As humans, we often surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, increasing the odds of being liked and fostering enduring friendships. This practice is normal, but knowing people beyond our usual circles holds significant value.
When I work on a new game I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want it to achieve. Today I’ll be looking at my next unannounced game and sharing some of the goals I hope to accomplish during its development.
In the weeks leading up to Gen Con, social media fills with people discussing which games they are looking forward to, and a buzz of excitement grows in the gaming community. But just how important is this for a game?
I often say that connecting a group of mechanisms to create a game is easy, but discovering a way to do it that results in a fun experience is the true challenge of game design. So how do we find the fun?
I pride myself on being open and accessible. I try hard to provide tools, build communities around my games, and give people a way to reach out if they need to. From being able to comment on nearly any page on this website to my activities on social media, my newsletters, live streams, Facebook groups, and BoardGameGeek forums, there are many ways for you, me, and anyone who enjoys my games to interact.
It is a wonderful thing to be open and connected, but the honest truth is that the vast majority of people who buy my games don’t really care. Most people wouldn’t go to a publisher’s website or join a Facebook group. They want to buy a game and play it, and that is absolutely fine.
This is one of the biggest challenges with creating physical products. While I interact with tens of thousands of people, there are hundreds of thousands of people playing my games. If I create something new, whether that be a new game, an expansion, or a fix to the existing game, I have no way of reaching them.
An interesting case for this which I saw recently is the new vision-friendly cards for Wingspan. Stonemaier Games created a special pack of cards to help make the game more accessible, but how do they inform the 1.7 million people who own the game that they are now available?
Race to the Raft
I have been thinking about this problem for a long time, and with Race to the Raft, I am trying something new.
On page 8 of the rulebook, I have included the following section.
I am offering free additional content to anyone who visits my website and giving them the option to sign up for emails that will send them further free content in the future.
Additionally, I have included three small tokens in the box that are only used for this extra content. On page 19, there is a second statement about the free content’s availability.
The idea is to provide someone with a big incentive for taking the extra step that actively improves their experience of the game, like receiving a free Christmas themed scenario at Christmas, while not lessening their experience if they opt not to do it.
The critical part to this succeeding is that I have to maintain the trust between myself and the person subscribing to the content. I cannot send them marketing emails or directly advertise other products, as the relationship here is about providing ongoing scenarios that keep the game fresh and alive.
However, when I send a new scenario out, I do think it would be acceptable on rare occasions to include an additional one line of text at the end of the scenario email, informing them of key information around the game.
I don’t expect that everyone will rush to sign up, but even if just a few percent of game owners opt in, that’s still thousands of extra people who I have now started building a direct relationship with.
Race to the Raft will be releasing in retail around the world on August 17th, so it will be a while before I can see how this goes. But the pre-orders are shipping, and I have already seen a good number of people sign up.
Have you seen any other games finding ways to interact with you via the contents of the box, outside of using an app?
Sometimes things go wrong and sometimes those things are so bad that fear starts to set in. After years of planning, you don’t want to fall at the final hurdle so having a plan for when things go wrong is critical.