Cool Table, Rocket Cats in Space, The Candyman Can, Camp Friendship, BEARanoia…
I’ve been designing games for the past three years – and some of them are even pretty good. But I have yet to seriously pitch or publish any of them. Why? If I think they’re good, and others do, too, why aren’t I doing anything with my work?
After a lot of soul-searching, I realized that I was trying to do both – to have my cake and eat it, too. Pitching and publishing. Hedging my bets between getting a traditional publisher and self-publishing with assistance from crowdfunding.
I would spend so much time reading and researching – learning how to run a Kickstarter, compiling lists of publishers, even obsessively reading the League of Gamemakers. I was getting nonstop advice, and acting on maybe 5% of it. In short, I wasn’t willing to take that first real step and commit.
It’s classic analysis paralysis. Every move seems like a viable one.
With the notable exception of Tabletop Deathmatch, I have yet to take any major steps toward getting a game published, or publishing it myself. But recently, my husband and design partner Pete and I decided to set goals for ourselves, including deciding, finally, what we’d do with all these games we’ve amassed. Here are some of the big questions we asked ourselves:
1) Is this game straightforward or does it have unusual components?
2) Are we okay with this being rethemed and changing dramatically before being released?
3) Would we be willing to start a business for this game?
4) Do we have space to store and fulfill games, and if not, do we think we could raise enough to cover those costs too?
5) Do we already have some interest in this game we can leverage?
6) Could this viably be published in an alternative way?
We figured out, game by game, what we really wanted to do with it. And in 90% of the cases, for us, that was traditional publishing. We both feel more comfortable pitching our games for awhile, maybe a year or two, and then seeing if the time is right for a Kickstarter or whatever the next generation of crowdfunding may be if needed. We identified a couple of our games that we think are particularly good candidates for a traditional publisher, and are throwing ourselves wholeheartedly behind these options. We’re finally thinking like gamers – figuring out a strategy, and pursuing it.
And that additional 10% of our games, where finding a traditional publisher isn’t going to work? Well, expect a very small Kickstarter coming soon. Hey, we don’t always take our own advice.
I feel like I’m not the only way stuck in this purgatory between self-publishing and pitching. Who else is here with me? What questions do you ask yourself to make up your mind? Or maybe, for you, it’s not a binary and there are more than two options (I went through a crazy “art games” period that led to some very interesting ideas)? Let me know what you think in the comments.
I want to know what considerations you take into account when you decide what to do with your games. Or maybe you haven’t decided at all, and we can talk it out! Let’s do this.
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