- Playtest the Game
Board game publishers want to know a game has been playtested, revised, and improved before they sign an agreement with a designer. As a designer, you want to focus on obtaining as much feedback as possible in order to evolve, refine, edit, and build the final version of your game. The goal of this process is to improve the game in order to ensure maximum playability and enjoyment for potential customers. The playtesting process is constantly evolving, so a designer should never stop playtesting a game, even after signing with a publisher.
Many first-time designers are hesitant to do this, as they are protective of their work and fearing their game will be copied by someone else. The risk of that is very low. In addition, by publicly posting about your game and bringing it to potential customers, you put your “flag in the ground”, alerting other designers and board game industry that this is your game.
Once you have receive consistent positive feedback from your playtest sections you can start thinking about reaching out to publishers. Before you reach out make sure you have a complete rule books, sell sheets, pitch videos, and digital version of the game.
- Design a Sell Sheet
If you are consistently receiving positive feedback from playtesters and your game is pitch-ready, the next step is to start working on a sell sheet. A sell sheet is a mandatory tool designers use to provide potential publishers with a quick overview of the style, theme, and mechanics of your game. Good sell sheets include an overview of the game, player count, suggested age, length of game, components, and most importantly a unique hook. The hook is designed to entice a publisher to sign your game. A hook can vary from game to game, but publishers look for unique attributes they can use to sell the game to their followers. A captivating sell sheet shows a publisher you are an experienced professional.
- Create a Pitch Video
See the video for Magical Unicorn Quest: Click image below
After creating the sell sheet, you will want to create a pitch video. The pitch video will contain similar information as the sell sheet, but it brings the theme of the game to life in an audio and video form. The video should be under two minutes, as publishers look for short, impactful videos. Creating a script for your video can be hard, so we recommend receiving feedback from family and friends on your script before recording.
The Video should include:
- Your name, name of game, type of game, # of players, length of game
- A very quick overview of the game without giving an extensive explanation of the rules.
- A highlight of the hook- explaining what unique elements your game brings to the market.
When creating the video, we recommend creating an audio track of the script first and then recording video clips. Use video editing software to match audio clips to the video clips. Once your video is polished and ready for publication, we recommend uploading it to YouTube so it is easily accessed by potential publishers.
- Draft a Pitch E-mail
Once you have assembled all of your pitch materials, you will want to reach out to potential publishers via e-mail. Keep the e-mail concise and to the point. Below is a sample e-mail that we would use if we were pitching our upcoming game, Towering Purrfection to publisher.
Hello (Person Name / Publisher),
Towering Purrfection is a domino tile laying game featuring over 100 unique cat illustrations. The game is for 2-5 players, ages 8+, and takes 25 min to play. What makes it different is that there are no dimension restrictions when playing the tiles and players are challenged to make over 45 unique structures adding to the replay ability.
If that sounds interesting to you, here’s a link to the rulebook, sell sheet, pitch video, and a digital version. If you would like to see the game in more detail, I’d be happy to schedule a time to play the digital version with you.
Thanks for your time!
- Choosing a Publisher
As a designer, you will want to choose a publisher who will ensure your game makes it into the hands of your target customer. Flame Point Games, a small, designer-focused publisher, is currently taking board game pitches. If you have a game ready to be pitched to publishers, we would love to hear from you. Please send all pitch materials via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When searching for a publisher for your game, you will want to look for a publisher that has games with a similar theme, intended audience, or design. Board game publishers have an established following and seek out games they know their customers will enjoy and purchase. Board Game Geeks is a great resource to research other board games for similar mechanics and themes via the advanced search tool. Additionally, you could purchase access to Cardboard Edison’s publisher directory. They list publishers who are actively looking for submissions, what their submission process is, and even what types of games they are looking for. Well worth it.
Contacting publishers can be tiring and discouraging. Expect to get many “no’s” before you get your “yes”. This does not mean your game is “bad”; rather, it might not be the right time or fit for those publishers. Don’t give up- the right publisher for your game will come along and you will get that yes! I recommend tracking all publishers you contact via e-mail. Make sure to follow up several times, as publishers receive many e-mails. My rule of thumb is three e-mails a week for three weeks. If you don’t hear back after that, find more publishers to contact. Many people may think nine e-mails is too much, just remember it is only nine e-mails to those who don’t respond. Most of the time, publishers are respectful and respond back. It only takes one e-mail to launch your game!