Why you should have a quick 3-minute overview video
Videos have been a big part of the board game industry for a while now, and if you plan to release a game you’re going to need to have some.
If you browse crowdfunding and pre-order pages you will find there are 4 main types of videos:
The trailer. These are usually 2 minutes long, spend 20-30 seconds showing artwork and telling the story, followed by 70-80 seconds of rules and a 20 second wrap up listing off components.
How to play. A video designed to teach you how to play the game, going through the full rules and allowing you to skip reading a rulebook.
A playthrough. The game being played in real time showing the true experience of playing the game.
Reviews/Previews. Third party opinion pieces sharing their thoughts on the game.
The quick overview video
I believe there is a fifth type of video you should be including and while I rarely see it on crowdfunding pages, I believe it can offer more value than any other type of video.
It’s also the easiest one to make!
This is the quick overview video, ideally the video should be around 3 minutes long and introduce the key parts of the game in 1 take. The goal of this video is to give people a good idea of what to expect from the game.
This isn’t a trailer. Trailers are very focussed on marketing and creating excitement. This is a more down to earth, genuine video recorded on a personal level.
This isn’t a how to play. It should explain a few rules and give you an idea of how some things work, but only key parts critical to understanding the game.
This isn’t a playthrough. It should show components and how some things look while being played, but it is only highlighting key parts.
This isn’t a review/preview. You shouldn’t be trying to sell the game or give opinions on it.
Creating the video
Where possible, you should be the one creating this video, the more personal you make it the better. This video shouldn’t have huge amounts of editing, it’s not about music, or animations, it’s about authenticity.
I’ve seen these videos recorded using both phones and webcams so you don’t need to have a big fancy setup.
I’ve been playing around with this format for around 5 years now, my first attempt was with The City of Kings back in 2017.
I recorded this in my living room and used a convention banner behind me to hide the sofa!
As this was a very large game, I focussed the overview on key mechanisms to help you feel like you knew how things worked, without having to dive into too much detail.
More recently, I changed the approach from editing clips, into the 1 take overview.
As Explore & Draw is a much smaller game than The City of Kings, it allowed me to get deeper into some parts of the game.
I have also used this approach with expansions.
With expansions there’s less focus on the story and overall concepts as it can be assumed viewers will be familiar with the game. This means the video can focus more on explaining the new gameplay that can be expected from the game.
Why it works
These videos are great because they are about informing the viewer, it isn’t a sales pitch but rather a quick injection of information. They can then use this information to decide whether it is something they would be interested in.
As the videos are short (3 minutes is ideal) people are more likely to watch the entire video. You can use this to make sure they know everything they need to know.
In my experience, these videos on average have received 2 – 3 times more views than any other video on my crowdfunding pages.
I’m still experimenting with the exact formula and I think it will always vary a little bit depending on the size of the game. If you have made a quick overview video for your own game then feel free to share it in the comments, I’d love to see it!
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!