14 March 2019 | 23 Comments
My favorite way to market our products is to get them to the table more often. Your table, my table, the tables of reviewers, ambassadors, etc–any table will do. The more our products get to the table, the more they’re exposed to people.
This is a big part of the reason why we support our products with reprints, expansions, and ongoing reviews, as well as focusing on accessibility (Watch It Played videos, ability to teach to new players on the fly instead of frontloading rules, etc). Our goal is to bring joy to tabletops worldwide, but a key element is that our games must actually get to the table.
Perhaps my #1 favorite way to accomplish this goal is through play-and-win donations for game conventions.
Play-and-win is a convention concept where people can check out your game, play it, and then enter their name in a lottery to win that specific game at the end of the convention. If I donate a play-and-win game to a convention, it can be experienced by dozens and dozens of people in a short amount of time. Only one of those people will win it, so if other people liked the game, they’re now informed in their decision to purchase it later.
I’ve been talking about play-and-win on this blog for a while after discovering it at Geekway to the West, and I’ll post those links at the bottom of this entry.
Today I’m going to focus on the play-and-win Google Doc that I created and maintain, as well as my current approaches to maximizing the potential of play-and-win for publishers, conventions, and gamers.
If you’re a publisher who likes the play-and-win system, but you don’t like getting solicitations from hundreds of conventions, the Google Doc is for you. You can simply enter your information on the current year’s tab, which communicates to the participating conventions that you’re in the know and don’t need to be contacted individually.
I have a calendar alert at the beginning of the month to remind me to check the Google Doc for conventions happening two months in the future. So, in early January I looked at conventions happening in March.
The number of games I send to a convention depends on the size of the event. Sometimes the play-and-win coordinators enter their information on the Google Doc and forget about it, so I help to remind them of what the package is by including the words “play-and-win” as part of the address label.
I try to keep our ambassadors informed about the various conventions that feature our play-and-win games. If any of them attend those conventions, they can make sure to drop by from time to time to see if players have questions. Otherwise, you don’t need to be worried about having teachers present–people who use play-and-win are usually comfortable to learn the game from the rulebook, and random fans of the game often stop by to help out.
Last, while we donate our games to play-and-win sections for free, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to ask a convention to pay for your games (ideally a reduced rate). Play-and-win sections are major draws at convention–you’re helping them just as much as they help you.
- Please enter your convention on the Google Doc (use open rows at the bottom). Do not solicit me directly by e-mail, and do not e-mail me to ask if/when your game(s) will be sent. You will either receive games 30-45 days before your event…or you won’t, in which case you have plenty of time to purchase games to fill your play-and-win section.
- If you enter your info on that spreadsheet, you may only use the donated games for play-and-win, and you are committing to having a play-and-win section. Play-and-win is a major draw for attendees–and a great way to serve them–which is why some conventions wisely allocate part of their budget towards buying games specifically for this purpose.
- At least several weeks before the convention, tell vendors which games were donated for play-and-win so they can stock those games at the event. The play-and-win section should close before the vendors.
- If possible, provide a US mailing address (if you’re located in another country, offer a local address as well). Because of the expense of shipping internationally, we rarely send play-and-win games outside of the US.
- It never hurts to follow up with a publisher after a convention to let them know how their games did in the play-and-win section. I understand that this is extra work, and I won’t ever hold it against a publisher for not doing so, but it’s really nice when conventions do this (in recent memory, TantrumCon and Whose Turn Is It Anyway did so).
- I would recommend only letting each person win at most 1 game–that way you spread out the prizes among the most people. Also, instead of interrupting the convention to announce the winners, simply post them at a few key places around the convention hall.
There are other tips from specific conventions on this tab of the play-and-win Google Doc.
If you like the idea of play-and-win, feel free to check out the conventions listed on the Google Doc. You might discover a nearby game convention that you haven’t heard of.
If you’re new to game conventions, I think you’ll find them to be very welcoming. I’m an introvert who does not get excited about big events, but my experience at Geekway has been really invigorating. There are countless times when I’ve been invited into a game or when someone offers to teach a game.
What are your thoughts on play-and-win?
- a developer has created some proprietary play-and-win software
- An Open Letter to Small Game Conventions from a Tiny Publishing Company
- The New Play-and-Win System
- The Hard Data Behind Play-and-Win
- The Magic of Play-and-Win: Data from Geekway 2015
- 5 Google Spreadsheets That Can Help Every Tabletop Game Creator