Self-publishing games – pros and cons

posted in: games, mini apocalypse, publishing | 2

In the book industry, it’s very easy to self-publish. With a Word or Google document, you can sell on Amazon in 48 hours as a Kindle Direct book! o_O

Doing a paperback book is pretty straightforward too.

Amazon’s CreateSpace is easy and inexpensive (under $50 including an ISBN number). With a bit more effort, you can become a “real” book publisher and use Lightning Source presses to print your book. This press prints many mainstream publishers like Penguin. They print around 16 million books per month.

What about games?

There’s a negative stigma with self-publishing but we see that falling away in industries like music.

The “gatekeepers” – music producers, book publishers, and even game publishers – don’t like self-publishing. It cuts into their pockets.

Did you know that the typical game designer gets 5 to 10% the MSRP? And some only 3%!

In book publishing, authors get around 10%. Doesn’t matter if you’re J.K. Rowling or me.

Back to the stigma. One reason it’s negative is that, without gatekeepers, a lot of crap gets published (books, music, and games – movies too). But that also means some good stuff never gets published. There are many stories of things that were thought not worthy to publish which later proved to be successful (Harry Potter, for example).

Apart from wading through loads of crappy published stuff, it’s also hard for people to discover self-published things.

I love going to my friendly local game store, Diversions PG, and looking at their selection of games. But even though they make me feel like a rock star and Mint Tin Pirates and Mint Tin Aliens was developed in the Meetups they host, they’ll never carry those games. =(

They don’t have the capability to deal with me or the three others from our Meetups that have self-published games. It’s easier to deal with a few game distributors (ordering, invoicing, returns) rather than a zillion self-publishers around the world.

Apart (again) from crappy stuff and difficulty in finding decent self-published games, there’s another reason the self-publishing stigma is negative. There’s a lot of crappy stuff made with crappy components!

This last point is one that I love about self-publishing. I control, to an extent, the quality of the components we use. The selection of components, cards, etc, is more limited than I like, but at least there are choices.

I’m proud to only use Chessex dice for example. We could have gone with cheaper dice and saved a few cents per game but that would affect the number of games we donate. Chessex came through with a discount that let us double those donations! A cheaper vendor would not have stepped up like that. *yay Chessex!*

Here’s a last example (woof, clearly a soap box issue for me!) – the instructions for Mint Tin Mini Apocalypse.

Making this game in a small mint tin is a driving factor in its design. But that’s not an excuse to use crappy stuff.

So far it has ten mini meeples, one standard meeple, five 12 mm dice, and two cubes. There isn’t room for much more but it does need instructions. Game play is simple and we could say “go to blahblah.com to see the rules” but that doesn’t seem right for a tabletop game, regardless of its size.

Since everything is used in the game, including the tin itself, all its contents will get dumped out every time it’s played.

The instructions will be constantly removed and repacked. Handling like this, especially in a restaurant setting since this is how the Mint Tin Games came about, means a good chance that they’ll get wet and maybe even greasy (not to say game peeps eat greasy food!). *yum, a burrito today sounds excellent for lunch* =p

That means something other than normal glossy paper. Lo and behold, synthetic paper! A little research and here’s one that feels and folds like normal paper but stands up well – Ruff N Tuff Non-Tear paper!

It’s ten times more expensive than glossy paper and hard to find a printer that will work with it AND cut/fold it to the size we need. So in true subQuark spirit, we’ll just print it ourselves and do the cutting and folding. Won’t be as fancy as a real publisher since I only have a black ink LaserJet, but it should last many, many plays.

This choice on something as mundane as instructions is only possible with self-publishing. And it’s the apocalypse after all, so ya just need good paper! =D

Happy New Year everybody! =)

2014-12-31 13.47