Publishing lessons

Board games & crowdfunding

Connecting with customers

13th July 2023 2

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?

Frank West

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!


  • Wonmin

    13th July 2023 at 7:17 pm

    Would love to see the numbers on this once it’s up and running.

    It kinda reminds me of how seasons work in Diablo 4. (Or maybe I am just addicted to Diablo 4 and am just seeing it everywhere lol)


    • Frank West

      13th July 2023 at 7:40 pm

      I’ll be more than happy to share them.

      I’ve been working on ways of including seasonal content in games where it seems appropriate for many years now but I am certainly learning from games like Path of Exile and Diablo. They are the experts after all!


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