Saturday, May 05, 2007

Viral Marketing Board Games

It's Alive

I've been thinking of ways to viral market my game It's Alive. It's being produced by Reiver Games in the UK, but only in a limited edition of 300. Jack cuts and assembles all the games himself to assure the high-quality of the finished product.

So, OK, 300 copies of the games will sell and they'll be great. But how can I get 3,000 copies of the games printed and sold? Or 300,000 copies?

Right now, it would technically do no good to get more than 300 pre-orders for the game, or even 300 pre-orders for the game, because Jack needs time to print and cut them all. So I have to consider the timing of the marketing.

But, imagine that Jack did get 300 pre-orders in a few weeks. Or 3,000.

I'm not entirely happy that only 300 games will be produced, and at this speed. I want to sell lots and lots of copies. I want the game to sit in toy stores around the world and have licensed Star Wars and Pokemon versions. I want them produced with poor-quality components and available on sale for $7. Like every other chump game-designer with a dream, I want the proverbial "next Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit".

I'm totally thrilled that the game is going to print, of course. And I should be happy that it's going to be made so nicely, even though it will be targeted at a smaller audience. But I have so many ideas for marketing that I don't get to use, now.

What's a designer to do?

If you're going to be in York this Wednesday evening, you can do a fresh playtest of the game. Playtesters get free beer (I think this was implied, but do confirm) and 20% off the purchase price of the game.

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is selling a story attached to a product. In other words, you don't show your product with a lot of happy people playing it. You show a great story that happens to include your product. People with no particular interest in the product will share the story.

The story spreads, and as a side result, you get advertisement beyond what money can buy. Think Coke and Mentos.

I was thinking of making a funny video with my game, or some funny advertisements.

I was thinking of a treasure hunt, where each copy of my game would include a clue on a piece of paper. In this case, the people who own copies of the game would have to communicate to solve the puzzle, thereby forming a community.

Or, similar to the above, each game included a rule to a global game of Haggle, where even people who didn't buy the game could play.

So many ideas, and no products to implement them for. Sigh.

Apples to Apples Jewish Edition

I went to my cousins for dinner and my brother David and co for lunch and the afternoon. Tal and Saarya were with me.

In the evening, we playtested Apples to Apples - Jewish Edition with my cousins. Naturally, the only issue is how it compares to the Regular Version.

Well, not so great. As I mentioned earlier, a friend of mine playtested it and liked it slightly more than the regular edition because of the Jewishy expressions. I actually missed the more universal and therefore flexible cards. Specific cards, like people, are harder to play.

And the people in the general edition are universally known, and therefore have well-known personalities that you can match against types of cards. The Jewish cards are less well-known, and therefore less useful to play, because people don't know who they are.

I guess they are supposed to be educational. E.g. you get to explain to your children who Sandy Koufax is. But educational cards do not make for good Apple cards.

There are also a few editing problems, in words mis-spelled and poorly chosen descriptive text. They probably should also have made a new Jewishy picture for the apples. It's not bad, and we had fun playing it just like the original, but if I had my choice I would stick to the original, I think.

By the way, I received this copy free-of-charge as a review copy directly from the publisher.

Day of Games

With my brother and family the next day we played a whole bunch of games. I taught my brother and his eldest how to play Power Grid. It looked like either Saarya or I was winning, but David squeaked out a surprise victory at the end after both Saarya and I made some careless mistakes near the end. They both enjoyed the game.

Meanwhile, Tal played Havoc with the younger kids and managed to do her usual win by winning the final three rounds with straight-flushes. They then played Settlers of Catan. My nephew won that one. Both games were well-received.

After that, we seemed to have trouble dividing people into two groups, as everyone wanted to play the same game that everyone else was playing. I have this problem with my game group, too.

Anticipating a larger game group I had brought Saboteur, which we played with eight people. This one also went over well, and my sister-in-law even joined us. I changed the cave in card to only affect the last card of a tunnel, and not somewhere in the middle, which gives the dwarves a slightly better chance.

However, there was unanimous agreement that nobody liked the scoring mechanism.

After that was done, there was some more milling around trying to figure out what to play, until a deck of cards was brought out and I finally learned how to play Spades.

Spade is a cross between Oh Hell and Tichu; my daughter knows both of these games, and had no problem picking up Spades on her first play. Like almost all partnership card games, it's a lot of fun. We couldn't finish an entire set, but we were pretty close to tied by the end of the game.

Game News

Stephanie Joyce sent me this link to folk art game of Snakes and Ladders which just sold for $64,000.

Matthew Marquand describes his son's experience with his class over a board game design project.

Plenty of people have reviewed the new Settlers on XBox, including Team XBox.

Lucky You, the latest movie revolving around poker, isn't getting hot reviews.

The Eye Judgment is to be a trading card game that comes with a special webcam. In order to play, you hold your card up to the camera, and the corresponding mechmonster appears as if it's standing on your hand on your monitor. (source)



Alice Langholt said...

I appreciate you reviewing the Apples to Apples Jewish Edition. Since I wrote the cards, I find your comments very interesting. I really tried to include a wide variety of experiences and people in order to make the game richer. If you did not immediately know who someone was, the flavor text was there to clue you in, just like in the regular game. Also, we kept the graphics the same in case a player wanted to mix the cards into his or her regular set. I worked closely with Ellen Winter from Out of the Box in writing the card text, so that it would be consistent with their writing standards. We are going to be revising some cards for the third printing (yes, third), and I welcome your suggestions.
Thanks. Alice
P.S. I'm now working for Out of the Box:

Yehuda Berlinger said...


Thanks for the comment. As I said, a different person from my game group played it and liked it more than the original.

I sent a few dozen corrections and changes to JET, and he said he would use most of them.

I'm now working on the Hebrew version and I appreciate how difficult it is, but in my case it's because my Hebrew isn't that good, so I need helpers.