As you may know, this past weekend was BGG.CON, one of the fastest-growing gaming conventions in the country. While the convention is officially dedicated to the playing of games rather than selling them, it’s still a great opportunity for publishers to make their latest designs available to demo with one of the best gaming audiences in the world. This was our story:
Justin flew into Texas late Tuesday evening, with just enough time to meet other early arrivers around 10pm. He met up with Dave Howell (the creator of Penny Gems) in the Hobby conference room and picked up our custom Imperial Harvest pennygem stickers. Mark, our CFO, arrived around midnight.
Wednesday and Thursday
Justin and Mark arrived at the convention around 8am and spent their first two hours handing out around 500 promo baggies (with candy and an exclusive character for Imperial Harvest). After a quick stop at the hotel room to reload on promos, they sprinted back downstairs for open gaming (all work and no play, right?).
For a full list of other games Justin and Mark got to play, check out Justin’s Geeklist and his own post-con report.
Over the course of the day, they ran a 3-player demo of Imperial Harvest, checked out the other vendors, and spread the word - and promos - for Broomstick Monkey. Tuesday evening included a 4-player game of Imperial Harvest and then one of the games from our 4-in-one card game deck, 8 Kingdoms. Some obligatory Werewolf happened, along with more promo packing for the next day.
Thursday involved more gameplay, plus a prep session of Northstar's new game Evolution (their first foray into the hardcore gaming realm; we had also promised to help teach the game on Saturday afternoon, so we decided we should learn it more thoroughly).
Friday is where Imperial Harvest really kicked into high gear. In the morning, Mark and Justin went straight to their demo table in the Maverick Foyer. This was to be the first day doing "officially sanctioned" demos for Imperial Harvest. We had the spot reserved from 10am—2pm, but the area did not get much foot traffic (everyone tended to stop at the library and not come farther down the hall). Some of the other game designers showcasing their games even farther down the hall offered to play our game. That went well, and we reciprocated by playing some of their games, but we still only had a handful of regular convention goers stop by our table.
But you've got to start somewhere, and those that did hear our pitch and/or play our game all said they really enjoyed it. We even had a fellow from the Dice Tower news network (Justin believes he was with Today in Boardgames) stop by and check out the game. He seemed to really like it and said he would help us out when it came time to market ourselves more broadly.
We started to close up shop around 2:15, and Val Texeiras (who Justin had met in the BGG online forums) stopped by and asked to play our game. Mark and Justin were starving, but of course would never say no to a prospective fan, so they played a good 2-player game that wrapped up just before 3:00.
That evening was the big BGG.CON Poker Tournament, so Mark and Justin turned their attention that particular tabletop game (apparently it involves bidding and bluffing mechanics somehow), along with a couple others.
Saturday morning, Mark went to play Imperial Harvest in the demo area and Justin looked for folks to play the game in the open gaming area (doubling down on our demo efforts). For some reason, we got a lot more people at our table that day, so Mark got to pitch to a few dozen new folks and sat down to play with about half that number. Justin played with one fellow in the open gaming area, then went back to help Mark with the new influx of players.
One thing of note: Several people came over because of the advertisement in our promo goodie bag -- always invest in marketing if you can! A game publisher from a wargaming magazine said he was looking for a game just like Imperial Harvest. Justin thinks he would have asked to publish it had we not explicitly stated our intent to publish the game ourselves, but it was still nice to hear of his interest!
Around noon, Dave Howell stopped by our table to see his Penny Gems in action. He seemed pretty excited to see his wares used so overtly in a game (not just as an accessory). Justin and Mark got lunch with Dave before Mark headed out. Justin got still more gaming in on Saturday evening, including the new convention hotness Two Rooms and a Boom.
Justin left early Sunday morning to make his flight home, tired and a little hoarse, but having had a blast.
All in all, BGG.CON is an interesting experience for a new publisher. You definitely need to make an effort to get your name out and get convention-goers attention. The promos were a big help, and it helps if you can grab an attendee before they hit the unparalleled BGG.CON library. But all told, it was great to meet the BGG users, spread the word about Imperial Harvest, and get a ton of gaming in!
Want to see what you missed? Download a Print and Play copy of Imperial Harvest. The official Kickstarter for Imperial Harvest launches February 17, 2015.