Started by Stregheria, August 29, 2010, 07:10:06 PM

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My rpg is about to go into print in a few weeks time and I'm a bit confused about the reviewing process. A game without some sort of internet awareness or opinion will probably not sell very well. After all, not many people are going to buy somehing they cannot find any information about. I notice that some game manufacturers approach reviewers they think will give a fair and professional evaluation of their product.

The subject matter of this thread is two-fold:-

1) How do you go about getting good reviewers to review your game and can anybody recommend someone in particular. I would ask you Ron, being the uncrowned king of the indie rpg world! ;D but I saw those videos of you and Tobias debating in Italy (really enjoyed them) and I think my game might be a bit basic for your tastes. My game, I believe, is very good but it doesn't try to break the mechanical mould, so to speak. It has no clever intellectual approaches or ground-breaking psychological aspects, it's just a solid, playable, traditionally styled fantasy rpg. You might find it a bit straight-forward in its methodology and I need sycophants! (just kidding. ;D )

2) What impact do reviews have on games: are they the difference between selling or not selling your product?
Stregoneria RPG


I would fish around for some of the better reviewers (you can read reviews they've done for previous games) and then see if any of them are interested in giving a review of your game. Also, podcasts and RPG blogs that use actual play reports and reviews as a feature of their program might be interested in doing the same. This of course is just a guess, never hawked my own games before.


That's a great idea. I'll trawl through some of their reviews and see if I can find somebody who's done a really well wrtten and constructed one and who I feel might like the style of my own game.
Stregoneria RPG

Ron Edwards


Good reviews never hurt. I've benefited from a few on myself, and as it happened, also benefited from some stupid nonsense reviews too, because the person in question revealed their true colors and prompted sales from those who saw through their noise. I have never solicited a review, and only extremely rarely and under duress provided complementary review copies. I don't know how to approach a reviewer but I'm sure someone here does.

I don't write reviews any more. I found that my reviews were mainly write-ups about play, which I was doing at length in the spanking-new Actual Play forum anyway. And the primary purpose of "reviews" in many people's minds are counter to anything I'd imaginably write.

But I know what works the best: posting here about playing your game, specifically describing what features were fun, perhaps what kind of reasoning went into them, and really bringing out the color of it all. Not the detail, necessarily, but the color. The things that look and feel cool and fun. The events that your system really helped to shine in play. People who like what your game has to offer will be instantly attracted.

This cannot be faked. It is absolutely counter to what is taught in public relations or marketing classes, or instructed in popular how-to for business books. If you really have a product, which is to say, if someone who wants to do this thing will find it fun to do with your game, then showcase that fact ... and none of that kind of instruction, which is all predicated on selling useless and redundant shit to people who don't want or need it, will be necessary.

I'd like to clarify to you that neither I, nor this forum collectively, privileges clever over good. I told you before and I'll say it again here: if your game does solid classical fantasy-adventure well, then that's a virtue. Bluntly, few or none of the classic fantasy-adventure games did it well in the first place, so being good at it is not imitation.

Don't give us an infomercial. Don't give us a slogan. Don't promise us a blowjob. Just have fun writing about why you have fun playing your game.

It's the only real promotion possible for a role-playing game, and this site, plus related sites, is the widely-recognized place to do it.

Best, Ron


Thanks for all the advice. When my keyboard has stopped smoking from all the hours of frantic typing that I'm doing at the moment to get my game finished, I'll try and get something posted in the actual play section.
Stregoneria RPG


Another data point on reviews: I don't know they actually help that much on their own. For one of my games, I've received a number of reviews; a few of them glowing and a couple so-so (I hesitate to call them "negative" because they liked the basic game, just not the style). You might think this is pretty good, and it is, but the thing is that it hasn't helped at all with sales.

I think one of the larger keys to potential sales success is that people want to see/hear people having fun with your product. It makes them think "Hey, I'll have fun with this, too!" which inspires more purchases than even a positive review. I'm not saying "Go out and lie about how much awesome fun your product was!" Just real, honest accounts of spiffy things that happened playing your game.

So, Actual Play. Post it here and there maybe once a month and see what happens.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio


I found your comment about your sales not improving even though you had some good reviews very interesting. I assumed that good reviews might be the difference between selling lots of copies of a game and selling next to none. It's good to hear from somebody with experience in the matter and maybe actual play examples might be the better way to rack up sales after all.

Thanks for the info.
Stregoneria RPG

Nathan P.

I've gotten a couple of glowing reviews and a couple of "meh" reviews, and never a wholly negative review. I've never noticed a change in sales directly attributable to any review.

Some people do get sales out of reviews. I think there are particular combination of (a) timing (b) the game itself (c) the reviewer and (d) the game designer/author/publisher that can lead to sales, but it's a strange and unpredictable alchemy.

Reviews sure don't hurt (particularly as additional content to point to for "here's some more info about my game"), but they're not a make-or-break kind of thing, for me at least.
Nathan P.
Find Annalise
I design | ndp design
I blog | Games, Design & Game Design
I tweet | @ndpaoletta


After reading people's comments here, it has spurred me into action to try and organise a group of players to run a PBP game using my rules. I'll be giving those people free .pdfs of the rules and the first supplement due out in October: Blood on the Battlefield. (Check out my game's just revamped site that was updated today, that now has better product informaton and pictures of the front and back covers of the books.)

What I'll do when that's up and running in a few weeks time, is to leave the links here for Forge members to be able to click on and go and see the actual game being played. I know there's an actual play section here but it isn't for PBP games. I'll post some summarised info in that section myself, based on the progress of the PBP game.
Stregoneria RPG


Has any of your playtesters run the game without you present?  Getting a playtester or two to write up some actual play experiences online can help a lot.