Building excitement, my 3-week announcement process
When launching a new game (or expansion), I like to work with a 3-week window. The first day is when I announce the product and the last day is when it becomes available to buy, often through crowdfunding.
Throughout the 3-weeks I try to:
- Grow a micro community of people who are passionate about the game and to make sure they are fully informed on all the details by launch.
- Test which mechanisms, images, components, and phrases get the most reactions so I can focus on those around the release.
- Make as many people as possible aware of the game to some degree, but keeping in mind they don’t need to know too much just yet.
On the day the game becomes available I will then use the most successful wording and images in a big announcement that I hope the micro community will share to the wider board gaming audiences. They will be equipped with an arsenal of imagery, videos, and blog posts which they can use to help answer questions. Alongside this I will monitor as many social channels as possible and respond to all questions that are asked, where it is appropriate for me to do so, ideally by linking to content I have already released during the 3 weeks.
A breakdown of the 3-weeks
Let’s look at The Isle of Cats announcement in 2021.
- Tuesday 4 May – 16:00 Stream: Announce new expansions, the Kickstarter, and launch the follower page
- Wednesday 5 May – Artwork: Kitten tiles
- Thursday 6 May – Deep dive: Kittens
- Friday 7 May – Artwork: Beast meeples small
- Saturday 8 May – Artwork: Beast tiles 1
- Sunday 9 May – Deep dive: Beasts
- Monday 10 May – Artwork: Event tiles
- Tuesday 11 May – Deep dive: Events
- Wednesday 12 May – Announce: Explore & Draw and Image
- Thursday 13 May – Deep dive: Explore & Draw
- Friday 14 May – Artwork: Boats
- Saturday 15 May – Artwork: Boats 2
- Sunday 16 May – Deep dive: Royal Rats
- Monday 17 May – Announce: Oshax pin
- Tuesday 18 May – Announce: Full pin set
- Wednesday 19 May – Kickstarter Pack 2: Meeples large
- Thursday 20 May – Announce: Big Box + Insert
- Friday 21 May – Update website with information: Expansions, Accessories, and Explore & Draw
- Saturday 22 May – Rulebooks: Kitten + Beasts, Kittens + Beasts family, and Explore & Draw
- Sunday 23 May – Videos: Explore & Draw overview, Explore & Draw how to play, Explore & Draw playthrough
- Monday 24 May – Video: Kittens + Beasts Overview, Kittens + Beasts how to play, Kittens + Beasts playthrough
- Tuesday 25 May – Launch Kickstarter
On the first day when the announcement is made I like to start with a bang. In this case introducing the new expansion, the Kickstarter, and launching the follower page for the campaign all at the same time while providing enough information to get people talking.
After that, I take a gradual approach focusing on specific details and alternating between artwork, photos, and blog posts. I believe different people enjoy different types of reveals so by alternating the types of content, it means everyone is going to enjoy something, and you’re not bombarding the same people every single day. This also allows me to post across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BoardGameGeek, and my website regularly while keeping the content appropriate for the platform.
The deep dives are a very important part of this process where I talk in detail about specific parts of the new game and how they will work. This will allow the micro community to become informed, let’s me test how people respond to specific descriptions, and provides an open book approach where people can provide critical judgement as they know all the details.
At 1-week intervals I try to include a bigger piece to raise the momentum to the next level, with this campaign on day 8 I announced the new game Explore & Draw, and on day 16 I announced the Big ‘2-minute’ Box and insert.
The last week is where I will start to share the full details filling the gaps between the deep dives. Releasing the rulebooks approximately 3 days before launch, Explore & Draw videos 2 days before launch, and the new expansion videos the day before.
Adapting to the response
I have gone through this process several times now and each time I have made changes based on the responses I am getting and on the game being announced. It’s important to go into the process with a detailed plan and all the content already made. It’s equally important to have enough free time during the process to be able to make adjustments and even new content if needed.
For example, this time around I introduced the concept of 2-minute overview videos where I explain everything you need to know about Explore & Draw and the Kittens & Beasts expansion in just 2 minutes. This wasn’t in the original plan but I found these videos were both needed and favourited by many people, I’ll always be creating them moving forward.
As another example, I had only planned to put out an image of the Royal Rats on May 16th, but on the 10th May I decided I wasn’t happy with the event tiles image as it was. I adjusted the image last minute to include some of the rat meeples to add a little extra to it and this left me unsure about my May 16th release. However, over the next few days I noticed a lot of people got excited about the Royal Rats, much more than I had anticipated so I decided to deep dive into them on the 16th and that worked very well.
Have you enjoyed the announcement process of any creators, or created your own? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!