The Gift of Independence
Post by: Grant Rodiek
In the past week or so I've written about why I design (the Release Valve) and things I love as an armchair publisher. I have just received a wonderful gift, which will hopefully change things for me.
I work for a very large electronic game company. Because it's a game company and a creative company, there are rules I need to follow regarding my own personal projects. I must get approval and I must be very careful to not infringe upon IP rights and things of that nature. Separation of work and home, as it were.
As a creative entrepreneurial guy, there's always the desire to do things on my own. What if I could do it better? Or, more simply, what if I could do it on my terms. A month or so ago I submitted a formal request to my company's HR, legal, and studio leadership asking to let me form an LLC to develop, publish, and sell board games. This morning, I received the approval email!
In the last year, people announcing that they are a publisher is not new. In fact, it's a really frequent occurrence. I'm throwing my hat in. My biggest inspirations are companies like Plaid Hat Games that have slowly but surely become a creator of great games.
I have a lot of work to do, but I thought I'd state a few things so you know what Hyperbole Games is, or I should say, will be.
Publishing will be a very busy hobby. I will still have a day job that will pay the bills and finance my ability to be a publisher. By doing this, I can move slowly, take the time to learn things, and not worry about losing my shirt if I fail. It would be fun to do this for a living, but that's not practical for me.
As a result, I can take my time. Which is good, because I have so much to learn.
I will focus on publishing small, highly accessible card games. As a player and developer I'm very fond of cards and it's key I do what I know. Cards are also relatively cheap to manufacture, have a lower price point, and as a component have many benefits in my opinion. My hope is to publish games that are clever, appealing to a wide audience, and aren't just another take-that (says the Farmageddon designer....). I'd be perfectly happy with reviews that described Hyperbole Games as "great fillers," "good gateway," or "light strategy."
For the foreseeable future, my goal is to self-finance things. As I noted, cards are relatively cheap to manufacture. I cannot finance a print run of Empire Reborn, but I could have self-financed Farmageddon. To be explicit, this means it is my plan and hope to not use Kickstarter.
Kickstarter solves two problems for new companies: funding for operations (primarily manufacturing) and marketing (to a degree). If I stick to products with simple components, I can self-finance. I've saved my money over the years and I've been fortunate to have a good job. As for marketing, well, I'll just have to solve that problem through other means.
I've backed many Kickstarter projects and I was an integral part of the Farmageddon project. From these two perspectives I've grown wary of the site. Kickstarter has a unique ecosystem, rules, and expectations. To thrive, you must work within this ecosystem, or fail. It is an awesome site and I am super glad to have it. I'll just solve my funding issues in a different way. Please please please do not read into this. If you have specific questions about this, email me. I'm not taking some stand or trying to make a splash.
If at some point I want to publish a bigger game, well, I may use Kickstarter. I'll never say never!
My goal is to be a publisher of other designs. It is likely that my first game will be one of my own design. This is to reduce risk and simplify the process. Furthermore, if I make a mistake with manufacturing or botch the distribution setup, I don't want a designer to be hung out to dry. I shouldn't risk the success of their creation until I'm ready for it. But, long term, I aim to primarily publish the works of others. I am not sure I'm going to create the next Ticket to Ride, but I'm perfectly happy publishing the man or woman who does.
Which game will be first? I don't know yet. It could be Poor Abby or Alchemy or something else entirely. It could be somebody else's design! I have no time frame. My only requirement is that I publish something excellent that will pay for itself and allow me to continue. Simple, right?
So, what's next? I need to form the LLC. I need to set aside finances for future projects. I need to continue learning about manufacturing (I've been taking notes for a year now) and begin building relationships for distribution. I'll need to update my website to allow direct sales and I'll need to figure out a warehousing/fulfillment solution. I'll need to design and test a game. I'll need to determine when and how to launch the product and build a marketing plan.
I also need to finish Livestocked and Loaded for 5th Street Games. I need to find a publisher for Empire Reborn. And I need to keep writing for my site.
I'm excited and thrilled that my employer gave me this gift. And I'm thankful to the design and publishing community for supporting me, answering my questions, and generally being excellent. Hopefully next year I can publish something that you all think is great.
Questions? Thoughts? Hate mail?