It's transparency time again for Smart Play Games! I think it's important to be open about how my business runs and how much it earns. When I began this experiment in high-intensity print-on-demand publishing, I had no real sense of what "success" looked like. But I knew it would depend on others jumping into this market as well. But with such an opaque business model, if anyone else wanted to start their own print-on-demand releases, I figured it would be best to show what goes on behind the curtain.
Get on with it!
All that said, here are the raw numbers for this quarter. Top 3 sellers each month are highlighted.
|Month||Product||Total Sold||Gross Sales||Earnings|
|1/1/2015||Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game||19||$199.47||$29.48|
|1/1/2015||Koi Pond: Four Walls (Promo Card 2)||6||$5.94||$3.82|
|1/1/2015||Koi Pond: Four Winds (Promo Card 1)||6||$5.94||$3.82|
|1/1/2015||Koi Pond: Moon Temple||12||$75.88||$22.43|
|1/1/2015||Light Rail: Downtown||2||$12.98||$3.39|
|1/1/2015||Nine Lives Card Game||3||$27.97||$8.88|
|1/1/2015||Penny Farthing Catapult||1||$9.99||$3.36|
|1/1/2015||Suspense: The Card Game||14||$59.26||$19.66|
|2/1/2015||Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game||11||$117.89||$18.02|
|2/1/2015||Koi Pond: Four Walls (Promo Card 2)||6||$5.94||$3.82|
|2/1/2015||Koi Pond: Four Winds (Promo Card 1)||6||$5.94||$3.82|
|2/1/2015||Koi Pond: Moon Temple||7||$44.93||$13.08|
|2/1/2015||Light Rail: Downtown||2||$11.98||$3.39|
|2/1/2015||Nine Lives Card Game||1||$9.99||$2.96|
|2/1/2015||Suspense: The Card Game||3||$12.97||$4.45|
|3/1/2015||Koi Pond: A Coy Card Game||23||$243.43||$36.04|
|3/1/2015||Koi Pond: Four Walls (Promo Card 2)||12||$11.88||$7.64|
|3/1/2015||Koi Pond: Four Winds (Promo Card 1)||12||$11.88||$7.64|
|3/1/2015||Koi Pond: Moon Temple||13||$81.87||$24.30|
|3/1/2015||Light Rail: Downtown||2||$13.98||$3.39|
|3/1/2015||Nine Lives Card Game||4||$39.96||$11.84|
|3/1/2015||Suspense: The Card Game||4||$16.96||$5.94|
A Slight Change to the Schedule
2014 was a wild year, full of expected pitfalls (low media attention, narrow distribution), fantastic benefits (fast release, limitless inventory), and happy surprises (international licenses). I was releasing new print-on-demand card games each month, along with sales reports that reviewed the previous 30ish days' performance. Those were popular, but took a fair bit of time out of my usual working day. Doing a job, then talking about the job sort of became two jobs. Kinda meta.
This year is a little different, with my focus on long-term projects like Heir to Europa, A La Kart, and Trickster. In fact, I didn't even release new product this quarter! Publicly, it feels like I've gone from warp speed to a screeching halt, but it's only because so much of the development is now local to my area or confined to playtest mailing lists.
So, I'm following the example of Evil Hat Productions and scaling back my sales reports to once a quarter, so you get a better long-tail view of how my little venture is doing.
Kigi Grows in Spring
Kigi quintupled the last two months' sales in just the last ten dasy. I don't know whether it was my posting the youtube tutorial, announcing the Japanese license, or Antoine Bauza publicly purchasing six copies, but wow that's impressive. I've already had five international publishers express interest in the game, which is just bonkers to me. Yowza!
Franchises Keeps Swimming
One of the big challenges facing POD is the high price of shipping. It compels thrifty shoppers to hold off on their purchases until they can make a big bundle order. Koi Pond is unique in my catalog for having two promo cards and a full-on supplement. Having readymade impulse add-ons may be helping keep Koi Pond afloat in the long-term. That's what is giving me more incentive to release game franchises like Trickster and A La Kart: Games that can be purchased as standalone units, or bundle-ordered for better deal on shipping. Then again, Light Rail's Downtown expansion hasn't really performed well, so I should approach this direction carefully.
Dabbling in Paid Advertising
I gave Twitter ads a shot in January, hoping to lift a slumping post-holiday sales period. Unfortunately they didn't perform all that well, even after some adjustments to focus on desktop browsers within the continental United States. I may revisit this in the future with video ads, but for now I'm sticking to "organic" marketing. In other words, tweeting a lot. :P
What's in the Lab?
The past few months have been focused primarily on playtesting A La Kart, editing Heir to Europa, and planning Trickster.
- A La Kart: With over 60 volunteers on the mailing list, and a cartel of excellent playtesters across the world, the March playtest session was fantastic. Each groups' feedback has been immensely valuable and I'm looking forward to taking A La Kart back into the garage for some retooling. Look for this release in a few months.
- Heir to Europa: We just posted the rules PDF for Heir to Europa here for your perusal, which is the last step before we go into proper production. Again, feedback here has been great with surprisingly few typos or ambiguities to address. Condensing an eight page rulebook into eight cards was a challenge, but definitely successful. Look for this release in a matter of weeks.
- Trickster: This game has developed shockingly fast from a paper-thin mechanism to a full-blown light strategy card game for fans of Pairs and Love Letter. It plays as well with 3 players as it does for 7. Lots of plans for decks coming up! I'm very excited about this line's potential. The first release may leapfrog A La Kart by a few months.