Let’s face it; I buy WAY too many games. Be it roleplaying games, board games, downloadable games, game for my Ipad, or just kickstarter goodness, I spend way too much on games. So I have to cut back on occasion. When I cut back, not only do I stop buying other games, I also stop PLAYING the games I stopped buying. So, when I do that, I look at who I’m buying from, and I try to understand who they are and where they’re going. I don’t work in the industry, but I consume what it produces. So, here I what I need from you the publishers to keep me buying your stuff.
First, communication and community! I use wunderlist to keep track of all thing things I have to do each day. In amongst my work and housekeeping tasks are all the forums and websites I check on a daily basis. And this is the best way for me to know you are alive! If I see you on your own forums, then I feel that you care. When you care, so do I. Also, when I go to your website, please keep it up to date! I know this is work, but odds are I will never see you in real life. If all I have to go on is a forum where the most recent comment is five weeks old and a bunch of broken links or old information on your site, then you are most likely the first games I will cut when I have to. An opposite example is Plaid Hat Games. Every week there guys make their own podcast as well as go on the forums. Also, they have a nice spiffy store and have lots of updates on their webpage. Paizo does almost the same thing, but they have left the podcasts to fans. However, they make lots of appearances on fan podcasts. Since both these guys do excellent work on their websites, I have no problem buying whatever they sell. I know it will be supported and discussed. I can find others who want to play also. Building your community keeps me engaged and when you announce products, I will be one of the first in line to buy and play.
As an addendum, please police your communication. Now, I love Shadowrun a lot. But for a long time, it wasn’t so. But for the longest time, their main forum was the Dumpshock forums. I haven’t had many good experiences with Dumpshock. I’ve posted there a few times, but I was met with hostile responses and generally didn’t feel included. I stopped posting and didn’t buy Shadowrun products. Later, I met some friends who love Shadowrun, and they gave me a great introduction to the system and game. This and Catalyst moving to their own forums with a much more inviting community really made me love this game. And now, it might be my favorite game. If you can’t keep the trolls out, they will keep people like me (and my money) away.
Second, release stuff! This one seems pretty simple, but I think a lot of companies drop the ball on this. When I buy a game, and I love it, I want you to keep releasing stuff for that game. Expand on your world, sell me board game expansions, but above all else keep me interested! Paizo and Mayfair do excellent jobs of this. Paizo puts out world books each month and give the players more options while releasing new ideas like the adventure card game. They might even release too much….but that doesn’t stop me from subscribing to almost everything they put out! Mayfair has Settlers of Catan and while not my absolute favorite game, it’s an awesome one that I use as a go to game on almost any occasion. And they have lots of expansions. Not just giant $50 ones, but small ones like Catan with oil recourses or cards instead of dice. If you put out new stuff for an old game, not only does it revitalize interest in the game, but it makes me think you care about that game. And if you care, I will care. If I don’t think you care, then why should I? I will fully admit to being a member of the cult of the new. Give me some new stuff and I will flock to your side!
Again a side note on this. New is great, but targeted new is better. I won’t mention any names, but target where your new is meaning support what you have before you support new ideas. Putting out new stuff just because you can is almost worse than putting out nothing. If I love product A, and I want more stuff for product A, releasing completely new product B is a big gamble. Since I like product A, I’ll buy some product B….once. But if you never go back to product A and release new, different product C, then I won’t buy it and will stop caring about product A. This is because you’ve shown me that you don’t care about product A, so why should I?
Third, a store or a way to get your stuff! It is the 21st century. When I wake up in the morning, I can check my email, get the weather, read the ENworld and BGG forums, and pay all my bills before I roll out of bed from my phone. If you have a nice way for me to buy your stuff from the same phone, then I will be much more likely to buy your stuff. Look at Amazon. They have an app that is on my phone. All my credit and debit card information is stored there. With the touch of a button, I can buy whatever product has caught my fancy. Amazon has a sale on your game? Tweet about it! I will buy your stuff if the sale is good enough. If you, Amazon, or whoever has an awesome sale on a game and you tell me, you might be able to override the logic circuits in my brain that tell me not to spend too much money! An example is Hedgemonic by Minion Games. That game is normally $75. I’ve wanted that game for a long time, but Minion Games tweeted about a sale on a website where all Minion Games’ games were 33% off. Instantly the logic in my head failed, and in five minutes one copy was on the way to Jackson MI. Make it easy to get your stuff, keep me in the loop on how to get your stuff, and I’ll buy LOTS of your stuff! If you’ve communicated and shown you care, I know you’re going to be around a long time and I’ll keep supporting your business.
Finally, be at cons or have a presence at cons. I love gaming cons! Playing new games, meeting new people, and seeing how other games are some of the best experiences you can have. What I also love is meeting with the people who make the game and discussing the game with them. Some people will drive hours to meet with their favorite author and discuses parts of a book, but I want to learn the hows, whys, and nitty-gritty of a games creation. That and have them sign my old copy of “Mazes and Monsters.” When I get to meet a game creator in real life, you become a more “real” person to me instead of just a name I read about online. And, when I get to know you, your pursuits become that much more important to me. I want you to succeed. I want your company to keep going forward. And the best way I can do that is by buying your games. Let’s use Plaid Hat as an example again. Last year my wife and I went to GrandCon (GO IF YOU CAN!). There Plaid Had hat a booth where they were they had a special go buy a game, get a free plaid hat and the designer of the game would sign your copy. I met with a few of these guys and picked up a copy of City of Remnants. A few months later in December, Plaid Hat started taking preorders for a new game that still in development. Since I knew these guys and thought they were awesome, I gave them money for this game without even thinking twice. If you make an effort to meet with me, I will make an effort support you!
Now I know you can’t be everywhere. I can’t count the number of cons that have Pathfinder Society events, and I’m sure Paizo can’t keep track of them all either. But, Paizo supports their community. They give some nice perks to their DMs and that encourages them to get out there and make lots of Pathfinder games happen. This keeps Paizo in everybody’s collective mind, shows me Paizo cares about their community, and makes me support them that much more.
And that’s what I want in a game publisher. I want you to communicate, release products I can easily buy, and make an effort to meet with me. Now I know that takes effort, but I know I’m putting effort into my hobby. I honestly make an effort to know who’s doing what and support those people I know who care about their products. I want you to meet with me half way. I love this hobby, and through it I’ve met lots of amazing people. Some of them like STAN! and John Kovalic have taken time to get to know me. And their effort makes me care that much more and want to support them.