The New Play-and-Win System

12 February 2015 | 20 Comments

tokens on box
This year’s play-and-win contribution from Stonemaier Games is our treasure chest, which convention attendees can test out in an assortment of games.

One of the most popular entries ever on this blog is something I wrote about a year ago called An Open Letter to Small Game Conventions from a Tiny Publishing Company. I posted a follow up to that entry a few months later, The Hard Data Behind Play-and-Win.

These posts detailed something called “play-and-win,” which works as follows: Tabletop game convention attendees check out games from a play-to-win area. When they’re finished playing, they write the names of everyone who played or taught it on a piece of paper, which they deposit in a jar next to that specific game. At the end of the convention, one of those people will be randomly chosen to take home the game.

I consider play-and-win to be the ideal system for publishers, conventions, and attendees. It’s a way for a publisher to motivate a lot of people to play your game (hopefully generating sales) and reward someone who is interested in the game (instead of a general raffle), it’s a compelling sell for conventions to attract attendees, and it’s really exciting for attendees who have the chance to win the games they play.

After the original open letter went viral, a ton of conventions adopted this system, and I got requests from many of them. I donated somewhere around 200 copies of Euphoria to play-and-win sections in 2014.

However, receiving requests for donations, responding to those requests, mailing out games, and tracking all of that information takes a lot of time. That isn’t just for me–I can only imagine the amount of time that convention volunteers spend to gather contact information from publishers and reach out to each of them. Play-and-win requires much more annual work for conventions than traditional game libraries.

So I created a new system.

That link takes you to a Google Doc where conventions can enter their information and update it on an annual basis. They no longer need to reach out to individual publishers one by one, as publishers can access the Google Doc at any time. It’s formatted to make bulk shipping easy for publishers.

A secondary benefit of this system is that it might help people discover new conventions in their area.

If you’re a tabletop game publisher who wants to use this list from now on, you can enter your information on the last tab of the Google Doc so the conventions no longer need to contact you directly. The next time you get such a request, you can point the convention to the Google Doc.

This system is new, and I’m open to feedback to improve it. Currently there are over 30 conventions on the spreadsheet, and that number can increase significantly if other conventions enter their information on the document.

Leave a Comment

20 Comments on “The New Play-and-Win System

  1. Sorry I used the wrong terminology. Not demo but have in a library. Usually how many would you recommend per convention?

  2. Hey Jamey!

    Just so I’m understanding the Play and Win System correctly. Publishers are sending one copy of the game, that is used as a demo, and that copy is also the prize? Does this copy have to be brand new in shrink?


    1. It may help if you go back and read some of the older posts about play and win, because those copies aren’t used to demo games at all. Rather, they’re there for people to play, and near the end of the convention, one person who played the game will win (they’ll take home that copy of the game).

      You can donate as many copies as you want to play and win, and the games don’t have to be new in shrink.

  3. Such a fantastic idea! Play and Win was one of my favorite parts of Geekway to the West last year! This should help the hobby immensely!

  4. Excellent system Jamey! I’ve just added myself under publisher tab. Do you have standard procedures for publishers sending out the games or con accepting the games? Maybe a column for instructions like “contact us first” or “send in by this date” might be helpful.

  5. This is a really great list, Jamey! I especially like that it’s not just for publishers, but for everyone else who might be interested in finding a Con in their area. For people in the industry, it lists the attendance from the year before to help you gauge how popular it is and will help me make decisions on which Con to attend.

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