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Help With Distributors
Topic: Help With Distributors (Read 1430 times)
Help With Distributors
July 21, 2008, 04:29:04 PM »
I've been mooching around this forum and have used it to help design a card game over the last few months. Firstly thank you to everybody for having all this information here and making it available to people like myself who are still pretty much in the dark when it comes to producing their first game. I really appreciate it.
The point of the post is that I am looking to release. The playtesting is done, the art is on its way but I need to do some number crunching and research before i see if it is worth releasing. (I am a 21 yr old student so money is a serious concern, currently balanced against my love of the hobby and my confidence in my product).
What I would like to know is whether people who have released games (or are just generally knowledgeable) have any information about distributors (primarily in the UK). I feel that this is one market I need to try and get into as well as selling it of my own back. However I know nothing about it. Any words of wisdom, contacts of good people to speak to, methods of getting it into small gaming shops or just general thoughts would be most appreciated. Hopefully I will be able to amass enough data to feel this is a worthwhile investment (I know the game is, its the return that worries me. Having more selling options open to me would make me feel much better).
Feel free to post or pm me with anything at all. If I get enough info and then follow it up I may be able to put together a post to help other people in my situation and give something back to the community.
Once again I really appreciate all the help I got through reading all your posts.
Re: Help With Distributors
Reply #1 on:
August 02, 2008, 07:48:45 AM »
Wow- welcome to the club, friend!
A few years ago, I was *literally* in your position; 20, wrapping up college courses and releasing a customizable card game, so I might have a hand for you.
How "big" are you? Like several others here, when I started, I was/am a one man operation, learned PR and everything as it came at me. As a consequence, I was ill-prepped for dealing with the distributors. What I learned in the intervening period is that the distributors like things that have muscle behind them and don't often take a chance on such one-man operations. I finally got my leg into distro via Key20, a fulfillment house that serves distributors around the world. Aldo of Impressions, who also floats around the forums, fills a similar role.
As an additional note, the above is a general lesson learned; as far as card games go, its a serious long-shot to get a distributor to seriously stock it unless you're pulling massive requests. I'm currently owner of a FLGS, so I'm seeing things now from the other end of the spectrum, and yea, there are a boat load of card games rolling down the pipeline, most of which suck but of which are also mostly from big names.
A lot of stores are hesitant of picking up something new like that; my own policy in-store is I like to have either killer support from the publisher to get people to play or around four local players who play before I'll stock it. My personal policy stems from my con experiences with The Forge: I want people to be able to see the product being played because play generates sales, and I'd like to either capably represent the product myself (hence killer support) or know someone who can (the four players in the area).
In bringing your title, a card game specifically, to distributors, the hurdles you need to overcome include:
- Market permeation. How many people play? Its a Catch-22, but suppliers will only want to carry something if people play; people will only play if they can find it. Sucks, but if you can make a good show at some conventions, build some localized cells, and start getting the groups to request that stores stock it, you'll pop up on someone's radar. I was hitting stores around Michigan here as often as I could and had a decent radius; also developed a couple cells in Indianapolis thanks to GenCon. I believe it helped greatly when I finally got in.
- Support. Not that it ever really trickles down through the three tiers, but the support you offer should be significant. This is aimed more at retailers, because again the retailer requests will help your case with distributors. As a publisher, I found it to be a bear to get promotional and educational materials out about my title, and as a store owner I don't see much in my suppliers mailings. I get a better response off the GPA Mailing List from folks who fire off info, demo product, etc.
- Repeat purchases. This one hurt me; my card game was small, easily collected. Distributors for card games will want to see a volume of sales, because that's what they're used to with Magic and the like. To get any kind of volume, you want to encourage repeat purchases. As a player, I hate it, as a designer I dislike it, but as a retailer I can see why.
The above might seem odd; if you're developing relationships with retailers, and growing communities, why not sell direct? If you're happy with the community you develop, then do it; its more money in your pocket for development of more, and its a reasonable progression. But if you seriously want into distribution, you want to direct as many requests to distribution so that the distributors want to carry your product. Significant cut in your profits per-unit, but if you can increase your footprint, its not so bad.
Its about time to open, actually, so I'm going to duck off here; basically, build as much of your market as you can first, then take it to distributors. Check out the GPA, if only for the mailing list of designers, publishers, and retailers, and try to work with folks to build the base footprint. You'll get better sales, and more attention, if you can present the larger footprint as opposed to just bursting out of the gate.
Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited!
Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
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