people I trust who've played the game to steer me toward those games I might like. Plus, I now often play games somewhere before I actually buy them. So, the art is less important for me now than it ever was before.
Brad, I am curious how you are introduced to new games? Where is the somewhere that you play games before you purchase the games? Do you have a club that plays new games?

Almost every game that I play for the first time is played at my FLGS.
I haven't ever played a game at an FLGS (though I probably would). I play games almost every Wednesday at Madison Boardgamers here at the University of Wisconsin. I've been introduced to Brass, Caylus, Twilight Struggle, Notre Dame, Stone Age and many more through this group. I've since purchased Notre Dame and Stone Age because they fit better with those I game with at home. I love the other games, I just tend to play them on Wednesdays.

Also, I've introduced many friends and family to boardgaming and I've had a lot of those people buy new games and introduce them to me.

I still buy some games without playing them, but I read a lot of reviews on BGG and comments from other people on BGG who like the same kind of games as me.
 
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Philip Migas
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metzgerism wrote:
pmigas wrote:
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
I don't buy the central thesis here at all. There's nothing wrong with the artwork here.
This is not a thesis.
You clearly don't understand what he meant by "thesis."
I was assuming it meant "an unproved statement put forward as a premise in an argument".
 
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Travis Worthington
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Did you ask him how many more copies of Hamburgum he thought he could sell? I find it hard to beleive that someone would buy that game without having read about it first.

I think that certain Genre of games is more likely to be an impulse buy, fantasy/Sci-fi theme is probably much more likely to get that in store sale, and items under $20 than any "Euro". Consequently that is why you have need better art on those genres.

pmigas wrote:


Travis you reminded me about another conversation I had with my FLGS owner. I thought this would be interest you since you run: http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/ . It had to do with distribution of games. He was talking about small game designer/ publishers. Sometimes the small publishers do not want to use distributors when selling their games because of the distributors mark-up. Then they want to sell the stores larger quantities like 6-7 games to reduce shipping. He said that buying games like this was not worth his time. It is very time intensive to keep a store stocked. Dealing with a bunch of individual publishers is very difficult. Plus he wants to keep his inventory on each game small to lower his risk exposure. So the lesson is to use the distributors in order to increase your increase your opportunities to make a sale.
The 2nd edition of Triumvirate will use distribution, cost less than $20 and will have more attractive art (you can see samples at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2012515236/triumvirate-p... ). The hand made first edition games were far too costly to use distribution, even direct to store sales.
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Dex Quest
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For a bricks 'n' mortar shop I reckon the side 'spine' art/information is probably more important than the cover. In my FLGS in keswick, cumbria, all the games are sat upright, library-book like, and it really helps to have a little something extra on the spine.

Maybe a little drop-shadowed box-out of a single gameplay element or a well-written 'mission statement' selling tag to draw the hand towards the shelf.

Also, like the newspaper sports section, I don't know about my fellow gamers, but I tend to turn immediately to the back of the box, sometimes even before the front, as I know this is where the juicy stuff will be.

Unlike, say, a magazine in on a newsagent shelf, where the cover must sell itself in 10 seconds, as long as the back is red hot you can almost have the luxury of a minimalist cover (or shite cover as has been discussed here).

IMHO I also reckon too much of a fancy cover will put off lots of potential gamers, specifically in the euro market, where it's the norm to have a, let's say, slightly naive art style (which I love by the way).

I'm putting no small amount of effort into the front and back of box for Isla Tetra which I hope to get to the UK games convention this summer, for precisely these reasons. (apologies for the promo, I just though the example was relevant to my unproven claimsblush

So, as an example, here's my 'luxury' of a zero information cover:




and then an information-overload back panel:

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Philip Migas
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T Worthington wrote:
Did you ask him how many more copies of Hamburgum he thought he could sell? I find it hard to beleive that someone would buy that game without having read about it first.
I think he bought like 3 copies. He has only been able to sell 1. The one customer was set and determined to buy the game after tons of research to get Hamburgum. He doubts the other copies will sell.
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Philip Migas
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willsargent wrote:
For a bricks 'n' mortar shop I reckon the side 'spine' art/information is probably more important than the cover. In my FLGS in keswick, cumbria, all the games are sat upright, library-book like, and it really helps to have a little something extra on the spine.
MY FLGS displays them both ways.


Your game looks awesome.
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Dex Quest
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wow, now that's a game shop! (and ta for the compliment)
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Eric Carter
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I never bought Settlers of Catan before I played it because the artwork said to me "nothing exciting to see here." There was nothing wrong with the art itself, it just didn't get me to want to play the game. After I found the Geek I was more than willing to try it out, but without this site I never would've known it was worth playing.

I still don't own it because I'm not a fan of it, but at least I've tried it.
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I recently picked up The Dutch Golden Age at a sell-off solely because it will look great on my shelf. No idea if the game is any good, I just like the look of that weird Dutch warrior/easel-stand there.



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Gary Simpson

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I would love to meet with you if you come back to Akron. I have started a Design and Prototype group that meets every 3rd Friday at Underhills.
I'll be coming out this summer to see my sister so we could meet up.

Getting back to the topic from a marketing perspective...
A big problem that FLGS suffer is reaching different audiences -- the kids coming in for Pathfinder/MtG is a completely different consumer animal than the families looking for something new to play on game night. Specialty stores always sell axillary items that support their main income-makers (starbucks sells anything remotely related to coffee, mcdonald's sells any food made fast, Gamestop sells console peripherals). They need to do that to survive against the convenience that Volume stores like Wal*Mart, Target, and Best Buy offers. But when you sell to various audience with different hooks and buying patterns, you'll get stuck with the inventory and the resulting overhead.

Ultimately, game art packaging needs to be consolidated. A gamer is a gamer whether he is coming in for the latest expansion or translated euro and the packaging needs to reflect that. Video games have already done it, so why not table-top publishers?



 
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I personally don't care much for the front of the box but the back is a different story. If the back of the box does not convince me, that game has no chance with me (unless it has good reviews on BGG).

Ironically, that fact doesn't prevent me from investing good money on awesome artwork by Gary Simpson for my latest game.

Opinions, there are loads, but business is business
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Steve Duff
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pmigas wrote:
This is not a thesis. This is a real world experience. I am repeating a discussion that I had with a very experienced game store owner. He has problems selling games with bad artwork. He pointed out Hamburgum as a perfect example of what customers will not buy from his store.
I'm not denying he hasn't sold the games. The point is, he's guessing.

I think there are numerous other factors at work here. As I said, I think the name puts some people off. Another would be box size, this game is much larger than most games. A third would be price, this game is quite expensive compared to other euros. Personally, it took me a year and a half to pull the trigger on buying it, even though I knew I wanted it, simply because of the price. I kept buying something cheaper. Finally, there's the game itself, seen as a decent game, but not a superstar or anything.

Give Hamburgum a gorgeous Vasco da Gama style artwork makeover, and sales would hardly change at all.
 
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Gary Simpson

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Give Hamburgum a gorgeous Vasco da Gama style artwork makeover, and sales would hardly change at all.
That pretty much flys in the face of advertising/marketing -- which accounts for roughly 55% of any product developed for a consumer market.

Artwork/Packaging creates relevance.

Why do companies package products oriented for women with the pinks & warm colors? To show relevance. Why do companies package mascots oriented for kids? To show relevance. Why do body sprays for men have dominating/empowering names? To show relevance.

You mention price -- it sounds like your relevance would be either a generic version of the game or a brandished price tag to show it being affordable.
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