2 March 2020 | 34 Comments
Over the last few years, inspired by Steve Jackson Games, I’ve released stakeholder reports for Stonemaier Games. It’s time for this year’s report.
A “stakeholder” in Stonemaier Games is anyone who has an impact on our company and a stake in our success, whether it’s employees, contractors, fans, retailers, distributors, volunteers, artists, designers, backers, readers, etc. So if you’re reading this, the report is for you.
2019 Revenue and Personnel
We use the accrual method for accounting (expenses and revenue count in the year when we ship the products to the customer). Last year, 43% of our revenue was from distributors, 26% from localization partners, 25% directly from consumers, and 6% from other sources (digital, memberships, etc).
- Revenue: $12.8 million
- Full-time employees: 1
- New games: 2
- New expansions: 2
- New accessories: 1
- Kickstarter campaigns: 0
- Preorder campaigns: 5
For comparison, revenue was $9.6 million in 2018. While I’m not comfortable discussion profit (arguably the most important number), I will say that it was significantly less than revenue. We consistently reprint almost all of our games, so the majority of our profits are reinvested into reprints.
We have no debt, nor did we take any loans in 2019. As usual, cash flow was tight at certain times of the year due to the gap between when we need to pay Panda (our manufacturer) and when distributors pay us, but we made it work.
Even though I was the only full-time employee at Stonemaier Games in 2019, we hired a Director of Communications last year who started working on January 1, 2020. Alan (our co-founder) works around 5 hours a week, as does Morten (though Morten now runs Automa Factory, a separate company that creates solo modes for our games and others, full time). We work with many independent contractors to accomplish specific tasks (artists, graphic designers, web devs, proofreaders, playtesters, etc).
I (Jamey) own 90% of Stonemaier Games. We started 2019 with a few shareholders, and when we were approached by some investors, some of our shareholders decided to sell some of their shares to the new investors (after many internal discussions). The addition of the new shareholders has been very fruitful, especially in terms of their insights and unique perspectives regarding some big decisions. As a result, we’re open to other investors in the future.
We continue to contract Greater Than Games (a fellow St. Louis company) to provide warehousing, distribution brokerage, and fulfillment for our products. I still run Stonemaier Games out of my home office, and Joe works from home as well.
Games in Print
We have a number of different SKUs (expansions, accessories, promos, realistic resources, etc), but our core products are 9 games. The quantities below are the lifetime units in circulation for each game in all languages as of January 2020, and the BGG rankings are as of today.
- Viticulture: 102,784 units (BGG rank: 21)
- Euphoria: 35,000 units (BGG rank: 365)
- Between Two Cities: 39,900 units (BGG rank: 555)
- Scythe: 308,118 units (BGG rank: 11)
- Charterstone: 77,500 units (BGG rank: 241)
- My Little Scythe: 51,500 units (BGG rank: 669)
- Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig: 43,000 units (BGG rank: 608)
- Wingspan: 299,841 units (BGG rank: 22)
- Tapestry: 52,770 units (BGG rank: 268)
Scythe continues to be our most lucrative brand, given its range of expansions and accessories. Wingspan will soon overtake it in terms of core games sold. Some quantities on this list didn’t change at all, as we had enough stock at the beginning of 2019 to last the year.
The new products we introduced in 2019 were Wingspan, Euphoria: Ignorance Is Bliss, the Scythe modular board, Tapestry, and the Wingspan European Expansion.
The biggest–and most pleasant–surprise of 2019 was Wingspan. I knew how much I loved Elizabeth Hargrave’s game, but I wasn’t sure if hobby gamers would give it a chance. Not only did many try it, but it proceeded to invite tens of thousands of non-gamer birders into the gaming world, and it proceeded to win the Kennerspiel des Jahres award.
This data is as of March 1.
- e-newsletter subscribers: 36,557 (61% open rate)
- Facebook fans: 23,415 (though most interactions are in our Facebook groups, which have over 46,000 members)
- Twitter followers: 16,196
- YouTube subscribers: 21,100
- Instagram followers: 21,991
- Stonemaier Champions: 6,400
- ambassadors (active volunteers): 1,007
- retailer/distributor mailing list: 749
- international localization partners: 29
- website Alexa ranking: 128,167 (avg. 9,080 views per day in 2019)
- Stonemaier Games Design Day attendees: 100
- game submissions: 200
- funds donated to charities as a result of our annual auction: $14,854
- number of cats (between Jamey, Joe, Alan, Morten): 6
You may notice that we have fewer e-newsletter subscribers than last year. The reason is that I did a detailed review of our subscribers last year and found around 10,000 people who subscribe to it but never open it. Mailchimp’s fees depend on total subscribers, so I removed the excess.
Perhaps the most impactful piece of non-game media I created this year was an hour-long video detailing the history of Stonemaier Games. People discover our company all the time, and that video lets them see how we grew from an idea and a small Kickstarter campaign into what we are today.
Biggest Changes, Observations, and Mistakes
- Personal and Relational Growth: My personal life has long been intertwined with my profession, so it was a major change for me to pursue a romantic relationship for the first time since starting Stonemaier Games. I’m extremely grateful for the experiences and growth I’ve experienced with Megan so far, including a trip to New Zealand that reminded me of how much I love to travel. While I don’t think my previous work/life balance was unhealthy, it’s been fun to recalibrate a bit.
- Demand Forecasting: Because of our method of announcing and selling new products only after we’ve made them, we have no hard data on how many we need to produce. In 2019, I tried to greatly improve my methods for demand forecasting by creating a focus group of distributors and retailers to whom I provide detailed information about new products well before we lock in first-run quantities.
- Open Sharing of Card Frames: After helping privately with several engagement proposals involving custom versions of cards from our games, I decided to make the card frames available for the public to use. See here for a collection of special uses of our cards.
- Selling an IP: 2019 marked the first time we’ve sold an entire IP–our line of realistic resources–to another company. As I detailed here, it allowed us to focus on our core competency while letting that line of products thrive in the talented hands of Top Shelf Gamer.
- No Gen Con: We experimented with not attending Gen Con, the biggest tabletop game convention in the US, for the first time in 7 years. Instead, Meeplesource did a fantastic job of representing our brand there, taking 150+ hours of planning and attending the convention off my plate (see related post). As a result, we’ll be doing something very similar in 2020.
- Controversy and Fraud: Amidst all of the good news in 2019 was a string of unfortunate events involving a prolonged series of threats, harassment, attempts at character assassination, and triangulation fraud. These weren’t the types of things I anticipated when I set out pursue a lifelong dream of designing and publishing a board game in 2011, and it was a surprise to experience in an industry where so many people are incredibly supportive of each other. I’ve tried to put my love of our customers and of games first throughout this ordeal, and I’ve chosen to spend my time and energy on the vast majority of people in the industry who do the same.
- New Employee: As mentioned previously, Joe has joined Stonemaier Games as our Director of Communications. He’s already vastly exceeded my high expectations and had a positive impact on the Stonemaier community and on me.
- Coronavirus Impact: While factories in China are starting to reopen, I suspect that the coronavirus will continue to impact manufacturing, conventions, the economy, and beyond for quite some time.
- Digital Games: Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig joined Scythe as full-AI Stonemaier digital games in 2019, and 2020 should include the digital releases of Charterstone, Wingspan, and Viticulture, as all three are well into the beta testing process with their respective developers.
- Retailers and Distributors: As the industry evolves, we continue to adjust to the changing landscape of retail. I see us trying to improve how we support both the best local retailers and the best online retailers (in fact, we just launched a new version of our retailer locator), while working with distributors to accentuate what they already do well and encourage positive change where it’s needed.
- New Products: Our lineup for 2020 will likely include one new game and expansions for three different games.
I think that’s everything! Hopefully I didn’t forget anything too big. Thanks for joining Stonemaier Games on this journey, and if there’s anything we can do to add joy to your tabletop experiences, please let us know.
Do you have any thoughts, observations, or questions about this report? I want to continue to learn from mistakes and successes, experiment, and listen to our stakeholders in 2020.
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