Friday, July 27, 2007

Who's Johnny? (She said)

Johnny 5 robot for sale on e-bay.

I've just got to swing by a cash machine...


A big cash prize...ooh...aah...

White Wolf is offering a 'big' $25000 prize for the winner of their EVE CCG at GenCon this year.

That's a nice prize. I'm sure it'll lure some folks in. Still, how unremarkable is that? prize... It's all been done before, and better (I suspect), by Wizards and Upper Deck.

Just spit ballin' here.

If it really is all about the cash, what about giving:

the top 25 finishers a $1000 prize?
the top 50 finishers $500? How many players would that lure in?

The thing about giving a big pile of cash to one player is you'll lure in a semi-large group of really, really competitive players. The winner will be either a previous fan of the game (good, but not great from a marketing perspective) or players who are really good at learning games (but probably don't really care about yours.)

Think about how you could spend $25000 to make the convention game experience top notch for all the players. Moderate prizes, comfortable play area, free food and drink for paid tournament attendees, massages between rounds for the tournament leaders. What would be the coolest thing you could do/provide to the players at your event? What would make everyone walking by the event jealous that they didn't get in on it?

Last year Spoils had I-Pod tournaments. Awesome. THAT's what I'm talking about. Creating prizes that stand out.

Be Remarkable or Be Boring. IMHO, cash is boring.

OP programs seem enamored with the 'pro' player. Of course, any store owner will tell you the pro players are crappy customers. A broad generalization of the pro-player is a male, high-intensity, win oriented, gamer, who buys like he plays. That is, very efficiently. They don't buy from the local store, and they don't pay full price. When they do show up for a local tournament, it's to collect prizes.

Unless your game is designed to cater to that sort of player, and Eve might be, I don't know. I suggest catering to a more casual gamer. It's what most retailers already do, because that's what most of their customers are (even if they want to be pros). They're an under-represented portion of the CCG market. Casual gamers also tend to have lives, jobs, and a tad more money.

Of course, big prizes are sexy. We do like sexy in this business, I guess.


A Model Post

I wouldn't be caught dead wearing one in public...but on the internet, why not? I hope I never run for office, this is bound to come up!

In case you're more insane than me, the 'hat' is Available here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dis-Organized Play

What do retailers want from organized play? Well, the easy answer is sales, but like most things, Organized Play isn't easy.

As a publisher, the most efficient way to create an organized play system is to put a bunch of stuff in a box, and get that box to the retailer. In general, that's what most publisher-based OP programs are, stuff in boxes. SIB.

What's good about SIB
A consistent OP system provides continuity for players. They know what to expect when they show up for an event, and thus the expectations are easy to meet. (Unrealistic expectations on the part of your customers are a killer!)

They provide an easy solution to the problem of holding events in the store. Everything's provided, including instructions. If there's a problem, the better publishers provide some sort of customer service support.

It's economical. Most SIB's are either free or cost so little that the bump in sales from the event covers the cost. A good deal for everyone.

What's bad about SIB
In markets where there is a high density of game stores, competition can be fierce. SIB events homogenize the store's events. If there's five stores running the exact same events (or worse, the same events on the same nights...say, Friday!) there's little reason to go to any particular store. As such, if there were 30 players in the area, but each simply goes to their closest store, each event only attracts an average of 6 players. Not the critical mass events require to be considered successful.

What's this mean? It means if you're developing an OP program, realize that you've got a different problem to solve depending on the store you're dealing with. Stores with competition are looking for ways to stand out from the others. Stores that are the only game in town are looking for ways to fit in.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

CSI - Customer Service International

Bella Sara has launched in Italy. That's really cool, but it's stressing both me and the website out. We've got a web upgrade scheduled for next week which will really take care of the speed issues, and a bunch of other things that have been chronic for months. Must...hang...on...a...bit...longer....

What's interesting is how we've got a brand new group of customers, BAM!, joining all at once. We've got a new partner who's just dived into the deep end of the Bella Sara customer service pool. Its sink or swim time. It's my job to be the life preserver.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Mmmmm...That's is something I've been peripherally aware of for years. I set up my page of links ages ago, but never used the service. Well, I'm still not sold on it's use for me, but I'm giving it another go. I read a fair number of blogs (about a 1/2 to 1 hour's worth per day) and my excuse for taking that sort of time is education. I'm alway looking for the next cool thing. Of course, when I find it, what do I do with it? is a way to share what I've found with the world, and save stuff I like for myself. Rather than 'save as new' in Bloglines, choking my blog list with stuff I've already read, I'll add it to my link list and maybe, just maybe, other folks will get something out of it.

Or not.

I've added my link to the top of my links list, there on the right. Not much there yet, but it'll grow.